NIGERIA’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday pledged to ‘cooperate’ with the United States (US) government security operatives including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the $1.1 billion cyber fraud allegation levelled against 77 Nigerians.
Though, it claimed it is yet to receive official complaint as well as the list of the accused persons from the US Government.
Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC Acting Chairman disclosed this when Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians Diaspora Commission visited headquarters of the Commission in Abuja.
She was accompanied by Dr Nasiru Mohammed Nadan, Director-General, National Directorate of Employment (NDE) and other top government functionaries at the meeting that ended late in the evening.
Describing the cyber-fraud incident as very sad and, a borderless crime, Magu restated that the EFCC would support the security operatives of the US government. He said the commission, through its “operation wire-wire”, once partnered with the US to flush the internet fraudsters from the country, especially in Lagos state.
“Is like the era of 419 is coming back, I remember we worked with the FBI in Lagos and Benue. We carried out this operation wire-wire. I think the FBI mentioned us among the agencies that participated in the operation and it was very successful only to come back to this 77 Nigerians. We will go out to their strongholds and hideouts,” says Magu.
“We will also cooperate with our partners.
“Last time we were in Ghana, you will realise that when the heat was so much here most of them moved to Ghana. They are now operating in Ghana and neighbouring countries. So we will cooperate with our neighbours also to check the menace of these yahoo-yahoo guys and the cyber-crime issue because it’s a borderless crime.”
The EFCC chairman, who emphasised that tackling the menace should be a collective effort, expressed excitement that the Americans did acknowledge participation of the commission against the crime in joint operations.
He urged the media to help enlighten the public, stressing that some Nigerians don’t believe the internet fraud is illegal. According to him, the group has ‘mothers of yahoo-yahoo association’ such that each time the accused persons are arrested; they launch protests, converge at the EFCC office demanding for their releases.
“One woman was saying that his father (the accused’s father) did not do achieve anything or build a house but when the boy started, within three months, he demolished the whole place and built a new structure. So it is very difficult,” Magu added.
However, he disclosed that 42 convictions on internet fraud have been secured only within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) since January till date while 32 cases are still in court.
In her remarks, Dabiri-Erewa said the Federal Government would support extradition of the accused persons if requested by the US government.
But she stressed that the identified persons are not guilty until proven otherwise by a competent court.
“A few who committed the crime must not tarnish the image of all other Nigerians. So those who committed these crimes will be brought to book,” says Dabiri-Erewa.
Nadan also charged Nigerian youths to take advantage of the NDE’s new work portal – NDE as well as the Mentored Graduate Attachment Programme. He also mentioned the Graduate teaching Scheme all accessible to interested youths on the organisation’s website.
The ICIR earlier reported how the accused persons allegedly stole the huge sum within seven months, after over 14, 000 petitions were submitted to the security operatives.
“I’ll like to give you some numbers. In the first seven months of this year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) internet crime complaint centres received nearly 14, 000 complaints from victims reported Business Email Compromise (BEC) incidents with a total loss of $1.1 billion,” says Paul Delacourt, the FBI Assistant Director in charge of the case.
The accused persons, most of whom the United States Justice Department claimed are in Nigeria have been under surveillance for arrest and prosecution for the alleged offence committed.
Two among those allegedly involved, Valentine Iro, 31, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38, had been arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).