The Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has urged treasury looters to embrace the concept of voluntarily returning funds stolen from the government’s coffers.
While bemoaning the level of impunity that was prevalent in the system before the present administration, Magu said many corrupt people, especially politically-exposed persons, will be flushed out this year.
“From all indications, the judges are more serious, everybody is cooperating and this year, we will see more politically-exposed persons convicted. We will flush out corrupt people. With the fear of God, in the national interest, and strictly observing the rule of law.”
During a visit to The Nation’s headquarters in Lagos on Wednesday, Magu said: “We need more support; it is about Nigeria, not an individual, the fight is for everybody, from the media we have to go to the grassroots, we will take it to children in the schools; we have to tell the children that corruption is bad, tell them why there is no chair in the classroom. We will sensitise everybody to the evil of corruption. We need to let people know that corruption is bad because some people don’t seem to know.”
“The impunity is too much. Sometimes I shed tears in the morning before I go to the office. It is just unbelievable; the rot is terrible. What I am saying is that people who know they have stolen our commonwealth should bring it back.”
“People arrogate things to themselves. They have taken our money and are bold enough to say they are not going to return it. The money belongs to the people; they should return the money quietly; let there be voluntary compliance. Let them voluntarily come out to say ‘this is what I have stolen’ and the government will take it. I think that is the best thing to do.”
Speaking on the handcuffing of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson Olisa Metuh when he appeared in court, Magu said: “It is not coming from us(Nigerian Prisons Service —NPS— brought Metuh to court), but there is nothing wrong with that actually. They have a right to use their discretion; you are not there, there must be reason. There are instances when you handcuff a suspect, but let them explain themselves.”
Magu also harped on the low rate of conviction of corruption cases. “It is not the job of the EFCC to convict people. The EFCC hands of after taking them to court with evidence and witnesses. But, they know how to drag this thing. After six, seven or 10 years’ witnesses die, you can no longer call for evidence and Nigerians are saying EFCC has not convicted this or that. So, we need to refocus and make new laws that will channel our activities properly.”