From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has disclosed that the commission is working in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to restrict vote buying and other corrupt tendencies during the election.
He stated this while appearing at the 62nd Ministerial Media Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday.
He said: “We are doing quite a lot on this; we are working with INEC and a lot of people but ultimately we want to work with Nigerians. They should know the implications of selling their votes or accepting that their votes should be bought by these individuals.
“We hope and pray that our modest effort will be able to curtail this issue of vote buying when it comes to the elections in February and March,” he said.
The EFCC Chairman also stated that some top politicians are on the watch list of the anti-graft agency.
“Certainly we are watching a lot of them and a lot of Nigerians have also provided us with information here and there and we are watching, you can also help us with any piece of information you have,” he appealed.
Bawa also confirmed that the Anti-Graft agency is critically looking at every petition directed against top Nigerian politicians.
According to him, the Petitions Vetting Desk/Committee of EFCC, made up of experienced officers from the Legal Department as well as those trained to investigate such petitions are currently reviewing these petitions to see whether they have merits that will warrant prosecution.
He added that the commission working on every petition directed to it to establish the veracity of such petition, assuring that the commission is out to work for the interest of Nigerians and is determined to carry out its duties without fear or favour.
Asked if EFCC has received any petition against any of the 18 presidential candidates angling to succeed President Buhari, Bawa said:
“On the question if we received petitions against top politicians contesting for office. My question is at this hour do you want to start inviting all the presidential candidates to come and make statements? The same media will say it’s politically motivated.
“So we are not, we are working behind the scene in all the petitions we received to see those that have merits, so that’s why we are not politicising it.
“And that’s why we have what we call Petitions Vetting Desk/Committee made up of experienced officers from the Legal Department as well as those trained to investigate that will review these petitions to see whether they are in line with our own mandate before they will recommend whether they will be prosecuted by the EFCC.
“We have benchmark for it that we can follow, that guides us, you know, in terms of accepting or rejecting petitions, you know, as we also have a criteria which have even been publicised to guide petitioners on the requirements to make a petition to have merit.
“Hope this question is not politically motivated?”.
During the briefing, the EFCC Chairman provided updates and strides being made by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration in the core area of anti-corruption, as well as the innovations that have been introduced by the Commission to curb financial crimes and money laundering in Nigeria.