Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu yesterday said the Commission will recover public funds stolen in the guise of arms procurement.
He also said the culprits in the arms scandal would be brought to justice, adding that the commission was on top of the ongoing investigation.
Magu spoke at the commemoration of the International Anti-corruption Day at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.
This is the first time he has spoken on the ongoing investigation of the more than $2.1billion arms scandal.
He said: ‘‘Corruption is like a chain whose effect impacts various aspects of the society, undermines democracy and the rule of law, distorts markets, erodes quality of life, leads to human rights violations and fans the embers of terrorism and other threats to human security.
“I am sure that many of you would have read in the newspapers stories about the Commission’s on-going investigation into the arms procurement scandal.
“I can assure you that the Commission is on top of that investigation. We will spare no effort to ensure that we recover every kobo of public funds that have been stolen in the guise of arms procurement.”
The EFCC chairman promised to embark on radical reforms of the agency.
He added: “The on-going implementation of its Strategic Plan continues to provide the Commission with the increasing organisational capacities necessary to explore its expanding abilities in corruption prevention and enforcement as well as law enforcement coordination and collaboration.
“I plan to undertake further institutional reforms to increase our capacity to fight corruption in Nigeria. Thankfully, the stance of the current government against corruption has created an enabling environment for us to carry out our mandate.”
While promising to break the corruption chain in a fair, accountable and transparent manner, Magu sought the cooperation of civil society organisations and other stakeholders in the anti-graft war.
He said: ‘‘Our common resolve is far stronger than the challenges we face in the fight against corruption. I call on you to embrace the EFCC’s public enlightenment campaigns, the activities of our Zero Tolerance Clubs in tertiary institutions and our inter-faith initiatives because in this effort to break the corruption chain. No man is an island and only when we work together can we make a difference.’’
He said the commission had so far investigated 1,881 cases in 2015 alone.
“Out of this figure, 280 cases were filed in courts and 78 convictions were secured.
“In this period also, eight interim and two final forfeiture orders were handed down by various courts on applications brought by the Commission”.
Magu thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for creating an enabling environment for the Commission to fight corruption.
Earlier, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, spoke of the “disastrous impacts” of corruption on development when funds meant for social amenities are diverted by public office holders for their personal use.
Ban Ki-moon, who was represented added that corruption could exacerbate violence and insecurity.
‘‘It is time to deliver a clear message around the world that rejects corruption and embraces the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance. This will benefit communities and countries; and it will help to usher in a better future for all,’’ he added.
The Director-General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, BPSR, Dr. Joe Abah, called for the enhancement of the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.
He further stated that the newly introduced zero- based budgeting would ensure discipline in the implementation of budgets.
Lilian Ekeanyanwu, representing the Technical Unit on Governance and Anti-Corruption Reforms, TUGAR, urged the anti-corruption community to take advantage of the positive body language.
“We must hit the ground running. We must have a national strategy to bring awareness about the issue of corruption and find methods to curb the malaise, while keeping the populace involved,” she said.
The Deputy Chief Mission of the United States Embassy, Maria E. Brewer, said corruption could undermine institutions and slow development of any nation.
She said that the United States was ready to partner with Nigeria in the fight against corruption.
This year’s anti-corruption day was organised by the Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT), the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). It holds on December 9, every year.
At the event, which featured a debate on corruption elimination between students of Light Way Academy and Model Secondary School Maitama, Abuja, were participants from the Budget Office, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission, ICPC, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, TUGAR, Bureau of Public Procurement, Corporate Affairs Commission, Public Complaints Commission, Police, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Finance, among others.