EFCC reopens subsidy fraud cases

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There are indications that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is revisiting investigations into the fuel subsidy fraud cases which it abandoned since 2012.

It was learnt by our correspondent on Sunday that the EFCC authorities decided to step up the investigation at the twilight of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration whose disposition towards the subsidy fraud and other corruption cases, sources said, did not encourage the prosecution of the suspects.

Our correspondent gathered that in the last two weeks, the EFCC had been inviting some of the fuel subsidy suspects, who were indicted in the 2012 Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede-led Presidential Committee on Verification and Reconciliation of subsidy claims.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who did not want to be named, said one of the suspects, whose friend was also indicted in the Aig-Imoukhuede-led committee’s report, had already briefed him last week in anticipation that he would be invited soon by the EFCC.

According to the lawyer, the client’s friend has already been invited by the EFCC, adding that it is only a matter of time before he (the client) will also be invited by the anti-graft agency.

“The client told me last week that his friend had been invited. So, he has run to me in anticipation that he would also be invited any moment from now,” the lawyer said.

An in-house counsel with the EFCC, who also pleaded not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the issue, also confirmed the development.

He said the EFCC never stopped investigation into the subsidy fraud, but had only been handicapped by the Presidency’s disposition towards the cases.

The source said, “It is true that some of the suspects are now being invited. But we never stopped investigations. Our hands had only been tied because of the President’s disposition. We have to get approval from him before we can investigate or prosecute the suspects.

“But the approval was not forthcoming. We are hoping that things will start changing when the new government is inaugurated and that is why we are stepping up our investigations.”

Between July and August 2012, based on its independent investigation, the EFCC arraigned some oil marketers and their firms with the assurance that others would be charged to court thereafter.

Our correspondent learnt that there had been no other major arraignment of suspects apart from the 12 firms out of about 124 that were investigated by the EFCC and charged to court since 2011.

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