Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chair Farida Waziri threatened to arrest debtors given questionable loans from five major banks in the oil-producing West African state. The government sacked five bank CEOs on August 14, 2009., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
EFCC won’t drop Halliburton probe, says Waziri
Tuesday, 16 August 2011 00:00
From Abosede Musari
CHAIRMAN of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs. Farida Waziri, has assured that the agency would investigate the Halliburton scandal to a logical conclusion.
She also gave assurance of on-going investigation into the petition against the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Equilisation Fund (PEF), Adefunke Kasali, stating that the public would be duly informed when investigations are completed.
Waziri, who spoke in Abuja yesterday, declined to give further details on the issues due to public perception that the agency gives media trials of issues. Though she said fighting corruption in Nigeria is like holding the tiger by the tail, she stated her resolve not to be deterred by the challenges no matter how daunting.
Waziri spoke in an interview after a scheduled meeting with the management of the Federal Mortgage Bank Nigeria (FMBN) failed to hold due to unforeseen circumstances on the part of the latter.
“You know we have been accused of fighting corruption in the media and the case is under investigation. We are investigating that and we will let you know when we come to the end of our investigation. I don’t want to jump the gun,” she said.
On the issue of Halliburton, Waziri said the EFCC is taking it up together with the Office of the Attorney-General, and the public would be informed when investigations are concluded.
Other issues that Waziri touched on included that of plea-bargaining with people suspected to have embezzled state funds. She noted that in as much as she is not keen about plea-bargaining, it is better for the country to get back some of the money than to lose all and have the cases drag for years in the courts while the suspects walk the streets freely.
According to her, “the whole funds would be lost this way. Plea-bargain is not the best of laws, it is not the best for us, but it is likened to what people will say half bread is better than nothing. If a man loots N10 billion and you take him to court and he gets the best of lawyers, and the cases are moved forward, four years, five years, what do we do?
“The monies are gone and we may end up getting nothing; or the best thing is to go into plea-bargain if they desire and get something back and let him be convicted. Even if it is conviction for one day, he is an ex-convict. I am not crazy about plea-bargaining because when I came to the EFCC, I said let the cases go for full trial and let the person be convicted.
“If someone is convicted even for a day, he will be an ex-convict all his life but when the case drags on for years and the suspect walks free on the streets, it has a negative effect because others may think it pays to be corrupt and the ill will continue.”
She used the occasion of the briefing to state that those wishing the Presidency to sack her from her duty post were wasting their time, as she would only quit when her time is up.
She described those who wanted her out of office as “narrow-minded people whom we know to be corrupt, that we are fighting. And they have the resources, stolen wealth that they use negatively instead of using it to impact on their subjects in this country. They use it negatively to buy pages of the newspapers to mudsling and all manner of things.
“If I have my way, they will be right now in Bama Prison, Kirikiri Prison, but they are there, using their wealth to cause mischief all over the place. I am not surprised with any of those things and I am never disturbed. I just feel strengthened when I read these junk things that they cook up,” Waziri said.