President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday, Monday said that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) "must work in collaboration" with the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation Mohammed Bello Adoke to enforce anti-corruption laws and recover looted funds abandoned in foreign accounts.
President Jonathan, who was represented by Vice President Mohammed N. Sambo, said this yesterday at the opening ceremony of the 8th National Seminar on Economics and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja.
Better secrets gathered that President Jonathan also admitted that Nigeria still had huge stolen assets abroad yet to be noticed.
He reiterated that his government would not protect any person from being investigated for allegations of corruption by the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies.
The Human Rights Watch in a 64-page report chronicling the performance of EFCC since 2002 published recently said it had performed poorly due to executive interference and a political establishment that continues to reward corruption.
"We will give all the necessary support and encouragement to all the anti-corruption agencies to vigorously enforce the enabling anti-corruption laws. I urge these agencies to do their work fairly but firmly within the ambit of the law without regard to position or status. There shall be no sacred cows. This government will not protect any so-called sacred cows. The wheel of justice must run its full course in tackling anti-corruption cases.
"The private sector equally has a big role to play. There can be no successful corruption in the public sector without connivance and collaboration with the private sector consistent with current International Best Practices.
In a keynote address, the Liberian President, Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, took an historical excursion into the travails of her country, lamenting the nation's huge losses to graft and poor governance, in spite of the enormous natural resources available in the country.
Sirleaf said that through "structural and systemic reforms", she has succeeded in stirring Liberia out of "systemic and suicidal corruption level." She gave the credit to the independence of the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission, fashioned after the EFCC and with unfettered freedom to carry out its job.
In her welcome address, Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, described national economic and security challenges as man-made and largely traceable to corruption where a few individuals are bleeding the wealth of the nation and causing great pain to the larger society. Waziri said the corruption of a few has caused and is causing crushing and debilitating poverty and unemployment. "This poverty has led to despair and anger which in many cases has ignited violent unrests with attendant unpleasant consequences including loss of innocent lives and property".
In his remark, Adoke, revealed that his office has taken seriously the issue of stolen assets recovery.
According to him, "this is borne out of the desire to ensure that corrupt persons are not only punished but are prevented from enjoying the proceeds of their crimes. In this regard, we have continued to assist relevant agencies to recover and repatriate stolen assets to Nigeria. Only recently, we negotiated the recovery and repatriation of the sum of 22.5 million pounds sterling from the Island of Jersey being the proceeds of money laundered from Nigeria," he said.