The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, on Friday slammed prison and judicial officers for the controversial release of convicted ex-Governor of Adamawa State, Bala Ngilari.
Magu expressed his view on Thursday when officials of the World Bank paid the EFCC a courtesy visit in Abuja.
The EFCC had on March 6 secured a conviction against the ex-governor who was arraigned before an Adamawa State High Court on 17 charges bordering on award of contract without due process to the tune of N167.8m. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
The ex-governor, having appealed the sentence, went back to the same court that convicted him and asked for bail, pending the determination of his appeal. Some prisons officials were said to have issued a medical report to the court claiming that Ngilari was sick and would require medical attention in a Canadian hospital in the United Arab Emirates.
However, Magu described the incident as unfortunate, adding that it was frustrating the war against corruption.
According to a statement by the EFCC spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC boss informed the World Bank officials that corruption cases were dragging for too long in various courts across the country.
The statement added, “The EFCC boss expressed concern over the delay usually experienced in dispensing corruption cases and the conspiracy (in some cases) between the criminals and judicial workers/law enforcement agents to make violators of law escape justice, citing the case of a former governor of Adamawa State, Bala Ngilari, who was set free with the connivance of a prison warder and court registrar after being convicted by court.”
The EFCC boss acknowledged the great assistance the commission had been receiving from the World Bank and other development partners, saying, “The assistance has in no small measure contributed to the successes recorded by the EFCC so far.”
Expressing the passion the EFCC has for the war against corruption, Magu said, “EFCC needs training in money laundering as it is still a new concept which most judges and prosecutors still need to better understand.”
Magu also informed the delegation of the low budgetary allocation to the EFCC, expressing his desire to have the construction work on the commission’s permanent site completed this year for effective performance.
He explained that the commission was renting offices all over Abuja, which was a security risk.
Magu also requested for the upgrade of the forensic laboratory, surveillance tools and operational vehicles.
The Director, Governance Global Practice, World Bank, Dr. Ed Olowo-Okere, Director, promised that his organisation would assist the EFCC in the areas of facilities and capacity building to further strengthen the anti-graft war in Nigeria.
Acknowledging the achievements of the EFCC and the feat it had attained in the last 14 years of its establishment, Olowo-Okere recalled some of the challenges the agency had when it was first created, pledging support in any area possible to further enhance its operations.