Over N356bn in financial crime linked to past governors, ministers, others

Timelines.Over N356bn in financial crime linked to past governors, ministers, others

A report produced by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) has revealed that between 2007 and 2023, N356.18 billion in financial crime was linked to 100 people in Nigeria.

Within the 17 years under review, financial crimes were linked to 12 governors, 12 ministers and advisers, seven senators and 69 others.

These crimes include fraud, corruption, embezzlement of funds, money laundering, bribes, forgery, misappropriation, false declaration and other infractions.

The report showed that fraud and money laundering accounted for 76 per cent of the nine financial crimes surveyed.

For instance, the Federal High Court, Abuja, on February 6, 2023, discharged former governor of Imo state and senator representing Imo West Senatorial District, Rochas Okorocha, of N2.9 billion fraud charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Also, the Maiduguri Zonal Command of EFCC is prosecuting a former Minister of Science and Technology, Abdu Bulama, on a seven-count charge of criminal conspiracy and money laundering of N450 million.

In another case, the EFCC re-arraigned Mamman Nasir Ali, son of Ahmadu Ali, a former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his co-defendant, Christian Taylor, for an alleged N2.2 billion oil subsidy fraud.

The data revealed that at least 11 former governors and seven former ministers or advisers were linked to fraud cases, while 13 former governors were linked to money laundering cases.

The Chairman of the HEDA Resource Centre, Olanrewaju Suraju, told The ICIR that the report was launched after monitoring many criminal trials involving high-profile persons in the country who are also in government.

He said, “The country system continues to as if many of these suspected public looters are the possession of resources or have amassed resources that are beyond their legitimate earning, which is a fundamental indication of the complete failure of our judicial system and administration of criminal justice.”

Analysis of the report
According to HEDA’s findings, the highest cases intercepted by prosecuting agencies were between 2022 and 2023, with 27 and 35 crimes, while the other 38 cases were between 2007 and 2021.

The prosecuting agencies include EFCC, Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property (SPIPRPP) and the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission (KSPCAC).

The data showed that 69 cases were prosecuted by the EFCC, 23 cases by ICPC, two cases by KSPCAC, and one each by SPIPRPP and NDLEA, while the data of four cases were not provided.

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Breaking down by judgement pronounced in the court, 60 of the 100 cases are still ongoing, 13 have been dismissed, 10 accused have been sentenced, and five persons were convicted but later discharged.

Also, three properties relating to the accused have been seized, three cases are stalled, two are under investigation, and four others are pending.

Suraju noted that the challenge for prosecuting agencies, like EFCC, ICPC and others, hasd been political interference that tends to exonerate leaders in government from investigation or prosecution.

He said, “The country system continues to pretend as if we don’t know that many of these suspected public officials have resources or have amassed resources that are beyond their legitimate earning, which is a fundamental indication of the complete failure of our judicial system and administration of criminal justice.”

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