EFCC Chairman at the Senate: Nigeria lost N2.9trn to contract, procurement fraud in 2 years

 

Newly confirmed Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ola Olukoyede, has revealed Nigeria lost N2.9 trillion between 2018 -2020 to contract procurement fraud.

Olukoyede spoke at the Senate in Abuja Wednesday during the screening exercise ahead of the confirmation of his appointment.

He sought for collective decision by all stakeholders in the nation’s fight against corruption.

“Between 2018 and 2020, Nigeria lost N2.9 trillion to contract and procurement fraud,” he said.

The money according to him would have been enough to build 1,000 kilometers of road and build close to 200 standard tertiary institutions among several infrastructure.

Olukoyede, who was confirmed alongside Muhammad Hassan Hammajoda as the EFCC secretary, said as EFCC chairman, he can investigate even the Senate President Godswill Akpabio.

Fielding questions from lawmakers during the confirmation session, Olukoyede vowed to ensure accountability, transparency and preventive measures that would eliminate too many litigations.

He stressed that under his watch, the EFCC would not hesitate to prosecute any Nigerian irrespective of their social or political status, including the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio.

While calling for collective responsibility, the EFCC boss said: “For Nigeria to earn a reputation for transparency and accountability there must be a collective decision that indeed corruption must be eliminated.

“We must build international reputation in transparency, and as an agency, I can investigate even the Senate President, because we must call a spade a spade, we must look at evil and call it evil no matter who is involved.

“We must look at more of the preventive measures than curative, corruption has become too rampant in our society and we will do our work diligently and with respect to the provisions of the constitution.”

He also pledged that his leadership at the commission would avoid duplication  of roles with the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC),  in other to save the country unnecessary deployment of funds by the two anti-graft agencies.

… Stresses preventive measures

He said the time had come for all anti-corruption agencies to focus more on prevention than enforcement, adding that enforcement is a very strong tool in the hands that must be applied seriously.

Explaining further how corruption can be eliminated, Olukoyede said the savings of an average civil servant in Nigeria all through his service years, cannot build the type of houses they are building and cars they ride. 

“The problem we have is just like the proverbial monkey that was locked up in a cage with a bunch of ripe banana. The owner stood outside with a cane. The monkey would either eat the bananas got beaten and be alive, or allow the bananas to get rotten and die of hunger.

“Everyone wants to live a luxurious life and the incentives are all over the places. I will do more in the areas of blocking the leakages. We spend more money fighting corruption when we could have spent less to prevent it without downplaying the importance of enforcement.

“There is what we call a transactional credit system. If we continue to allow Nigerians to buy houses, cars and other luxurious properties by cash, because we don’t have an effective credit system, 1,000 anti-corruption agencies will not do us any good and that is the reality. 

“We must create an atmosphere to make sure that people have choices. If I don’t steal money, can I afford to train my children in school with good standard? If I don’t steal money, can I buy a car after I have worked for five years? If I don’t steal money, can I put a three-room bungalow in place after I had worked for 20 years? An average Nigerian does not own a home, when he has the opportunity, he would steal. Even if he did not have the opportunity, he would create one.

“In order to encourage our criminal justice system to work, the substance should be taken above technicalities. We must encourage our criminal justice system to adjudicate in such a way that it will not drag for a very long time. Prosecution should not be allowed to last for a maximum of five years from the Court of first instance to the Supreme Court. 

“The Senate can work on that very seriously. If we make the administration of the criminal justice system to really work, you will see the great work the anti-corruption agencies are doing”, he said. 

Lamenting how deeply corruption had ravaged the nation, Olukoyede said: “I did a survey between 2018 and 2020 on fifty entities in Nigeria, both human and corporate entities. 

“I picked just one scheme, one specie of fraud, which is called contract and procurement fraud. I discovered that within the three years, Nigeria lost N2.9 trillion. When I put my figures together, I discovered that if the country had prevented the money from being stolen, it would have given us 1000 kilometers of road, it would have built close to 200 standard tertiary institutions. It would have also educated about 6,000 children from primary to tertiary levels at N16m per child. 

“It would have also delivered more 20,000 units of three-bedroom houses across the country. It would have given us a world-class teaching hospital in each of the 36 states of the country and the federal capital territory. 

“This is where we are coming from, this is where we are. Where we are going depends on the decision the Senate would take this afternoon.”

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