The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives Wednesday began a massive search for more assets of suspects in the N31 billion arms funds probe.
Already, the agency has sent a special team to Kaduna, Zaria and Sokoto to ascertain the assets of a former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki, and eight other suspects.
The other accused persons include a former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda; the ex-Director of Finance in the Office of the National Security Adviser(ONSA), Shuaibu Salisu; former Sokoto State Governor Attahiru Bafarawa; a former Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Aminu Babakusa and Sagir Attahiru.
Dalhatu Investment Limited; ACACIA Holdings Limited; and Reliance Referral Hospital Limited are also accused of partaking in the massive misapplication of funds.
The anti-graft agency has also established links with its counterparts in Britain, United States and United Arab Emirates to track the assets of some of the accused persons.
An EFCC source confirmed that it had uncovered more cases of looted funds, but the commission might not be opposed to a plea bargain if the suspects will refund all looted funds for public use.
The EFCC is believed to have raised a special committee which has identified some choice assets of the accused persons.
The committee is said to be operating in a “restricted” manner because of the “vital” information at its disposal.
“After identifying the assets, a team has been sent to Kaduna, Sokoto and Zaria to assess the worth of the properties and put machinery in place to attach them.
“We have also established links with anti-graft agencies in the UK, USA, UAE and some islands where a few accused persons acquired assets.
Sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 empower the anti-graft agency to invoke Interim Assets Forfeiture Clause.
Section 28 of the EFCC Act reads: ‘Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to be obtained an interim attachment order from the Court.”
Section 13 of the Federal High Court Act reads in part : “The Court may grant an injunction or appoint a receiver by an interlocutory order in all cases in which it appears to the Court to be just or convenient so to do.
“Any such order may be made either unconditionally or on such terms and conditions as the Court thinks just.”
The source added that “All the findings so far are like a tip of the iceberg. We have stumbled on fresh documents on looted funds. But we are investigating all these before inviting those connected for interaction.”
Asked if the suspects would be left to go free after agreeing to forfeit their assets in a plea bargain, the source said: “Why not? The EFCC may accept plea bargain from those already on trial as long as they are ready to return all the looted funds.
“The money we will get from them is sufficient to cushion the 2016 budget. The fraud is monumental. Nigeria needs money for development and if these accused persons offer to return their loot, it is in the interest of the nation to accept it.”
“But we have not recovered money from any of the accused persons”, he added, pleading not to be named because of the “sensitivity” of the investigations.