The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, on Monday said the anti-graft agency’s directive to bankers to declare their assets is not meant to witch hunt them.
Bawa said going by rots in the financial institutions, the EFCC and stakeholders need to sanitise the industry as “Nigeria cannot afford to go through another serious crisis in the banking sector.”
He disclosed this at opening session of a capacity building workshop organised by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) for the law enforcement agencies in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital.
The workshop was themed “Effective Investigation and Prosecution of Banking Malpractices in Nigeria”.
The EFCC chairman said the directive which was aimed at clearing “the rots that permeate the nation’s banking sector” was misconstrued by some people he tagged “ignorant”.
Bawa, who spoke through the Head of Lagos Zonal Office of EFCC, Ahmed Ghali, vowed that despite the stiff opposition of the policy, the anti-graft agency would not relent in its efforts in sanitising 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.
Bawa 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.”