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The EFCC says over N15.5 billion was being couriered outside the country in 2012.

Between January and November this year, N15.5 billion cash packed in bags, ready to be flown out of Nigeria, were intercepted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at airports, the commission’s chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, has said.

The chairman, said this at an event organized by the Inter-Agency Task Team, comprising of Anti –Corruption Agencies,

The event was organized as part of the occasion of the 2012 International Anti-Corruption Day celebrations and was themed – ACT….Help Detect Corruption Risks Today.

Mr. Lamorde said the N15.5 billion represents physical cash taken out through the nation’s airport, and not legitimate cash transfer through the financial institutions.

He said N14 billion being couriered outside the country was intercepted at the nation’s airports between January and August while the operation of a Special Task Team which is a joint patrol of the airport by the EFCC operatives and Nigerian Customs officers which commenced in September 2012, had yielded the arrest of illegal cash courier with over $9 million dollars.

While linking the illegal transfer and corruption to greed, callousness and meanness of the people involved, Mr. Lamorde gave the example of an individual, who was arrested for laundering money in cash to the tune of $7 million in brief case and flying out of the country through the airport.

“corruption is one of the reasons Nigeria has not been able to make progress, socially, politically and economically and we have all agreed that corruption cannot be sustained in Nigeria, all of us must come together to fight corruption”, he added.

The EFCC chairman, who said the funding of the anti-corruption agencies and their operating legislation have to be reviewed, explained that between January and December 2012, the Commission had filed about 353 cases at various courts across the country and had recorded about 53 convictions so far.

“Criminal procedure rather than judiciary should be blamed for the problem of slow pace of trial of corruption cases. Somebody cannot steal from you and expect that the law should protect him against you the victim of his crime. Something has to be done. I pray that the new leadership of the judiciary will be able to do something”, he said.

He also reiterated the need for a special court to take on corruption cases in Nigeria. “Judges are either transferred or the witnesses dead. It is not fair on the anti-corruption agencies to say they are delaying cases. Let cases not last forever. If you think there is no case, please discharge the person but where the person has a case to answer, the case should be concluded in good time”, he said.

IATT Chairman, Ledum Mitee, said some possible reasons why the problem of corruption remain stagnant are: weak anti-corruption institutions in terms of capacity, funding and coordination; failure of leadership at all levels to genuinely talk the talk and walk the walk and the need for a more concerted effort in ensuring synergy in the operations of Anti-Corruption Agencies.

He said that performance in fighting corruption has been very poor.

“We cannot continue on this path. We must steer the ship aright. With the establishment of the Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT), synergy is being built amongst the anti-corruption agencies; the era of individual turf is waning giving room for possible joint investigations and prosecutions which in turn is expected to result in effective sanctions and prevention of corruption”, he said.

Mr. Mitee added that another way corruption could be collectively and systematically addressed “is by adopting a Holistic National Strategy to Combat Corruption. And I understand that the IATT has developed a draft National Strategy document. This document is most encouraging and should be given every push for adoption by the Federal Executive Council to translate into policy”.

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