The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, has described the establishment of the Commission in 2003 by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as one of the major steps towards the rebirth of the nation.
Mr. Lamorde said prior to the establishment of the EFCC, Nigeria’s image in the international community had been dented owing to economic and financial crimes perpetrated by some individuals and organizations.
He further said Nigeria was synonymous with money laundering, weak law enforcement and ‘419’ before the creation of EFCC, adding that the citizens were harassed at international ports of entry.
Mr. Lamorde, who spoke Thursday through the Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Osita Nwajah, at the Induction Certificate Course of newly elected legislators, organized by the National Institute for Legislative Studies, also noted that before the establishment of the EFCC, Nigeria was blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force, FATF, isolated and dishonoured from international businesses.
He, however, stated that the war against corruption and other economic crimes by the EFCC contributed to the de-listing of Nigeria from the FATF blacklist of Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories (NCCTs).
Mr. Lamorde further highlighted the successes so far recorded by the Commission to include “Robust enforcement of economic and financial crimes, anti-money laundering law, routing of notorious ‘419’ and engendering renewed inflow of Foreign Direct Investments”.
While stating that the EFCC’s mandate is not limited or influenced by tribe, creed, status or affiliations, he said the Commission had been actualising its mandate of nation-building through a number of activities, including enforcement, receipt of complaints, investigation, prevention, enlightenment and advocacy training.
He added that as an anti-graft agency, the EFCC has also ensured restitution for victims of economic and financial crimes, locally and internationally.
While answering questions on the issue of plea bargaining, Mr. Lamorde, who lamented lack of insurance for staff of the Commission in spite of the dangers associated with the job, described it purely as a matter of judicial function.
According to him, most suspects often resort to plea bargaining when confronted with volume of evidences against them.
“Most suspects don’t want to go the whole hog. They change their pleas of not guilty to being guilty. It is done all over the world. Therefore, if a suspect does not waste the time of the court or waste tax payers’ money, it makes it possible for him or her to resort to plea bargaining”.
Mr. Lamorde added that contrary to the impression in some quarters, the EFCC does not have the power to dispose of properties recovered from suspects until final forfeiture is granted by the court.
The induction course was organized by the NILS to train and equip new legislators with the necessary knowledge and skills to be effective in the discharge of their responsibilities as law makers.