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EFCC recovers $9.75m, N1.25bn in 2 weeks

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brahim Magu, Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday confirmed the recovery of 9.75 million dollars and 750,000 pounds from a residence in Kaduna state.

He also confirmed that N1.25 billion was recovered from a public servant and said that all the monies were recovered within two weeks.

Magu stated this in a report he presented to the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes during the 2016 budget performance appraisal and defence of 2017 budget before the committee.

He said the commission recovered N102.91 billion, 8.30 million dollars, GBP 29,155, 12,475 pounds, 117,004 Canadian dollars as proceeds of crime between January and December, 2016.

Other monies recovered during the period, he said, were 806.50 Dirham, 5,000 Francs and 2,000 Rupees.

“Out of the 37 accounts frozen/forfeited, six banks are yet to provide relevant information on the amount accrued into the suspected accounts within the period under review,’’ he said.

The document revealed that the commission secured 135 convictions, out of which 46 were from Lagos zone, 30 from Abuja zone, 22 from Port Harcourt zone, 19 from Kano zone, 15 from Enugu zone and three from Gombe zone during the period.

Magu acknowledged the support of the committee towards fast-tracking completing of EFCC headquarters in Abuja.

He disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Finance had listed the payment of N1.8 billion out of N2.9 billion meant for completion of the headquarters.

He, however, added that the commission had resuscitated its offices in Kaduna, Ibadan, Benin and Maiduguri as part of efforts to boost its operations across the country.

Magu urged the legislature to support the fight against graft, saying “corruption is fighting back”.

On recruitment, he said that the commission only recruited 331 cadets on equal quota basis across the country except Lagos, Ekiti, Bayelsa and Rivers with lower numbers.

Giving breakdown of the 2016 appropriated allocation to the commission, Magu told the committee that total budgetary approval was N18.89 billion, but that N14.74 billion representing 78.04 per cent was released.

He explained that N7.62 billion was for personnel cost, overhead was N2.75 billion while capital expenditure was N8.49 billion for the year.

Magu added that 91.1 per cent component of the released funds had so far been utilised.

Earlier, Chairman of the committee, Rep. Kayode Oladele, said that Nigeria had applied to join the league of members of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international anti-corruption agency.

He said that the move was part of efforts to strengthen ongoing anti-corruption crusade in the country.

Oladele, who lauded the development, expressed optimism that Nigeria would be admitted as “Observer Member’’ by the end of the year and would become full-time member in the nearest future.

“Our collective efforts to unleash sustainable development in Nigeria through the rooting out of corruption will not produce the desired result if Nigeria is unable to transact in the international market place without let or hindrance.

“In this regard, Nigeria has applied to join the FATF and based on the level of our commitment.

“A high-level delegation from the FATF is due to visit Nigeria in March, 2017, to meet with various stakeholders and report back to its plenary in June, this year.

“I have no doubt that we will be successfully accredited and admitted at the end of the exercise,” he said.

Oladele commended EFCC for the successes recorded so far and said: “for the first time in Nigeria’s history, anti-corruption searchlights have been beamed on the judiciary and the revelations have been mind-blogging.

“In addition, similar exercises in the arms procurement process by the Nigerian military have also led to several arrests.

“Overall, the EFCC made the highest number of recoveries of stolen resources, running into billions of naira in a single year in the annals of Nigeria’s anti-corruption efforts.”

The chairman solicited the support of Nigerians in stemming the scourge of corruption in various facets of the economy.

According to him, the fight against corruption is one of the most potent weapons to fight recession which structural cause is rooted in waste, looting, misplacement of priorities and misappropriation of yesteryears.

Oladele also pledged the support of the house to the EFCC and assured of life assurance for the commission’s operatives

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Army withholds salaries of 45 soldiers in Borno

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Authorities of the 7 Division Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, have withheld the salaries of 45 soldiers, according to sources.

The soldiers, who were among the 149 troops of the 153 Task Force Battalion withdrawn from Marte, Borno State, after spending three years in counterinsurgency operations, were accused of for abandoning their duty posts.

The battalion came under attack on three occasions during which several soldiers were killed while a range of weapons, equipment and vehicles were either carted away or destroyed.

The battalion was overhauled after the last attack in February.

A source said necessary changes were made and troops who served with the battalion were moved to different formations in Maiduguri before a new deployment was made.

“Some of the soldiers who were not seen at their new units were believed to have gone on AWOL (Absence Without Leave). Their salaries accounts were not credited in April,” he said.

But one of the affected soldiers said the allegation of desertion against them was untrue.

“We were not given our salaries and when we asked our supervisors in the 7 Division, we were shocked to hear that we had forfeited all our entitlements over desertion.”

Attempts to get the response of army authorities were not successful.

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EFCC goes after top officials of PDP over N10bn scandal

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The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has invited officials of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for questioning over alleged criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of funds and fraud.

This is coming barely a month after a chieftain in the PDP, Kazeem Afegbua, petitioned the anti-graft agency to scrutinise the Secondus-led National Working Committee on financial misappropriation.

In the letter of invitation dated May 17, 2021, and addressed to the Prince Uche Secondus, the EFCC said the need to obtain certain clarification from the party has become imperative.

The agency, however, requested the party’s National chairman to release the National Auditor, National Organising Secretary and Director of Finance to report at the EFCC headquarters from May 19th to 21st 2021.

The agency also requested the national officers to honor the invitation with relevant documents relating to sole of forms into the party’s elective positions from January 2017 to date.

Kazeem had in his petition alleged that much of the financial transactions of the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus has been shrouded in mystery, accusing the leadership of deliberate attempt to shortchange the party in the build up to the 2023 general elections.

However, Secondus had since denied the allegation and filed a N1 billion suit against the petitioner, Kazeem Afegbua.

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Nigeria’s drug control agency approves new COVID-19 vaccine

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has granted approval for the conditional emergency use of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is the third vaccine recommended for administration in the country.

The director-general of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojiola Adeyeye, in a statement on Tuesday, said information on the vaccine shows it met the criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.

She said, “The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a single dose. Results from a clinical trial involving people in the United States, South Africa and Latin American countries found that Janssen COVID-19 vaccine was effective at preventing COVID-19 in people from 18 years of age.

“The Phase III clinical trial involved over 44,000 people. Half received a single dose of the vaccine and half were given placebo (a dummy injection). People did not know if they had been given Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or placebo.

According to her, the trial showed a 67 per cent reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after two weeks in people who received Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.

The most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate in severity and lasted 1-2 days.

On the vaccine safety, Adeyeye said NAFDAC, in line with its pharmacovigilance and safety monitoring plan for COVID-19 vaccines, will closely monitor and subject the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to several activities that apply specifically to COVID-19 vaccines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine which Nigeria has been giving out has garnered many sceptics internationally after some recipients of the vaccine died.

At least 16 countries including Germany, France and Sweden have suspended the use of AstraZeneca, which put on the Nigerian government to suspend it.

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