The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC),Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has disclosed that the anti-graft agency has seized a mansion worth N3.58bn ($18m at the official exchange rate of N199 to a dollar) in the Asokoro area of Abuja reportedly belonging to the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke. Magu made this known this during an interview with Al-Jazeera, a Qatar-based news network.
During the interview, Magu also said that, “We have been able to take on a lot of big shots that were hitherto untouchable in the three arms of the military, political class. We have recorded 164 convictions in just one year.”
Meanwhile, in a statement on Monday, the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said the anti-graft agency has the right to seize properties believed to have been acquired with stolen funds. According to him, “In recent times, a lot of interest has been generated by the action of the commission in freezing the accounts of suspects that were investigated or are currently being investigated. Some commentators have tended to ascribe vindictive motives to this action. In order to prevent misinformation, it is imperative to explain the reason behind the commission’s actions in this regard.
“Freezing of accounts suspected of being used for commission of financial crimes is a mandatory investigative step backed by law. Indeed, Section 34 (1) of the EFCC Act 2004 empowers the commission to freeze any account suspected of being used for financial crimes. The section stipulates that ‘the chairman of the commission or any officer authorised by him may, if satisfied that the money in the account of a person is made through the commission of an offence under this Act or any enactment specified under Section 6(2) (a)-(f) of this Act, apply to the court exparte for power to issue or instruct a bank examiner or such other appropriate authority to freeze the account.”