The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) plans to spend N42,303,506 on payment of rent in the 2020 fiscal year.
The estimated N42.303 million for rent forms part of the commission’s N30,921,658,070 budget proposal as contained in the N10.33 trillion 2020 budget presented to the joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on October 8.
Despite several seizures and forfeitures of properties, including building, by EFCC from politically-exposed persons and others who acquired properties through illegal means in its course of fight against corruption in the country, many government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are also operating from rent property.
The EFCC Act, 2004 confers the right to manage properties and assets seized on EFCC.
Sections 24, 28 of the Act specifically put the forfeiture of property and assets suspected to connect to fraud or connected thereto on the doorstep of the anti-graft agency.
According to Section 30 (1) of the Act, a final order of forfeiture in which the asset and property of person convicted under the Act shall be forwarded to the Commission and Section 30 (2) states that upon receipt of final order pursuant to this section, the secretary to the commission shall take steps to dispose of the property concerned by sale or otherwise and where the property is sold, the proceeds then, shall be paid into the Consolidation Revenue fund of the Federation.
Under the leadership of Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, Nigerian Tribune gathered that about 407 mansions were seized, out of which 126 have been finally forfeited, while 281 are under interim forfeiture.
Nine filling stations were seized and placed under interim forfeiture. Parcels of land seized sums up to 98, out of which 56 are under interim forfeiture, while 42 have been forfeited finally to the Federal Government.
Among the forfeited property were those belonging to the late Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; Air Marshal Adesola Amosun (retd); Air Vice Marshal Jacob Adigun (retd); former Petroleum Resources Minister, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, her associates, Jide Omokore, Kola Aluko, among others.
Before the assumption of office of Magu, the commission also seized properties, of various forms, from fraudulent Nigerians.
Many of these properties are now rotting away without being put to any meaningful use despite huge amount of money being spent on rented facilities by the MDAs.
Despite all these, the Presidency and the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparent Initiative (NEITI) estimated the sum of N526 million for payment of rent next year as contained in the 2020 budget proposal.
This prompted Nigerians to wonder what becomes of the various properties seized by EFCC, which they noted ought to have been put to either revenue generating use or released to government agencies to serve as offices.
Observers noted that the Federal Government ought not to spend huge sums of money on rented properties when there are such properties in possession of EFCC.
Such properties, according to them, could easily be given out to MDAs for official use with a view to saving cost of rent for government.
However, multiple sources in EFCC informed Sunday Tribune that there was little EFCC could do about forfeited properties, adding that some of them were only on temporary forfeiture as they might be returned to their owners if the court so decided.
One of the sources stated that while the commission was doing everything possible to reclaim illegally-acquired properties belonging to the common wealth of Nigerians, it was not in the best position to determine how such properties were put to use. (Nigerian Tribune)