Owing to monumental graft cases involving civil servants, the Senate has charged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to beam its searchlight on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), ministries, agencies and departments of the Federal Government.
The Upper Legislative Chamber gave the charge to the commission when its acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu and other EFCC officials appeared before the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption to defend its budget.
The committee said unbridled stealing of public funds by government officials was partly responsible for the recession the country is experiencing.
A member of the committee, Senator Isa Misau wondered how one person: a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Andrew Yakubu could beat the system to amass and stockpile foreign currencies to the tune of $9.7 million, £74, 000 and naira.
Misau said the indiscriminate stealing of government funds has reached an alarming level in the country such that the amount of US dollars in circulation in Nigeria is much more than what the United States Federal Reserve Bank could boast off.
The lawmaker lamented: “In Nigeria of today, the US dollars and other foreign currencies being stashed in secret places were not being used for trading and business transactions to promote the economy.
“Those who are in possession of these foreign currencies exploit the loopholes in the CBN and channel them through the parallel market to make quick gains, thus destabilising the naira,” Misau said.
He alleged that government officials, past and present, with their ill-gotten wealth are the landlords of choice properties, in exclusive areas of Abuja, Lagos and other major Nigerians cities.
Misau told the EFCC to seek avenues for reviewing its law to ensure that ill-gotten money and properties are not only confiscated, but their owners made to spend long years in jail.
According to the senator, “It is painful that EFCC would just arrest some of these people and after a week in custody release them on bail and at the end, nothing is heard about their cases. This is not what we want in Nigeria.”
The committee chairman, Senator Chukwuka Utazi praised EFCC’s efforts in the fight against corruption. He charged the officials to always do the needful in the fight to save Nigeria from the clutches of corruption.
Utazi assured the agency of support of the Senate in every area necessary to make it discharge its duties in accordance with the law.