•Anti-graft boss explains how accused, lawyers stall trial
From ADETUTU FOLASADE-KOYI, Abuja
The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, yesterday gave reasons the agency could not secure conviction of treasury looters. He told the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes in Abuja that the judiciary is the main culprit hindering the EFCC from prosecuting the big thieves.
Lamorde, who appeared before the committee to defend the commission’s budget, said that the agency recorded no lees than 200 convictions, mainly advanced fee fraud (aka 419) and yahoo-yahoo suspects this year alone Lamorde told the Victor Lar-led committee that criminals use a convoluted judicial system to frustrate trial, adding that the commission has established an Assets Forfeiture Department.
According to him, “the truth is no case had been concluded. I don’t think it is correct to say that whether the charges were not properly prepared or the prosecution is not putting the case properly. Of course, the fact on ground is that no case had been concluded… “We have an 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 the Court of Appeal and lose there, but they will still go to the Supreme Court. At the Supreme Court when they lost, 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 “This year alone, we 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 its 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.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Naval Committee, Senator Chris Anyanwu, has said that crude oil theft in Niger Delta is a hemorrhage on the economy. Anyanwu stated this when the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba led Naval top brass to defend the 2013 budget. “On the issue of oil theft, Nigeria has never had it this bad. It’s unprecedented. There’s a hemorrhage on the country’s projected revenue and I believe the Navy can do very well if they are supported.”