The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, on Monday explained that, the directive to bankers to declare their assets was meant to save Nigeria from another serious crisis in the banking sector.
Bawa stated this during the opening session of a workshop organised by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) for law enforcement agencies in Abeokuta.
The theme of the workshop was: “Effective Investigation and Prosecution of Banking Malpractices in Nigeria”.
The EFCC chairman opined that the directive was aimed at clearing the rots that permeate the nation’s banking sector.
He noted that the message was misconstrued by some people he tagged “ignorants”.
Bawa who spoke through the Lagos zonal commandant of the commission, Ahmed Muhammad Ghali, vowed that, despite the stiff opposition of the policy, the anti-graft agency would not relent in its efforts to sanitise the country’s financial institutions.
He argued that, the policy became imperative to salvage the banking sector from corruption, insisting that Nigeria cannot afford to go through another serious crisis in the banking sector.
The EFCC chairman lamented what he called “a slew of corrupt practices” in the banking sector”, disclosing that, the commission had prosecuted and secured numerous convictions against bankers, including those who had retired from practice.
He called on bankers, financial institutions and other security agencies to partner with the commission in ridding the country of corruption and other financial crimes.
Bawa said, “I recall that upon assumption of office, one of the major pronouncements I made was giving a directive to bankers to declare their assets before June 1, 2021.
“I had given the directive genuinely out of sincerity of purpose, knowing the rots that permeate the nation’s banking sector.
“In other words, the directive was born out of efforts to sanitise the banking sector. But it was received with mixed feelings.
“It is obvious that those who kicked (or are still kicking against the directive are ignorant of the unmistakable details of the Bank Employees Declaration of Assets Act.
“Unlike the claims in some quarters, it is not a witch-hunt; rather, it is part of measures to sanitise the country’s financial institutions. “We are aware of the different shades of fraudulent activities going on in our financial institutions, particularly in the banking industry sector.
“In dealing with this situation, the EFCC, under my watch, has intensified its engagement with bank executives, more than ever before.
“The nation cannot afford to go through another serious crisis in the banking sector; and this explains the constant intervention by the EFCC.”
In his opening remarks, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NDIC, Mr. Bello Hassan said the workshop would give the corporation the opportunity of sharing information and ideas with law enforcement agencies on the developments withing the banking sector.
Hassan disclosed that the corporation had commenced the payment of compensations of insured amounts to the customers of 42 banks whose licences were withdrawn by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last year.
He added that, the corporation had taken various measures to ensure that banks remain safe and sound despite the economic challenges occasioned by the outbreak the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m happy to report that despite the effect of the pandemic, looking at the various financial indicators, the banking system is safe, sound and resilient.
“For us as supervisor, what we advise the banks is to strengthen their internal control and also make sure that they do proper background checks when they are employing staff so as to ensure that they employ people that are fit and proper to work within the banking system”, Hassan said.