Olubunmi Osoteku, Ibadan
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has reinforced its resolution and commitment to fight crime in Nigeria, which is its constitutional mandate.
The Ibadan Zonal Head of the anti-graft agency, Mr Friday Ebelo, who declared this during a Press Conference at the Commission’s Iyaganku, Ibadan Zonal Office, stated that the decision stemmed from the shock and embarrassment that greeted the news of 80 Nigerians who were indicted in massive cybercrime cases by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, of the United States of America, USA.
Noting that Nigerians are hardworking and intelligent people, who have achieved many groundbreaking feats within and outside the country, Ebelo argued that the Commission would not allow the illicit activities of the few bad eggs dent the good image of the country in the international community.
Hardworking and law-abiding
“As a responsible organisation, the EFCC will do everything within its constitutional powers to ensure that the interest of hardworking and law-abiding Nigerians are adequately protected, and that they are not denied the fruit of their labour by the recalcitrant few,” Ebelo said.
He advised the 80 Nigerians indicted in the cybercrime cases to come out of their hiding and clear their names before EFCC operatives get to them and arrest, particularly, those of them within the shores of the country, explaining that the operatives have begun a background check on the suspects.
According to Ebelo, the Zonal Office of the Commission has since the beginning of the year arrested a total of 263 suspects for cybercrime-related offences out of which 111 had been convicted and sentenced to various jail terms.
The Zonal Head explained that the agency recovered huge sums of money in addition to getting the approval of the courts to hand over valuable items confirmed as benefits of internet-related crimes to the Federal Government.
“The zone has also recovered a huge sum of money in local and foreign currencies. We equally got the nod of the court to forfeit valuable items established to have been benefits of internet-related crimes. These include landed properties, vehicles, laptops, phones and many others,” he said.
Curb internet crimes
Ebelo put the recovered monies at N7,461,378, US$56,452; 400 Canadian Dollars, 65 Pounds and 2,400 Euros, noting that the EFCC is in constant collaboration with international organisations with a similar mandate, especially the FBI, in the effort to curb internet crimes and illicit funds transfer.
He stated that the arrest of one internet fraud kingpin, Ajayi Gbenga Festus, in Ekiti State, who was alleged to be working with other cyber criminals abroad, in what he described as a highly sophisticated web of a conspiracy, designed to illegally access accounts of individuals and organisations to defraud them of their money.
The Zonal Head said illicit transactions made by Festus through his Nigerian bank accounts amounting to N223million has been established, noting that the suspects serve as a conduit pipe through which proceeds of crime reach members of the syndicate.
While promising that the EFCC would do everything within its constitutional powers to ensure that the interests of hardworking and law-abiding Nigerians are adequately protected, Ebelo attributed the success achieved so far by the Zone to the exemplary leadership of the Acting Chairman of the Commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu.
“We will also continue to work assiduously to ensure that those who engage in acts capable of tarnishing the good image of our country do not escape the cold hands of the law. To achieve this, the Commission is in constant collaboration with international organisations with a similar mandate as ours, especially the FBI, in efforts to curb internet crimes and illicit funds transfer,” he said.
The Zonal Director affirmed that the Commission’s longstanding collaborative engagement with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies remain intact and yielding mutual benefits.