The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday announced that it has frozen over N126 billion in more than 120 bank accounts as it continues investigations into sundry alleged acts of corruption.
The anti-graft agency further defended its action, stating that the EFCC was legally empowered to issue the freeze order on the affected bank accounts.
According to The Nation, about N126,563,481,095.43 was temporarily seized by the EFCC pending the conclusion of corruption-related cases. Other cash and assets under Interim Forfeiture amount to $9,090,243,920.15, all seized from suspects facing trial or under investigation.
Some of the 120 accounts affected by different freeze orders issued by the EFCC belong to high profile corruption suspects including former minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, ex-National Security Adviser (NSA) Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd), ex-Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; ex-Chiefs of Air Staff Air Marshals Adesola Amosu and Mohammed Dikko Umar; Robert Azibaola (ex-President Jonathan’s cousin) and ex-minister of Aviation Femi Fani-Kayode, among others.
The sum of N32.8 billion traced to the accounts of six officials implicated in an alleged fraud at the Police Pension Office has also been frozen by the anti-graft agency.
Reacting to claims that the freeze was prejudicial and that the agency was being used as a tool for political vendetta, EFCC’s head of media and publicity, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement, said:
“Freezing of accounts suspected of being used for commission of financial crimes is a mandatory investigative step backed by law. Indeed, Section 34 (1) of the EFCC Act 2004 empowers the Commission to freeze any account suspected of being used for financial crimes.
“The section stipulates that “the Chairman of the Commission or any officer authorised by him may, if satisfied that the money in the account of a person is made through the commission of an offence under this Act or any enactment specified under Section 6(2) (a)-(f) of this Act, apply to the court ex-parte for power to issue or instruct a bank examiner or such other appropriate authority to freeze the account”
“Similar provision in the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2012 (as amended) also empowers the EFCC Chairman or his representatives to place a stop order on any account or transaction suspected to be involved in any crime.
The EFCC spokesman stressed that the freeze orders were issued without prejudice to the social status of the account owners and without issuing such freeze orders, the prospects of recovering stolen assets may be jeopardised.