Following the recent collaborative effort between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Metropolitan Police, London, it was revealed on Monday that certain serving governors, ex-governors, ministers, ex-ministers, and a Head of Service of the Federation are undergoing investigation over several allegations bordering on looting of the public treasury and money laundering.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja, EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, said though the commission would not reveal the names of persons under investigation, the agencies were reviewing the cases before the identities of those involved would be made public.
Lamorde made the revelation during the visit of the London Metropolitan Police's Special Crime and Operations Unit led by Detective Chief Inspector Jonathan Benton.
According to Lamorde, the working relationship between the EFCC and the Metropolitan Police had yielded positive results, with several Nigerian public office holders now under investigation for corruption.
“It is in respect of the new cases that we have embarked on investigations involving some of the sitting governors, governors who have left office, some ministers that are serving and also ministers that have left office, a Head of Service of the Federation and some members of the National Assembly.
“We don’t want to mention names since it could hamper the investigation that we are doing and you know unlike what we do here. What most of our people want is sensationalism and that is not the way things work.
“The investigations have to be conducted properly first, it is when the matter is ready to go to court that publicity is given to individual cases,” Lamorde said.
He said in less than six months, some governors would lose their immunity, which would empower the EFCC to descend on those under investigation.
“For the time being, we are reviewing those investigations and when we are ready to go to court, then names and these cases will be properly mentioned so that you people will know the cases that we are dealing with,” he stressed.
The EFCC boss added that the commission in conjunction with the Met Police had undertaken several investigations, adding: “But we need to review those cases and see how we will move forward with them.
“You are also very much aware that there is the Metropolitan Police unit that focuses on proceeds of corruption. This unit assisted us in the past in the case of DSP Alamieyeseigha, Joshua Dariye, and of course the big one everyone is aware of, James Ibori, who is currently serving his jail term in the United Kingdom.
“In a few months, there is also going to be confiscation in respect to the assets of James Ibori in the UK, which of course we have been working assiduously to ensure that when the proceeds come up, it will be successful.
“Another thing that I will like to say here is that some of these investigations will take a little bit of time. All of you who are familiar with the Ibori case, for instance, the investigation lasted about six to seven years before he was arraigned and charged to court.
“So we cannot be in a hurry, we cannot push investigations, but the most important thing is that people should know that a lot is going on.
“And any person, be it a man or woman, who is occupying public office and has decided to put his or her hand in government coffers to steal, there will be no hiding place whether you take these monies outside the shores of the country or not.
“There are machines and mechanisms in place to trace these monies and also bring such individuals to justice.”
Lamorde said Nigeria remained committed to working with the UK in the fight against corruption, stressing that both countries have had a very robust working relationship through the Metropolitan Police dating over 10 years.
Speaking on Benton, he said he came with his team from the Met to review EFCC’s activities over the years and future cases that the commission is working on.
In his remarks, Benton said to stem corruption and money laundering in Nigeria, both parties must remember that Nigeria and the UK could only do this together and not in isolation.
“The international financial centre in London does play a part in the way money works, the way money is flown and the way money is moved, where people like to buy houses, where they spend their holidays and some choice schools.
“So it is important that we play our part in fighting corruption. That is why we are very privileged to have this long-standing relationship with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“We have worked together for years and my officers have travelled frequently back and forth with them (EFCC investigators). The police in EFCC are always supportive, helpful and always ask what to do next and how we should go about it together,” he explained.