EFCC Suspects, Too Powerful, Lamorde Laments

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Chairman of the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Lamorde, lamented on
Thursday that most of the people involved in cases his commission is
prosecuting in court have enormous resources to drag the matter indefinitely.
Larmode
told the Senate Committee on Narcotics, Drugs and Financial Crimes headed by
Victor Lar when he appeared before it that the EFCC has only succeeded in
forcing many such suspects to trial by setting up an asset forfeiting unit that
confiscates assets of individuals that the commission is investigating.

He
said the commission adopts this method “because it is only when you deprive
them of their resources that you will be able to force them to stand trial.”

Larmode
said it is not correct to say that the charges against the suspects were not
properly framed, but admitted that none of the high profile cases had been
concluded.
“The
truth is no case has been concluded. I don’t think it is correct to say that
the charges were not properly framed or that the prosecution is not putting the
case properly.
“Of
course the fact on ground is that no case has been concluded. In fact it will
be difficult for us to say you have concluded the case, the man is discharged
and acquitted but the man is discharged or whatever it is, but what we have is
that the trial is ongoing.
“We
have example of a case we charged to court in 2006; for this very case, we have
gone to the Supreme Court twice on just interlocutory applications.
“They
will file this, the judge will overrule them, they will go to Court of Appeal
and lose there but they will still go to the Supreme Court.
“At
Supreme Court when they lose, they will be asked to go to the trial judge for
the case to continue.
“They
will come with another application and certainly for lawyers among us we know
how long it takes for a trial to go to Court of Appeal and get listed, then go
to the Supreme Court, get it listed and decided upon.
“This
is the fate of most of the cases we have in court,” Lamorde explained.
He
said this year alone the commission had recorded over 200 convictions in
various courts across the country but they are mostly advance fee fraud.
“We
have the ‘yahoo yahoo’, we have the commercial cases, we have the executives of
financial institutions that are involved in currency trafficking.
“The
cases that most people are interested in their conclusion are those before the
Supreme Court.
“Unfortunately,
these are people who have the resources to drag these cases indefinitely and
perpetually. That is why we have established a very strong assets forfeiture
unit.
“The
first thing we do now is that we try to recover and confiscate the assets of
individuals that we are investigating because it is only when you deprive them
of their resources that you will be able to force them to stand trial.
“Once
they have access to their resources and assets they will use it to continue to
delay and drag some of these trials,” the EFCC boss added.
Source:
Daily Independent

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