- The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently has been freezing accounts of investigated suspects
- The commission has disclosed the real reason why they freeze the accounts
- The commission disclosed the reason for their actions in order to prevent misinformation
In recent times, a lot of interest has been generated by the action of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in freezing the accounts of suspects that were investigated or are currently being investigated. Some commentators have tended to ascribe vindictive motives to this action.
In a statement signed by Wilson Uwujaren, the head of media and publicity for the the commission, the statement read that in order to prevent misinformation, it is imperative to explain the reason behind their actions in this regard.
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The statement read in parts: "Freezing of accounts suspected of being used for commission of financial crimes is a mandatory investigative step backed by law.
"Indeed, Section 34 (1) of the EFCC Act 2004 empowers the Commission to free any account suspected of being used for financial crimes. The section stipulates that, “the Chairman of the Commission or any officer authorized by him may, if satisfied that the money in the account of a person is made through the commission of an offence under this Act or any enactment specified under Section 6(2) (a)-(f) of this Act, apply to the Court ex-parte for power to issue or instruct a bank examiner or such other appropriate authority to freeze the account.”
"Similar provision in the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2012 (as amended), also empowers the EFCC Chairman or his representatives to place a stop order on any account or transaction suspected to be involved in any crime.
"The intendment of these provisions is to ensure that the Commission safeguards suspected proceeds of crime pending the completion of its investigation. It is without prejudice to the social standing of the holder of such accounts or whether they are individual, corporate or government accounts.
"Freezing orders are incidental to investigation and doing otherwise will jeopardize the prospects of recovering stolen assets."
Recently, the commission reportedly froze the account of Chief Martin Elechi, the former governor of Ebonyi State over a petition concerning alleged funding of the campaign of the governorship candidate of the Labour Party in the state when he was the deputy governor.
Also, the commission also froze the bank accounts of some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) among others.
The accounts frozen belong to some ex-governors, former ministers and PDP leaders who were said to have gained from the N23 billion campaign funds distributed to states to enhance the electoral fortunes of the party.