It was plaudits all the way for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Abuja as the yearly workshop on financial and economic crimes investigation and prosecution for judicial officers got underway at the National Judicial Institute, Jabi.
Ahmad Lawan, President of the Senate, who declared the workshop opened, commended the EFCC for its consistency in carrying out its mandate. According to him, all the government and National Assembly can do in the light of the glistering performance of the EFCC was to support it in order for the Commission to discharge its mandate more effectively. “The 9th Senate and indeed the National Assembly as presently constituted are to support the anti- corruption agencies to the best of its abilities to enable us get rid of the menace of corruption. It is a fight that should be fought by all,” Lawan said.
The Senate President commended the wisdom behind the workshop which he described as a unique example of collaboration among the three arms of government in solving a collective national challenge, which should be replicated in all sectors. He emphasized the need for the EFCC and the judiciary to stand firm in the fight against corruption and tasked judges and justices to be above board as demanded by their profession.
Also speaking in similar vein, Justice Suleiman Galadima, chairman of the Committee on Tracking of Corruption Cases, commended the assets recovery and conviction records of the EFCC under the leadership of Ibrahim Magu. According to him, his committee was pleasantly surprised that the EFCC recorded over 830 convictions between January and September 2019.
In his remarks, Magu attributed the success recorded by the Commission in the areas of convictions to the robust engagement and collaboration between the EFCC and NJI in the last three years, adding that the workshop has proved to be a positive tool in winning the anti -corruption war.
“For us in the EFCC, this workshop is more than an annual ritual, we have taken time to consciously benchmark its impact on our prosecution fortunes and I must confess that the result has been encouraging,” Magu stated.
While noting that the Commission secured 190 convictions in 2017 and 312 in 2018, he disclosed that “the sword of Lady of Justice has been so busy this year, from January to October, over 882 convictions have been recorded.”
He regretted that institutional responses to corruption are in some instances weak, and urged judges not to rest on their oars as there is so much work to be done with corruption still rampant.
He sued for a common ground on the matter of remand warrants during investigation and the integrity of plea bargain administration and further expressed hope that a legal policy framework for financial crimes would emerge from the workshop.
The Chief Justice of the Nigerian, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, while delivering his key note address said the workshop provides a forum to identify and proffer solutions to the challenges encountered by the judiciary and the EFCC, towards the realisation of constitutionally assigned roles of the judiciary and the mandate of EFCC.
Muhammad encouraged judges to broaden their knowledge and perspectives on economic and financial crimes, stressing that “fraudsters take advantage of the complexities of financial institutions’ operations to defraud unsuspecting victims and that such offences may not be readily comprehensible to the judges”.
This year’s workshop with the theme, Contemporary Issues in t he Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Financial Crimes- The way Forward, is the third in the series and has speakers drawn from the bar, the bench and the academia.