There is a strong indication that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will, in the coming weeks, send its operatives to the nation’s borders as part of its plan to prevent suspects under its surveillance from leaving the country.
The PUNCH learnt that the commission had initiated an offensive against former government officials involved in the embezzlement of public funds, as well as shady businessmen who financed political parties during the presidential and National Assembly elections.
Our correspondent gathered in Abuja on Friday that many individuals suspected of funding the campaigns of opposition parties might be arrested and prosecuted under the new plan meant to recharge the flagging anti-graft war of the current administration.
Investigation showed that the arrest of Abdullahi Babalele, who is the finance director of a group of companies belonging to the Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate in the presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, was part of the offensive against individuals believed to be corrupt or linked to corrupt ex-officials.
A team of EFCC agents numbering about 24 had on Saturday stormed Babalele’s residence and office in the Maitama area of Abuja and taken away documents of landed properties belonging to him.
It was learnt that the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari had given the commission the motivation to go after those earlier perceived as ‘untouchables’ in the country.
A source said, “Many high profile Nigerians, who have been under the surveillance of the commission, will be made to feel the heat in the coming months as it revs up the tempo of its anti-graft campaign.
“The raid carried out in Babalele’s apartment and office is just a tip of our plan. Soon bigger fishes will be caught in our net as we move against dirty money and corrupt former officials and their allies in the public and private sectors.”
Our correspondent gathered that the commission will strip any suspect, who fails to justify the source of his money, properties or investments, of his wealth through the courts.
Sources said that top ranking members of the PDP, who were blocked from bringing in money for the presidential and National Assembly elections from foreign countries, might be the first casualties in the renewed anti-corruption crusade.
The EFCC, it was further gathered, had made a long term plan for the offensive by signing memoranda of understanding with Niger Republic, Ghana and other West African countries where embattled politicians and their associates were believed to have kept their funds.
The PUNCH was informed that the commission had requested the identities of Nigerians whose properties and large sums of money were hidden in those countries, with a warning that they would be confiscated through the courts if their owners failed to provide satisfactory answers about the sources of their wealth.