Mr Femi Falana SAN as taken a swipe on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for sealing up assets belonging to suspects of financial crimes.
Falana was speaking to on a programme that was tagged ‘Compendium of High-Profile Corruption and Financial Crimes Cases in Nigeria.’ The programme was organised by a Civil Society Organisation, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA).
Falana said the implication of sealing up of properties of a suspect while their cases were still pending in courts is that there is no economic value the country will gain instead, the economy will continue to suffer as houses are being sealed.
Falana also advises the EFCC to make use of the assets pending when the court will determine whether it will be forfeited or returned back to the owners.
He said: “I do not subscribe to the locking up of assets or properties while a case is still pending in court. I do not think the EFCC or other anti-corruption agencies should be doing that.
“If somebody has stolen money to build a hospital, just like the one on Adeniyi Jones in Ikeja, somebody was alleged to have stolen to build the hospital worth about N2.5billion, which is sealed now.
“For me, you are not doing the public any good by just locking up the place and by putting your inscription: ‘Under Investigation’.
“Why don’t you allow it to function so that the place can benefit the people, because it is already acquired for public purpose.
“And this should go for all buildings too. People are looking for accommodation and you just lock up blocks of flat over cases still pending in court.
“And these cases may be in court for years. And by the time the cases are concluded, the premises you have sealed no longer have their value.
“The EFCC was set up to revive businesses not to liquidate them. You liquidate businesses by just getting some court orders. That to me is not the way to fight corruption,” he said.
Falana also spoke about vehicles that were seized. He said those vehicles are wasting away at EFCC offices and instead of keeping the vehicles, they can be sold and the money should be kept in an account pending the final court ruling.
Falana added: “If the case is finally resolved in favour of the suspects, they are given the money if not, the money is forfeited to the government.
“That, I think, is better than allowing these vehicles to waste away while cases are being investigated or still pending in court.”