We Stopped Investigating Babachir Lawal, Oke Because Of Presidential Panel – EFCC
In a phone interview with Seun Okinbaloye for Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday, the spokesperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, spoke about the delay in commencing a full criminal investigation of the allegations against Mr Babachir Lawal and Mr Ayodele Oke, among other things.
There are allegations that you haven’t handled the case (of the sacked Secretary to the Government of the Federation Mr Babachir Lawal and fired National Intelligence Agency Director General Mr Ayodele Oke) in a balanced manner. What can you tell us about that?
I think it’s premature for anybody to be talking about not handling the case properly. The (investigating) team was set up just yesterday (Thursday) and they are rearing to go. People should give the commission the benefit of the doubt. This investigation is just commencing, bearing in mind that what we have had in the past was an administrative panel looking at the allegations. Now, we are doing what you will call a law enforcement investigation which is the criminal investigation aspect of this whole matter. And I think those who are making insinuations are simply jumping the gun. They should give the commission the benefit of the doubt to do its work.
Do we know the ownership of the $43m cash recovered by your operatives in Lagos sometime in April this year?
The ownership is a subject of investigation and that will be made known by the time we conclude our investigation, but I can tell you that substantial work has been done in that regard. What we are simply doing now is putting finishing touches to that investigation. We, more or less, stopped the investigation because of the administrative enquiry ordered by the Presidency. But now that that is out of the way, the commission has reopened that investigation and in a few weeks’ time, Nigerians will get to know the truth and people will not be disappointed because a lot of thorough work as far as that investigation is concerned.
Tell us, do you need a crack team to investigate the former SGF? That is one man, and you have the report of the Senate…
You know that the media likes to use language. What we have is a team that will investigate the former SGF, but people in the newsroom have coined the word ‘crack’. For me, it doesn’t really make any difference whether it’s ‘crack’ or not ‘crack’. A team has been set up by the commission because we are aware of the issues surrounding that investigation. It has generated so much controversy, nationally. So, we are determined to get it right as far as the investigation is concerned and ensure that justice is done at the end of the day.
Do you have the report from the (panel headed by the) Vice President?
The investigation is just commencing, and I know that once we get on the issues, all material evidence relevant to the investigation will be available to us and we will do justice to it.
The question is who do you have the report from the Vice President?
I can’t come on television to tell you what document we have and what we don’t have but I can assure you that every material evidence will be made available to us and those ones that don’t have to come from official sources, we will on our own source those evidence to make sure that we have a complete case by the time we head to court.
Is Mr Ayo Oke, and his wife, in custody?
At the moment, they are not but we’ve extended an invitation to them and I am sure they will honour that investigation.
They’ve never appeared before the EFCC?
In the past, I think the wife was questioned when they started the investigation, but formal invitation has been extended to them following the government’s pronouncement regarding the status of the husband, the former DG of NIA, Mr Oke. Both the wife and husband have been formally invited because we need to ask them additional questions based on things that have unravelled since the last time the commission put a stop to the investigation.
On Mr (Abdulrasheed) Maina, do you know his whereabouts?
We are on his trail; we are not relenting. We have opened up channels of communication and we have linked up with several law enforcement agencies, both internally and outside the country, to ensure that we get. Wherever he is, he knows that he is a wanted man. I will also use this opportunity to appeal to Nigerians; anywhere, anybody that sees him has a responsibility as a citizen of this country to alert law enforcement. You can report to the nearest police station or any EFCC office that is closest to you. Maina is wanted and we are not relenting in our efforts to get him.