By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, lamented on Wednesday that 80 percent of Nigeria’s looted funds were still trapped abroad while 60 percent of the stolen wealth was hidden in Nigeria by fraudulent and highly placed persons he described as ‘sharks’.
But he has vowed to take all necessary steps to unravel and retrieve the stolen wealth and bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice no matter how long and tedious the judicial process might be.
Magu made the revelation at a media briefing in Abuja, where he also vowed to comply with a Federal Territory High Court order to produce former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison Madueke, in court within 72 hours to stand trial for alleged graft while in office.
But Magu lamented that the efforts of the commission to extradite Diezani were hampered by the fact that the former powerful minister was in a foreign jurisdiction, which makes it a bit more difficult to produce her immediately as directed by the court.
Magu said however that in compliance with the court order, the commission had stepped up effort to persuade the British authorities to extradite Diezani, having not charged her for any offence in the last three years, as widely expected, to enable her to face prosecution in Nigeria for sundry economic and financial crimes.
The chairman said, “We are going to comply with the court order to bring back the former minister.
Our only predicament is that the former minister is in another country which we are talking with over the matter. If she is here we would simply hand her over to the judge.
Let me also say that it is not true that Diezani has no case in Britain. All the EU countries are aware of her money laundering case. If we cannot get her within the deadline we will go back to the court”.
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Magu denied claim that the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office had not established any case against the former minister and was therefore not pressing any charges against her but expressed fear the prolonged delay in charging her to court had already sent wrong signals to Nigerians at home and abroad.
Magu however assured that there would not be any diplomatic row between Nigeria and the U.K over the delay in bringing charges against the woman, saying that both countries were strong partners in the fight against graft and would continue to collaborate in that regard in order to stem the rising tide of global money laundering.
The chairman pointed out that it was in a deliberate bid to recover stolen wealth and make more money available for national development that the federal government introduced the whistle-blower policy, which he said, was still in force and assured that anyone who gives information leading to the recovery of stolen wealth would be paid the five percent reward.
Magu also shed light on the lingering investigation on how top Presidency officials received kickbacks running into billions of Dollars from the American oil and energy firm-Halliburton in the early days of the PDP Presidency, saying that the anti-graft agency was working hard to determine how the huge bribes were shared in order to take appropriate actions against the culprits but did not give further details.