Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday disclosed that over N2bn and 33 choice properties have been recovered from three Air Force officers involved in the $2.1bn arms procurement scam.
The commission also revealed that only one of the properties is valued at over N1.8bn.
EFCC’s Deputy Director, Operation, Iliyasu Kwarbai, disclosed this while taking journalists on an inspection tour of the commission’s detention facilities in Lagos.
The tour was organised by EFCC to debunk reports in a section of the media that the commission tortures those in its custody.
Kwarbai, who spoke on behalf of the Acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, said the commission has recovered billions of naira from those involved in the arms procurement fraud.
He stated that it would have been extremely difficult to bring those involved to justice, saying “if we did not recover the money, we would have been in serious trouble, because they will use the stolen money to fight the system.
“For instance, if they have stolen N10bn, they will set aside N3bn for litigation and engage senior lawyers to defend them in court.”
On the allegation of torture, Kwarbai said EFCC had no reason to use force or torture to extract information from those in its custody over financial fraud as speculated.
Indeed, he said the tour had become necessary to correct public negative perception of the commission and its operations, especially with regard to how those in its custody were being treated.
According to him, the commission secured over 140 convictions across the country between January and August 2016.
He insisted that the commission did not torture suspects in its detention centres to extract confessions.
He explained that suspects who were ill were immediately taken to the commission’s clinic or referred to a hospital.
According to him, medical bills incurred by suspects were also borne by the commission.
He said EFCC fed the suspects three times daily, adding that the commission maintained an open-door policy which has made its activities verifiable.
Kwarbai said: “Before we put them in detention, we serve them with bail conditions which they will sign. They are immediately admitted to bail pending when they produce reasonable sureties, so that if they are released, we ensure that they come back.
“So, we don’t beat any person here. We don’t extract confessional statements. We investigate financial crimes, not robbery or murder where suspects leave the scene and make up an alibi.
“We don’t need your confessional statements to gather facts and figures. We go to the banks and get our facts. There is no need for us to introduce any harsh method of interrogation at all. We don’t do it.”
According to him, some suspects used to life of luxury “fall sick” once they are taken to the detention centre.
He said, however, that a vehicle is stationed at the centre to take such sick accused persons to the clinic, which the EFCC staff also use.
The EFCC chief said the commission was open to plea bargaining, as it saves the government time that would have been wasted on prosecution and enables the suspect to get a lighter sentence after returning all he stole.
Kwarbai said despite the resistance of some accused persons, EFCC operatives have been professional in their approach.
Among the facilities visited were EFCC’s detention centres on 7, Okotie-Eboh Street, Ikoyi, clinic, with two consulting rooms, two doctors, nurses and a dispensary; interview rooms and computerised offices.
Each room in the detention facility, with male and female sections, has a mattress, a shower and a toilet; only two suspects are assigned to a room.
There is also a church, named “House of Reconciliation with God”, and a mosque. The clinic has two consulting rooms with two doctors, nurses and a dispensary.