Published On: Mon, Apr 22nd, 2013

35 Percent of EFCC Budget Spent to Investigate Ibori

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Chief James Ibori

About 35 percent of N15 billion annual budget of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC was spent by the United Kingdom to investigate money laundering allegations against former Delta governor, James Onanefe Ibori.
This revelation was made by a senior lawyer and private prosecutor for the EFCC, Chief Godwin Obla, in an interview with our correspondent.

Obla, who regretted the poor funding of the anticorruption agency, in the face of high expectations from the public, drew parallels between the commitment of the UK government in fighting money laundering offences as exemplified in the huge budget it expended in securing Ibori’s conviction – and the perceived inadequate funding of the commission by the Federal Government.
The development, he noted, was indicative of the lack of seriousness on the part of the federal government to sincerely and painstakingly prosecute the war against corruption in Nigeria.
He wondered why the public would expect so much from the anti-graft agency, “with a budget of maybe N15 billion a year”, which he added, covers investigation of federal ministries and agencies, the thirty six states, local governments, as well as the private sector.
Furthermore, he disclosed that the establishment is expected to hire the services of private prosecutors with N300 million; an amount he said “some law firms…get in just two cases, defending an accused person.”
It was against this backdrop that he arrived at a damning conclusion that, “we are not serious people”in the fight against corruption. While challenging the government to show details of how much it invests in aspects of “our lives”, he, nonetheless, warned that corruption remained the greatest threat confronting the nation’s security.
His words: “Very recently, I had cause to remind people that…the cost of prosecuting (James) Ibori in England for money laundering was about 35 per cent of the entire budget of the EFCC, and that is just one case. That was what the British government spent to investigate and prosecute Ibori.
“Now, this EFCC, with a budget of maybe N15 billion a year, is the organisation that will have to investigate federal agencies and ministries, investigate thirty six states of the federation, investigate seven hundred and seventy four local government councils and then investigate the private sector.
“We are not serious people;and then you budget N300 million for EFCC to get external lawyers. “So, a country gets what it deserves. If the country is not ready to fund EFCC, the country must not have too much expectation of EFCC. What you reap is what you sow, and the country is reaping from where it is sowing.
“Nobody has any right to complain. Let us know how much you have been investing in so many aspects of our lives. “Even the overhead cost alone of some ministries is more than what the EFCC is getting, and whether we like it or not, corruption is the biggest threat we have to our own security…”
On the feeling in some quarters that the EFCC had often been found wanting, especially in terms of diligent prosecution, the former council boss explained: “A lot of people don’t know the circumstances under which the EFCC operates and they look at it from a one-sided position. “How many times have courts in Nigeria struck out a charge for lack of diligent prosecution?”, he asked.
Source: Tslk of Naija

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