From Msurshima Andrew, Makurdi
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), has trained over 35 journalists from Benue state, on “Effective Reporting of Economic and Financial Crimes.”
The event which was organized by the Makurdi Zonal Command, on Thursday, 28th September, 2023, had participants drawn from various media houses operating in the state.
Welcoming participants to the event, the Acting Executive Chairman, of EFCC, Abdulkarim Chukkol, said the training is designed to upgrade their skills to enable them discharge their duties as financial crime reporters more efficiently.
He said the decision to engage journalists in a training session is buoyed by the appreciation of the fact that they occupy a strategic place in the fight against corruption, being the vehicle through which the EFCC reaches the Nigerian public with information about its operations.
“You also play crucial roles in helping to mobilize the people to embrace the fight against corruption. This makes the media one of the most critical allies of the EFCC.”
The Acting Chairman urge the media to continue to align itself with the progressive aspirations of Nigerians, to see that corruption is reduced to the barest minimum, if not completely eliminated.
“I would like the media to educate family members and friends of politicians and others holding political offices that they run the risk of going to jail if they allow their companies or bank accounts to be used to launder proceeds of illegal activities.
“Under the Money Laundering Act, 2022 family members and close allies of politicians and public office holders, including top civil servants, are now classified as Politically Exposed Persons.
“The EFCC is determined to ensure that anyone who steals from the public treasury and all those who assist them to do so under whatever guise, are brought to justice and ignorance of the law will not be an excuse,” he added.
He further lamented the involvement of youths in cybercrime within the zone in spite of the enforcement and enlightenment efforts of the Commission is worrisome.
Chukkol appealed to the media to lend a hand in helping to sensitize the youth against internet-related fraud activities.
He stated that “The youth must be reminded that they can productively use the resources available in cyberspace for legitimate pursuits without embracing criminality.”
Meanwhile, presenting his paper titled Challenges of Prosecuting Economic and Financial Crimes in Nigeria by Legal Department, Mr Ramiah Ikhanaede, said the commission secured 3,785 convictions in 2022 while the Makurdi Zonal command has recorded 107 convictions between 2019 and 2023.
He said for effective performance of the Commission, more courts , training of more judges, continued public enlightenment among others were needed to nip financial crimes in the bud and fasten the process of prosecution.
Speaking on “Trends, Peculiarities and Challenges of Cybercrimes Enforcement in Nigeria,” Stephanie Philip, the head of Advanced Fee Fraud at the commission noted that Benue has rampant cases of ATM Card swap, Account take over, robbery of customers at ATM points, among others.
She said the EFCC has done tremendously well in fighting these crimes in the state through education, public enlightenment, media presentation among others.