By G9ija

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday said it secured 646 convictions and recovered N11 billion in 10 months, despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic caused in its operations.

The commission also said the Federal Government’s Whistle-blowing Policy was being fine-tuned by the Ministry of Finance to make it achieve better results.

EFCC Acting Chairman Mohammed Umar Abba stated these at the commencement of the Ninth Senate Legislative Anti-Corruption Strategy Implementation Session at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja.

But the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Suleiman Kwari, asked the EFCC to stop engaging in “media hype” in its duty.

A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of the anti-graft commission, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, quoted Abba as saying the EFCC had “earned the confidence and trust of Nigerians because of its unblemished professional disposition”.

Abba said: “The EFCC is doing remarkably well above all other law enforcement agencies in the country. That is why the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in the 2017 survey they conducted, ranked EFCC as the most effective government agency in Nigeria.

“The commission has recorded 646 convictions and recovered over N11 billion in monetary assets this year, despite the restriction imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reacting to the senators’ enquiry on the state of seized vehicles by the commission, Abba said: “We are working on this challenge. I am sure the Attorney General of the Federation is coming out with a gazette so that this issue will be a thing of the past, not only on vehicles but also on landed properties.”

Regarding the waning impact of the Whistle-blowing Policy of the Federal Government, the EFCC boss admitted that the policy was being abused.

He blamed the situation on what he called mischief and misinformation by members of the public who turned it to a tool for settling personal scores.

Abba added: “It is true that the Whistle-blowing Policy has gone down, unlike what it was at the beginning of the policy, where we received several reports from whistle-blowers. People started being mischievous with the policy.

“So, we have to tread carefully as people turned it into a personal vendetta tool against individuals. The policy is being fine-tuned by the Ministry of Finance to make it more efficient.”

The EFCC boss listed some of the commission’s challenges, saying they include lack of adequate personnel and office accommodation (especially in the commission’s zonal offices), lack of internet facility as well as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment, among others.

Kwari advised that “ninety per cent of investigation should be done before arrest is effected”.

He added: “Media hype must stop. If you want to be effective, forget the media; do the work and let your work speak for you.”