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Religious body protects terrorists’ money launderer – EFCC

A religious body (name withheld) has been alleged to be protecting a money launderer after some money suspected to have been laundered was traced to an organisation under probe’s bank account.

 

Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ola Olukoyede, disclosed at a one-day sensitization event in Abuja on the theme: “Youth, Religion and the Fight Against Corruption” held at the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja.

Olukoyede revealed that the powerful religious sect in the country secured a court order to stop its men from probing the N7 billion linked to some terrorists.

The commission said it was investigating a N13 billion fraud when it discovered that N7 billion of the cash was linked to a religious body’s account.

Although Olukoyede did not name the sect and the terrorist group involved in the cases, he nevertheless said that religious organisations, institutions, sects, and bodies had been engaging in money laundering.

“A religious sect in this country was laundering money for terrorists, we were able to trace some laundered money to a religious organisation, and when we approached the religious organisation about it as we were carrying out our investigation, we got a restraining order stopping us from carrying out our investigation,” Olukoyede said without naming those involved and when the crime took place.

The EFCC boss lamented that despite efforts of the commission to stamp out corruption, the spate of financial crimes and graft is rising across the land, thereby triggering the need for a change of strategy and approach.

His words: “With all modesty, we have been effective in deploying our enforcement powers in tackling various forms of financial crimes, including grand corruption and cybercrimes.

“Our conviction profile and record of asset recovery is unmatched by any other agency but rather than abate, these crimes appear to have festered, suggesting that a change of approach might be imperative.

“This realization commends a re-consideration of the Commission’s anti-graft strategy with a new focus on prevention in line with the popular dictum that prevention is better than cure. It is also in tandem with the recommendations of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, UNCAC,” he said.

The chairman pointed out that in a bid to stamp out financial crimes, new approaches had to be adopted and applied.

He said: “To ensure that this intervention is not lost in a polemic maze, we have prioritized two focal areas of concern to the Commission: the involvement of youth in cybercrimes and the susceptibility of our Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, to grand corruption.

“The allure of Computer-related fraud for our youth especially those in tertiary institutions is deeply concerning. So too, is what appears like a push back against the enforcement actions of the Commission by the youth themselves and managers of some of our institutions.

“The danger of having a tribe of future leaders whose outlook in life is that fraud and corruption are the stairways to fame and fortune is, however, too dire to treat with kid gloves.

“In the same vein, extreme vulnerability of our Ministries, Departments and Agencies to corruption, has led to resource haemorrhage and attendant negative impact on the nation’s development. Both trends easily provoke a lot of questions,” he lamented.

The EFCC boss appealed to religious and faith leaders to tailor their messages to reduce corruption and promote contentment among their members so as to reduce the level of corruption in the land.

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