Friday, December 1, 2023

Matawalle, Other Fraud Suspects’ Can’t Escape, We Are Working With Int’l Bodies : EFCC

Nigeria’s anti-graft body, EFCC says it is focused on making sure politicians under financial fraud investigation such as Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara do not escape prosecution by fleeing abroad.

To make sure this is ensured, EFCC said it was already collaborating with international partners.

“The Commission wishes to alert the public about plans by some of the alleged corrupt politically exposed persons to flee the country ahead of May 29,” a statement by EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwajaren on Friday night read.

“The Commission is working in close collaboration with its international partners to frustrate these escape plans and bring those involved to justice.”

The release came in response to an allegation by Mr Matawalle against EFCC chairman Abdulrasheed Bawa.

In an interview with BBC Hausa on Friday, the outgoing Zamfara governor, who has been under EFCC scrutiny for a 70 billion fraud, alleged that Mr Bawa has been tailing him to provide a $2 million bribe for the investigation to be dropped.

The EFCC, however, described Mr Matawalle’s allegations as a “hoax,” saying that the commission would not engage in verbal sparring with a criminal suspect.

For months, there have been brickbats between the Anti-corruption body and the Matawalle-led government in Zamfara.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Matawalle accused EFCC of corruption and bias in a move which is seen to preempt his possible prosecution upon leaving office in 10 days. The governor enjoys immunity from prosecution until May 29, per the Nigerian Constitution.

Mr Matawalle further challenged the anti-graft agency to probe people working with President Muhammadu Buhari, including federal cabinet ministers.

But the EFCC insists Mr Matawalle was just afraid of his shadows and dared him to petition appropriate authorities if he had any evidence against Mr Bawa.

“Matawalle’s recourse to mudslinging is symptomatic of a drowning man clutching at straws. But despite the irritation of his phantom claims, the Commission will not be drawn into a mud fight with a suspect under its investigation for corruption and unconscionable pillage of the resources of his state.

“If Matawalle will be taken seriously, he should go beyond sabre-rattling by spilling the beans – provide concrete evidence as proof of his allegations,” the EFCC said.

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