The acting executive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, on Sunday in Osogbo, capital of Osun State disclosed that a whopping sum of N738 billion allegedly stolen by corrupt individuals, through their positions in government had been retrieved by the anti-graft agency in the last two years.
He maintained that the argument in some quarters that the arrest and prosecution of some corrupt Nigerians were prompted by the regions, religion and political affiliations was baseless and laughable, stressing that the EFCC only goes after individuals, who have acquired questionable wealth via fraudulent and corrupt acts either in public and private sector.
Magu, who made these disclosures while delivering the convocation lecture as part of the activities, commemorating founders’ day and 7th graduation ceremony of Fountain University, Osogbo affirmed that “for the fight against corruption to succeed, more needs be done by way of not seeing the war against corruption as a Buhari/Osinbajo affair.”
The EFCC boss, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr Olanipekun Olukoyede, stated that “it is true that with the support and encouragement of the duo, the EFCC has in the last two years retrieved more than N738 billion naira that were illegally acquired by corrupt individuals using either their positions in government or access to those in government.”
According to him, “money has been found stashed in all manner of places by corrupt people. Hiding places have gone beyond the familiar ceilings and safes that we all know of, to include overhead water tanks, septic tanks, refrigerators and deep freezers.
“Those that could not transfer their loot to shores outside the country kept coming up with bizarre ways of ensuring that their loot was safe. Efforts were made by looters to launder what monies they have by buying landed property, jewellery and shares to conceal the odious origin of what they have stolen.”
Magu continued, “one need not be told that N738 billion is no small change. To appreciate what it could have done for the nation if it had been properly invested and spent as it should, we should know that this amount is way greater than the combined allocation to the health sector in 2015 and 2016 budgets which added up to N562 billion.”
“In the 2018 budget estimates placed before the National Assembly, the president proposes to spend 605.8 billion naira on education. In other words, what was corruptly stolen and now recovered by my commission, the EFCC, is more than what was budgeted for all the Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Education and the Universal Basic Education being funded by the federal government in 2018.”
“This was why I said we owe it to ourselves, it is a jihad for all of us to help wage the war against corruption. It is unpatriotic and a shirking of our responsibilities as citizens to fold our arms and leave the fight against corruption to President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the EFCC and a handful of others. We are all stakeholders in the fight against economic and financial crimes; together we can defeat this evil.
“I do not doubt the possibility and capacity of a few committed and determined men and women to stop corruption in Nigeria. Every day I get encouraged by the show of support and words of encouragement we get from people spanning a broad spectrum of the Nigerian demographics.
“These people call on the phone, some write letters, others physically visit our office, not to talk of those that engage us in one-on-one talks at public functions. We have even learnt of special prayers organised by churches and mosques asking for divine protection and success for us and the work that we do,” Magu asserted.
While observing that the coming into being of the EFCC, at the time it did was most germane, the anti-graft agency boss averred that “at a point in the history of this country it was getting difficult, if not impossible, to do honest and legitimate business within the country and with others from outside the country,” adding that corruption had so permeated the nation, it looked like there were no honest and decent individuals.
Magu further lamented that “within the public service a culture of impunity had taken roots, massive looting of public resources and the wholesale graft was the order of the day. Officers entrusted with the commonwealth saw that as an opportunity to enrich themselves to the detriment of the poor and impoverished masses”.
“Public institutions were worse off arising from the corruption that was endemic in the public service. Our public-owned educational institutions, hospitals, water boards, roads, mass transportation systems, etc are in a sorry state because monies voted for their construction, repairs, upgrade, or supplies are criminally misappropriated and diverted by dishonest government officials.
“Consequently, the poor state of our education, the tragic condition in our hospitals, the dilapidated roads, and absence of germ-free water flowing from our taps, are what we are reaping due to the corruption of the few that have found a place in the public service,” he remarked.
“Magu emphasised that “corruption could have killed Nigeria if the rate at which corruption was festering then had not been checked. Take, for instance, the money stolen by just 55 people between 2006 and 2013 is well over 1.3 trillion naira. One-third of this monies, using world bank rates and cost could have comfortably been used to construct 635.15 Km of roads; built 183 schools; educate 3974 children from primary to tertiary level at N25.24 million per child; built 20,062 units of 2 bedroom houses across the country and do even more”.
In his remark, Osun State governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola tasked the graduands to embrace productivity, saying there was need for all and sundry to be conscious of the imminent end to revenues accruable through the oil sector