Ola Olukoyede, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has urged the implementation of legislation against unexplained wealth to tackle criminal activities related to treasury looting in Nigeria. Speaking at the “Unexplained Wealth in the Global South: Examining the Asset Recovery and Return Trajectory” conference organized by Christopher University in Ogun State, Olukoyede emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach to combating financial crimes.
While acknowledging that several countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Mauritius, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Trinidad and Tobago, have embraced Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWO) since 2018, Olukoyede highlighted the absence of national legislation on this matter in Nigeria. The EFCC currently relies on Section 7 of its Establishment Act to address the issue.
Olukoyede, represented by the Abuja Zonal Commander, ACE1 Adebayo Adeniyi, stressed the global impact of unexplained wealth and how tackling it seriously would leave treasury looters with little cover worldwide. He pointed out that Nigeria, facing challenges of asset tracing, investigation, and recovery, needs legislation to strengthen its stance on unexplained wealth.
The EFCC Chairman outlined the agency’s commitment to non-conviction-based asset forfeiture and the recovery of ill-gotten wealth. He urged the public to provide information about suspicious assets, highlighting the importance of intelligence in the commission’s efforts.
Discussing the realities of asset recovery in countries of the global south, Olukoyede noted challenges related to ethnic and religious biases, hindering full disclosure of information. He emphasized the role of intelligence in anti-corruption agencies’ operations, given the cultural complexities in third-world countries.
Touching on hurdles in asset recovery within Nigeria, Olukoyede highlighted the technicalities of prosecuting looted assets and the time-consuming processes involved. He acknowledged the complexities of recovering stolen funds in foreign jurisdictions, involving institutions of the state and demanding considerable time and effort.
In conclusion, Olukoyede highlighted instances of such challenges in Nigeria’s efforts to recover looted funds by various government officials, acknowledging the frustrating nature of the return trajectory in such cases.