Acting Executive Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulkarim Chukkol has cautioned family members and friends of politicians and other political office holders to beware of proceeds of illegal activities of office holders or risk going to jail.
Chukkol gave this warning during a training workshop for Benue journalists on “Effective Reporting of Economic and Financial Crimes”, organized on Thursday, by the Makurdi Zonal Command.
He disclosed that under the Money Laundering Act, 2022, family members and close allies of politicians and public office holders, including top civil servants, are now classified as Politically Exposed Persons.
He urged the media to educate family members and friends of politicians and others holding political offices that they run the risk of going to jail if they allow their companies or bank accounts to be used to launder proceeds of illegal activities.
Chukkol, who was represented by the Zonal Head, Makurdi Zonal Command, Mr Friday Ebelo, an Assistant Commander of EFCC, said the EFCC is determined to ensure that anyone who steals from the public treasury and all those who assist them to do so under whatever guise, are brought to justice and ignorance of the law will not be an excuse.
According to him, the workshop, which is the ninth in the series by the Commission this year and the first outing in Makurdi Zonal Command, was designed to upgrade the skills of media men and women to enable them discharge their duties as financial crime reporters more efficiently.
“The decision to engage you all in a training session is buoyed by the appreciation of the fact that you occupy a strategic place in the fight against corruption.
“You are the vehicle through which the EFCC reaches the Nigerian public with information about our operations.
“You also play crucial roles in helping to mobilize the people to embrace the fight against corruption. This makes the media one of the most critical allies of the EFCC.”
He applauded the media for their efforts in projecting the activities of the commission saying what the EFCC is today is largely due to the support and the critical views of the media.
He added that “Our partnership has been progressive and is still evolving. We greatly value your critical reviews as it has ensured that we remain faithful to the Nigerian people in the discharge of our mandate and we owe the media a debt of gratitude for the successes we have recorded in the last twenty years.”
Chukkol therefore, urged the media to continue to align itself with the progressive aspirations of Nigerians, to see that corruption is reduced to the barest minimum, if not completely eliminated.
“The impact of the Commission on the economic life of the nation is widely acknowledged. Through the Commission’s enforcement activities, recoveries running into several billions of Naira have been recorded and the country’s anti-money laundering framework strengthened.
“A key component of this framework is the reinvigorated Special Control Unit against Money Laundering, (SCUML), which is driving the fight against money laundering and illicit financial flows among Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions, (DNFBPs).
“There is now a more robust regulation of the activities of these entities which are vulnerable to money laundering.”
He also noted that in spite of the enforcement and enlightenment efforts of the Commission, the involvement of youths in cybercrime within the zone has continued, a development he described as worrisome.
The EFCC boss appealed to the media to lend a hand in helping to sensitize the youth against internet-related fraud activities.
He said the youths must be reminded that they can productively use the resources available in the cyberspace for legitimate pursuits without embracing criminality.
In his paper titled ” Challenges of Prosecuting Economic and Financial Crimes in Nigeria by Legal and Prosecution Department, Ramiah Ikhanaede, disclosed that despite challenges, the commission has recorded successes in its activities.
He said in 2022 alon, the commission recorded 3,785 convictions nationwide while the Makurdi Zonal command which was established in 2019 has recorded 107 convictions from 2019 to September 2023.
Ikhanaede said there was need for continued public enlightenment, punitive measures for financial offenders just as he called for a change in the get-rich-quick syndrome and a reward for honesty to discourage financial criminality.
He also called for the establishment of more courts and training of more judges to enable the commission carry out it’s duty effectively.