.Role of financial institutions in crime worrisome.Agency to battle Cyber Criminals.

Bankers have come under the searchlight of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the anti-graft agency’s new focus on infractions.

More attention will also be devoted to cyber crime “which has become a big problem to this country”, EFCC Chairman AbdulRasheed Bawa said.

Bawa spoke yesterday at the State House after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on his action plan.

Bawa, who was cleared by the Senate to commence work last month, said focus on bankers is part of the Commission’s renewed poise to clampdown on financial crimes in all sectors of the economy.

He said: “We understood that the tail end of every financial crime is for the criminal to have access to the funds that he or she has illegitimately gotten.

“We’re worried about the roles of financial institutions. We have discussed, but we hope that all (staff of) financial institutions, particularly the bankers, will declare their assets as provided for by the law, in accordance with the Bank Employees Declaration of Asset Act.

“The EFCC, come the 1st of June 2021, will be demanding this asset declaration forms, filled by the bankers so that the line that we have drawn from the first of June is really complied with by all bankers.”

Bawa said this move will enhance financial sanity and make it easy to track illegally acquired funds.

He said, the EFCC under his watch had reviewed its mandate and that President Buhari had shown satisfaction with the agency’s proposal.

“We reviewed a lot of things that we want to do towards eradication of financial crimes. As you are aware, I was here about two weeks ago before taking over.

“He (Buhari) is happy with what he has heard so far with the reforms we are working on with the new EFCC going forward, in terms of the way we investigate, prosecute and the way we are generally executing our mandate.

“My assurance to Nigerians, going forward, is that we are going to do our best to ensure that this country is free of financial crimes.”

Expressing worries over the escalation of cybercrime, especially among young Nigerians, Bawa appealed to those currently engaging in it to desist, noting that it is giving Nigeria the wrong image.

Bawa said around 300 suspected cyber criminals were arrested in the last one month in different parts of the country.

“As a young man, I am appealing to all young Nigerians to desist from these cybercrime activities. It is giving bad name to our country, it is also chasing away a lot of foreign investments that we need and I call on all parents, guardians, and, of course, elders in the community, in the society, to be able to talk to these young people to desist from these crimes.

“These are crimes that they commit online. And of course, there is nothing like patting your back to say go and sin no more. Our laws do not provide for that. It is a crime and as we say in the EFCC, we will get you anywhere, anytime.”

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