Business - Business & Economy - News - June 18, 2021

Orji Kalu’s trial to start afresh, says EFCC Chairman, Bawa; amid 2nd quarter score card

Says anti-graft agency recovered about N6b, 30 estates, 32 automobiles between March and June this year

MEDIATRACNET
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday said the trial of the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, for alleged corruption is to start afresh soon.
Kalu who is the current Senate Minority Whip, was jailed for 12 years on December 5, 2019, after being convicted over a 39 count charge of committing a N7.1 billion fraud alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Ltd., and a former Abia State Director of Finance and Accounts during his tenure, Udeh Udeogu.
However, Udeh had appealed the conviction before the Supreme Court on the premise that the presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, was wrong to have continued with the case after his elevation to a higher bench.
The Supreme Court agreed with him and ruled in favour of the appeal, thereby setting him and Kalu free on May 12, after declaring their trial a nullity.
The Supreme Court however ordered a retrial.
On Thursday, while rendering account of his stewardship, the new Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, said the EFCC would soon reinstate the case and commence the trial of the lawmaker and his accomplice afresh.
Bawa said between March and June this year, EFCC recorded significant achievements.
Bawa, who clocked one year in office since his appointment, said within the last three months, the Commission recovered over N6 billion from various individuals and organizations, apart from 30 real estates and 32 automobiles that have been confiscated to the government.
The EFCC Chairman disclosed this in Abuja during the weekly media briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team.
“From the time I took over office as Chairman of EFCC, we have recovered over N6 billion, over $161 million, over £13,000, €1,730,200 Canadian dollars, CFA 373,000, ¥8,430.
“We have recovered 30 real estates, one carpet, 13 electronics, one farm land, one factory, two motorcycles, one filling station and about 32 automobiles,” he said.
However, Bawa clarified that not all recoveries made by the Commission would go into the coffers of the Federal Government.
“There are a number of recoveries that the EFCC has made over the years. But not all recoveries made belong to the Federal Government.
“We have made recoveries for victims of criminals, and they can be individuals, local governments, state governments, federal government, corporate entities, whether in Nigeria or outside.
“There are also recoveries that are indirect recoveries. Just a couple of weeks back, we recovered $100 million for the Nigeria Ports Authority, but the monies were paid into the account of NPA through our efforts.
“Am I not going to record that we have recovered such an amount for NPA?
“Are you going to see it in the EFCC recovered account with the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria)? No!
“There are recoveries that are made directly into the EFCC account.
“It is through systems and processes.%
“There is Department of Asset Forfeiture and Recovery Management in EFCC responsible for collating all the data regarding recovered assets, assets on interim forfeiture and assets on final forfeiture as well as their locations and of course their management.”
Bawa expressed concern over the rising cases of internet frauds involving the youth across the country.
He said over 1,500 internet fraudsters were apprehended in the last six months, adding they would soon be prosecuted in court.
“The rising cases of internet fraud is a huge problem for the Commission.
“From January to June  10, 2021, we arrested 1,502 internet fraudsters across the country.
“On Monday that the court resumed, we attempted to file close to about 800 cases of internet fraud.
“It is a serious problem, and we are working tirelessly towards curtailing it.
“We are working with state governments that we have identified to be more vulnerable to this. It is something parents, elders, institutions should be talking to one another.
“It is tarnishing the image of this country.
“They are doing it on a daily basis.
“They see it as another way of getting another income, which is worrisome to us.
“The chunk of those doing this are young boys between 25 and 34, in their active lives.
“Coincidentally, I am one of them, being a young man.
“People from my constituency are the ones doing this, and we will continue to talk to them.
“The Commission is focused on these cyber criminals and will continue to carry out enlightenment, carry their fight to their enclave and collaborate with our partners, particularly the media.
“We need your assistance here.
“We are building a tactical centre that will solely deal with this issue of cybercrime.”
Bawa revealed that the Commission had secured over 185 prosecutions, while the prosecution of high profile politicians involved in corruption would soon resume as court workers have suspended their strike action.
“All the known politically-exposed persons cases that you are aware of that are in court are still in court and we are vigorously and intelligently going to sustain their prosecution.
“Yesterday (Wednesday), you have all reported it, we succeeded in securing the convictions of an ex-bank MD, Francis Atuche.
“He was sentenced to six years imprisonment on all 21 out of the 27 count charges.
“Of course, it is to run concurrently.
“It involves about N27 billion.
“We have been prosecuting that matter from October 16, 2009.
“Judgement was only given yesterday (June 16).
“We are determined to continue to prosecute no matter how long it takes and no matter the amount of resources involved.
“And that is why those of us in law enforcement say it time and time again, there is no budget in law enforcement, because you never can tell where it will take you.
“It can take you up to the six continents and back and you have to prove your case beyond all reasonable doubts.
“The case of Air Marshal Adesola Amodu is ongoing, Ibrahim Shema, Adebayo Alao-Akala, Ikedi Ohakim, Muazu Aliyu, Orji Uzor Kalu, etc. We are going to prosecute him (Kalu) again all over after 12 years,” he said.

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