Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde has said that tracing looted funds and assets abroad is cumbersome.
He recommended the establishment of special courts to fast track prosecution of corruption suspects.
The EFCC has replied the Senate’s on its allegation that N1.3trillion seized from convicts was diverted.
Lamorde spoke in an interview with BBC which was reproduced in the EFCC Alert magazine.
He said: “You see, whatever you do, one must be conscious that it is within the ambit of the law; so there are no shortcuts to investigating and prosecuting corruption cases. Everything must be done according to what the law provides.
“People expect magic and it doesn’t work that way. In developed countries of the world, if we look at all corruption cases, none of their investigations and prosecutions has lasted less than five years.
“I give you the example of James Ibori (a former governor of Delta State), that is serving jail term in United Kingdom. We started working with the Metropolitan Police on this case around 2005, they didn’t go to court until 2009 or 2010 and some of the processes are still in court like the confiscation process.
“Nobody keeps resources, funds or assets in their names within the jurisdiction where they commit such offences. Most times, they move out of their immediate jurisdiction. So, the processes of tracking these assets and funds that are stolen are cumbersome.
“Once it is not done within your jurisdiction, it becomes issues of cooperation with other law enforcement agencies in other countries and that takes time.
“Not only that, trying to identify these assets also takes a lot of resources and time.”
On alleged diversion of N1.3trillion by EFCC, Lamorde said the anti-graft agency has written the Senate on issues raised by a petitioner, George Uboh.
He added: “It’s true that such allegation has been made but we have written to the Senate. We have respectfully responded to the letter of invitation sent to us, explaining why we were not able to go by the date given. We think that based on what we have written to them, a new date should be given to us for us to engage them to discuss the issue concerned.
“We have engaged the services of a reputable audit firm since last year to work on all assets that have been seized and recovered by the EFCC.
“We want to have a comprehensive report that will stand the test of time. I’m not only talking about 2012 to 2015 that I am in charge of affairs, I asked them to look from the day the commission was created, that is April 2003 to date, so that we have a comprehensive report we can put in public space. Any person who has issues with that can challenge it and we will look at it.
“You see, people judge others by their standards. If they are entrusted with public funds, they will misuse it. So they just assume every other person can do the same. So, they look at you from their own perspective of what they may do or what they are doing. I think that is what is happening.:
Lamorde also said he is in support of the creation of special courts to try financial crimes suspects
He said the special courts would hasten the trial of suspects accused of corrupt practices.
I think it will be very helpful; it will improve the anti-corruption drive tremendously if dedicated courts or specialized courts are created or we designate certain courts specifically for economic and financial crimes and corruption.
I think it will also give room for specialization, making them proficient in what they do. In a situation whereby a judge listens to a case of divorce and then the next case is armed robbery, the next one is rape, then they go into corruption, then he must have lost concentration because judges are human beings, no matter how good they are.
“So, it will be very good if we can get a court designated for corruption and related cases.”