Anti-Corruption Agencies:EFCC, HALCIA Sign MoU in Niamey
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the High Authority Against Corruption and Relating Crimes, HALCIA, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU geared towards strengthening collaboration between Nigeria and the Republic of Niger.
HALCIA, a counterpart of the EFCC, is the Nigerien agency, established by the country’s Law No 2016-44 of December 6, 2016 and tasked with the prevention and fight against corruption and related offences in the country.
The MoU, which was signed in Niamey, capital of the Republic of Niger, followed a two-day working visit (February 6 and 7, 2019) by the acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu.
Apart from the MoU, the visit became necessary in the light of the growing need to strengthen inter-agency ties and collaborations in the African sub-region and in the continent as a whole in the fight against corruption and terrorism financing.
During the visit, the EFCC boss met some key players and instutitions in the country’s anti-corruption fight. They include, Abdourmane Gousmane, President of HALCIA; Mme Aliyu Halima Mamane, Deputee, Republic Du Niger Assemblee Nationale and Chairman, Anti-corruption Committee; Liman Ali Mohamadou, 2nd Vice President, Republic Du Niger Assemblee Nationale.
Magu explained that though there existed a protocol between the two neighbouring countries in the fight against corruption and terrorism financing, there was the need to further strengthen the ties.
It was against this background that an MoU was signed by the EFCC and HALCIA to help eliminate any obstacles and impediment in the exchange of information and intelligence gathering.
Section seven of the MoU captures how the parties will exchange information, including those which are necessary to achieve the objectives of the MoU.
The section reads in part: “The parties will exchange information in accordance with this Memorandum of Understanding in conformity to the relevant laws of Niger and Nigeria relating to the protection of privacy and confidentiality.”
At the signing ceremony, Magu noted that in the course of EFCC’s fight against corruption, it discovered that “corrupt public officials loot Nigerian treasury and stash their illicit gains abroad, thereby denying Nigerians of viable resources that could develop the nation.” He stated that the preferred destinations for looters have traditionally been the United Kingdom, United States, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Seychelles, but now fast expanding down home to African countries.
He said: “From available intelligence and our investigations, it has been revealed that looters from Nigeria now go to Ghana, Egypt, Cameroun, South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Niger, Morocco, Seychelles and so on, to stash their loots. This has led to sharp increase in the number of Nigerians buying properties in African countries.”
Magu further noted that corrupt Nigerians “even go to the extent of changing their names and acquiring the destination countries’ international passports in collusion with corrupt public officers in their countries of residence in order to hide their identities and evade detection.”
He reiterated that “the fight of the EFCC against looters’ safe havens is total.”
The EFCC boss further disclosed that his visit to Niger was part of his continuing tour at galvanizing international efforts against looters’ safe havens.
He said: “We have already visited Ghana and Cameroun, today we are in Niger Republic and we will continue to reach out to other preferred looters destinations in Africa and beyond. Interestingly, the efforts of the Nigerian Government to trace, recover and return assets stolen from Nigeria coupled with our increased advocacy to discourage safe havens have began to yield results.”
He emphasized that international-agency and governmental cooperations are critical in the global effort to eliminate looters safe havens.
He said: “It is my conviction that our collaborative efforts will go a long way in eliminating safe havens. In fact, this is in tandem with renewed global commitment by countries to shut their doors to stolen funds.
“I also want to call for conscious measures to sanitize and strengthen the legal framework so as to make it difficult for looters to transfer illicit funds to Niger Republic for investment or whatever purpose.”
He called on the global community to urgently redouble its efforts towards strengthening the mechanisms for dismantling safe havens for procceds of corruption and ensuring the return of stolen funds and assets to their countries of origin. He urged his Nigerien counterpart to “tighten the noose on corrupt Nigerians” in the country and make Niger unhabitable for looters from Nigeria.
Magu further made a five-point appeal to the president of Niger.
He appealed for your assistance in identifying huge cash in the financial system owned by Nigerians to “enable us find out if they are looted funds/proceeds of crime”, identifying the numerous properties owned by Nigerians including the details of the owners in order to enable the Commission ascertain if such Nigerians acquired the properties from looted funds/proceeds of crime; stopping moves by persons who plan to move funds “at this period” through the usual medium to destabilise the political stage in Nigeria; increasing clampdown on Nigerians who are involved in cybercrime and “handing over their details to us for further necessary action”; and assisting the EFCC in the arrest of persons on the wanted list of the Commission who absconded to Niger due to the free movement granted to citizens of the ECOWAS states.
The EFCC boss praised President Muhammadu Buhari for the support from his government to the Commission, noting that “Nigeria is ready and willing to partner with international agencies and individual countries on bilaterial basis to confront crimes and corruption.”
While meeting with the parliamentarians at the Assemblee Nationale, Magu told the 2nd Vice President, Mohamadou that there was the need to rework existing legislations in Niger to help strengthen anti-corruption fight in the country.
He also stressed the need for Niger to domesticate the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, UNCAC so as to bring its meaning and impact down to the lives of the country’s citizens.
While decorating the Nigerian Ambassador to Niger, Ambassador Haliru and all the embassy staff with the EFCC lapel, Magu urged them to note that the anti-corruption fight was a collective one.
He said: “Whether you are at home in Nigeria or in the Diaspora, you need to make your contribution. Add your voice to the crusade against corruption. The fight is real. Don’t also forget that corruption is fighting back, but together, we shall win.”
Ambassador Haliru, who received Magu in the country praised the EFCC boss for his zeal and passion for the job.
“We are hearing and seeing all your achievements in the fight against corruption. We are praying to God Almighty to give you good health and long life to confront the corrupt,” he said.
For the President of HALCIA, Gousmane, there was no better time than now for stronger collaboration between Nigeria and Niger in the fight against corruption.
“We are ready and willing to partner with Nigeria. Nigeria has the experience and the human capacity and with President Muhammadu Buhari who is a reknowned anti-corruption icon, we have no choice than to leverage on Nigeria for capacity building in taming the corruption monster,” Gousmane said.
One of the side attractions of the visit was Gousmane’s presentation of a horse as a special gift to Magu.
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity
Magu Decries Illicit Financial Flows, Vote Buying During Elections
The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, has condemned the increasing wave of illicit financial flows and vote buying during elections in the country.
He spoke in Lagos during a round table meeting with managing directors of financial institutions in Nigeria with the theme: “Roles and Obligations of Managing Directors of Banks in Nigeria in Curbing Vote Buying During an Election, Illicit Financial Flows and Other Related Matters in Nigeria”.
The EFCC Chair, in his address, recalled that the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, during a meeting with Bankers’ Committee sometime in September 2018, made a commitment to work with the EFCC and the banks to curb this menace.
He said illicit financial flows would reduce the amount of resources available to the government to provide critical social services to the citizenry.
According to the anti-graft czar, vote buying during elections would prevent credible candidates from running for political offices, adding that “in Nigeria, vote buying has reached an alarming proportion to the extent that politicians have now spread their tentacles to election officials, security agencies, election observers and even the media”.
Magu, however, lamented that the illicit financial flows out of the country was on the increase and that politicians were still “perpetrating and trying to finalise their acts of vote buying.”
“It is also worthy of note that illicit financial flows during election are a common denominator and can be tied to vote buying. Politicians either bring in money to further their cause or try to export money to their cohorts outside the country to get them to influence the elections in one way or the other”, he added.
“It is worrisome to note that in 2018, statistics available to the EFCC shows that out of about 28 commercial banks in Nigeria, 10 banks evacuated out of Nigeria through Travelex Nigeria Limited the sums of GBP- 50,832,560; USD-8,057,756; EURO-39,986,560 and RAND-7,500,000. The reasons for these evacuations are still sketchy. We must note that the impact of illicit financials flows from the country undermine the stability and integrity of the financial institutions.”
The EFCC boss also expressed concern that the culture of large cash transactions was still being allowed in some banks, adding that there was no commensurate reporting of those transactions to the relevant agencies.
According to him, the banks still operate accounts without BVNs, and have remained complacent in reporting those accounts to the relevant authorities, or freeze the accounts in accordance with the CBN policy.
“The banks are rather complacent in dealing with Crypto-currency or bitcoins as the case may be and have not taken measure to monitor such transactions or put adequate surveillance on such accounts. The banks are observed to still hold customers accounts in their suspense accounts, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to trace and have access to those funds”, he observed.
According to him, intelligence reports have shown that banks are aiding their customers to receive foreign financial inflows to their accounts in neighbouring countries, where they have branches like Ghana, Republic of Niger and other West African countries.
“The money is then couriered into Nigeria through the land borders to circumvent declaration and reporting”, he stated.
He added that banks had the habit of under-reporting transactions in some cases while carrying out defensive filing of transactions after they had been consummated.
Describing them as “gatekeepers”, Magu said no country could control illicit financial flows without the cooperation of financial institutions.
He, therefore, charged the managing directors to join hands with the Commission to save the country from being hijacked by criminals.
Ag. Head, Media & Publicity