15 September 2006

Nigeria: Screening of Aspirants - Fraudsters Impersonate EFCC

Lagos — ECONOMIC and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it has mounted a crackdown on unscrupulous persons and fraudsters, allegedly using the commission to dupe and extort money from Nigerians, particularly political aspirants.

EFCC warned "such fraudsters to desist from such criminal acts or face the wrath of law".

The commission's Head, Media and Publicity, Mr. Osita Nwajah, said yesterday in a statement made available to Daily Champion that the unscrupulous elements while pretending to screen intending political aspirants for 2007 general elections, dupe and extort money from politicians.

The commission said it has however declared a manhunt on the fraudsters, even as it warned "people to be wary of such unscrupulous elements".

Nwajah said the agency has got reports that the fraudsters "who allegedly dressed in dark suits, posing as operatives of the commission, pretend to be screening intending political office holders".

The conmen, he explained, dupe their unwary victims of cash running into millions of naira in order to obtain a nonexistent EFCC clearance certificates that would qualify them to run in 2007 election.

Explaining further, Nwajah said that "there is no such thing as EFCC clearance certificate", noting that "EFCC's officials render services at no cost."It should be made clear that all costs, including those for information, investigation, prosecution and undertaking of preventive measures are borne entirely by the commission."

The spokesman however enjoined the public to take precautionary steps by requesting for proper staff identification card of persons claiming to be EFCC staff, warning that on no account should money be given."Ask for a proper staff identification card, call the EFCC hotlines to ascertain legitimacy, refrain from giving money or insist on all meetings holding at designated EFCC offices."

Nwajah further vowed that the commission will crack down on the suspects who perpetrate such acts.

It could be recalled that Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently declared its readiness to invite some security agencies in the country to screen political office holders, a move that was dropped due to public criticisms.

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