Posted by News Express | 5 March 2014 | 3,636 times
From the United States came a heavy knock for the Nigerian Government on its fight against corrupt as the 2013 State Department Annual Report on Nigeria revealed how the Goodluck Jonathan has been frustrating the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The report in its Section 4 titled ‘Corruption and lack of Transparency in Government’ among others stated that “the EFCC faced several frustrating setbacks during the year (2013).” “In January the EFCC won the conviction of John Yakubu Yusuf for embezzling two billion naira ($12.6 million) from the Police Pension Fund, which carried with it a two-year prison sentence. The judge fined Yusuf N250,000 naira ($1,570) in lieu of prison time . . . The day following this judgment, the EFCC re-arrested Yusuf on the charge of failing to declare a N250 million ($1.57 million) bank account on his mandatory Declaration of Assets Form; Yusuf remained in custody pending trial at the end of the year,” the report reads.
The most offending action of the Nigerian Government, according to the report, was the Presidential Pardon granted former Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha “who was convicted in 2008 for embezzling more than $10 million in state funds. While Alamieyeseigha served two years in prison and forfeited the property he held in the country, he was still wanted in the United Kingdom on money laundering charges, and another foreign government seized his assets. By granting him a pardon, President Jonathan paved the way for Alamieyeseigha to run for another elected office or to hold other appointed offices.”
According to the US State Department, “Despite the arrest of several high-ranking officials by the EFCC, allegations continued that agency investigations targeted individuals who had fallen out of favor with the government, while those who were in favor continued their activities with
On the activities of the EFCC, the report states that “in February 2012 the EFCC brought criminal charges against former governor of Bayelsa State Timipre Sylva for laundering almost five billion ($31.4 million) of funds belonging to Bayelsa State. In October 2012 the EFCC seized 48 properties worth approximately one billion naira ($6.3 million) allegedly belonging to Silva in Abuja.” Silva was granted bail in January.
“The EFCC discovered still more evidence of Sylva’s money laundering activities, and after he refused to co-operate with the investigation, the EFCC arrested him again in May to bring new charges, raising the amount of money he was suspected of laundering to 6.46 billion naira ($40.6 million). The court held Sylva in custody for one month before granting him bail of 100 million naira($628,000); the court refused his request to return his passports to travel to London with his wife,” the report adds.
The report under consideration noted that, EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Larmorde, who took over office in 2011,continued previous cases or brought new cases against 12 nationally prominent public officials, while the commission faced several frustrating setbacks during the year, In conclusion, the report noted that “the trial of Representative Farouk Lawal for soliciting a bribe from Femi Otedola, president and chief executive officer of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, started on October 23. On July 4, the Federal High Court in Abuja acquitted former Minister of Works and Housing Hassan Lawal. In May 2011 the EFCC arrested Lawal on 24 counts of fraudulently awarding contracts, money laundering and embezzlement of 75 billion ($471 million). On May 28, the Federal High Court in Abuja started the trial of former Speaker of the House of Representatives Dimeji Bankole for making fraudulent contracts worth 894 million naira ($5.6 million); it continued at year’s end.”
The report laments that police corruption which remains “rampant” while there is no legislative protection for whistleblowers. It also observes the non-disclosure of President Jonathan’s assets and the lackluster in implementation of the “Public Access to Information” Law by the Federal Government.
•Photo shows President Jonathan.
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