By Frank Oshanugor
The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has sought greater collaboration with financial institutions in the country as a way of tackling fraudulent election financing, foreign exchange malpractices and money laundering.
Speaking on Thursday, during an interactive session with managing directors of banks in Nigeria at the Conference Hall of the Lagos Zonal Command of the Commission, he said it was important to bring the financial institutions in the country up to speed with the evolving policies in the Commission, in line with the United Nations’ categorization of the fight against corruption vis-à-vis prevention, enforcement and assets recovery.
According to him, “At the EFCC, we want to place more emphasis on prevention. We want to lay less emphasis on enforcement, which is investigation and prosecution and put our energy more on prevention and asset recovery.
“In addition, some of the issues we have identified include foreign exchange malpractices and fraudulent election financing.
“As you all know, in 16 to 18 months, Nigeria will be preparing for another round of elections and the government will not want what happened in the past to repeat itself”.
The EFCC boss said it had become necessary to put bankers on their toes, particularly as the 2023 general elections approached.
Bawa, who also stressed that the “new EFCC” under his leadership believes that the financial institutions have an important role to play in the Commission’s efforts to rid Nigeria of economic and financial crimes, also used the occasion to charge the bankers to comply with the guidelines of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on the issuance of Personal Travel Allowance, PTA and Business Travel Allowance, BTA, to their customers.
“You need to ensure full compliance with regard to knowing your customers and ensuring that you do not give opportunities for foreign exchange malpractices”.
Bawa, who disagreed with the allegation of a cat-and-mouse relationship between the Commission and financial institutions in the country, further stated that “Moving forward, come September 1, anything that we see that is happening or has happened within your industry, we are going to deal with it by the books.
“The Commission will ensure that any banker complicit in any such financial fraud will face the full wrath of the law.
“It is better to have fewer banks complying with the laws of the land than to have multiple banks not complying with the laws.”
In his remarks, Kennedy Uzorka, Group Chief Executive Officer of United Bank for Africa, UBA, described the engagement as “a very unique gathering”, adding that “the new leadership of the EFCC is seeing things from a new prism.
“We see a very positive and engaging relationship ensuing between us and the EFCC; and this has been a warm and intelligent engagement with the EFCC.”
Also speaking, Ifie Sekibo, Managing Director of Heritage Bank, assured the EFCC of continuous support in its fight against corruption and also called for a regular engagement with bankers.
Managing Director, Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu also pledged support for the EFCC war against corruption, noting that “it is a collaborative effort.”