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EFCC won’t hand over cases of interest to any state —Bawa

The chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, has declared that the commission, under his leadership, would not hand over cases of interest to any state government.

Bawa spoke against the backdrop of the setting up of anti-corruption agencies by some states.

Lagos, Kano, and Bayelsa states have, recently, set up anti-graft agencies.

Some of the states envisage that the EFCC would hand over corruption cases concerning their states to the local anti-corruption commissions.

The EFCC chairman also denied asking the management teams of banks to declare theirs assets to the commission.

He insisted his pronouncement was merely for purposes of eliciting information, as the agency was not empowered to dish out such an order.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with THISDAY, the EFCC boss stated that as a creation of the National Assembly, the federal agency superseded any similar agency set up by the states.

He stated: “I am aware that Kano and Bayelsa have started their own anti-corruption agencies.

“But those laws do not contain anything that says that EFCC has nothing to do with investigating their states, they would rather be complementing what the EFCC is doing.

“There are a lot of Supreme Court decided cases on this particular issue.

“From the briefing that I have received, those things are already there.

“The EFCC is a creation of the National Assembly, which, of course, supersedes, when it comes to that. So, there’s already a federal legislation.

“We are yet to see how the EFCC is going to hand over cases that they are interested in to any state government or see any correspondence to that effect.

“We are investigating our matters. In that regard, we are making progress.”

Bawa also expressed doubt over the capacity of states to handle certain investigations in view of the capital-intensive nature.

His words: “What I can say is that law enforcement is a very, very expensive venture and requires a lot of training and retraining, with trends of crime developing everyday, every second, and you need to catch up with people doing that.

“Take, for instance, issues of money laundering.

“Where, maybe, somebody somewhere has laundered the proceeds of crime, let’s say somewhere in Sokoto and you are in Oyo State or you have property, a lot of things will come up.

“Maybe he has property in America, you need to carry out request, involving mutual legal assistance treaty between, let’s say, Nigeria and America, whether or not the American government will recognise that.

“So, a lot of things left, right and centre are at play regarding it. It is very, very expensive.

“Then, the issue of capacity. Yes, anybody can develop a capacity to do that. But let’s wait and see.”

Addressing the alleged demand for declaration of assets by bankers, Bawa said it was within the powers of the agency to make such demands.

However, he said: “I did not say banks will come and declare their assets to us. It is not within our powers to demand for that.

“But it is within our powers to demand for information. You and associate (s) without any hindrance or failure must give us information on demand.

“If you are an individual or corporate entity or company, it is an offence not to comply.

“That is why we write to individuals, politicians to submit to us so that we will compare, because if you are a suspect, before us, you are expected to even fill our own declaration of assets form here.”

He explained further, “We write to CCB, for instance, to furnish us what you declared. Yes, we write them to give us information on what you declared so that we can make comparison.

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