The Deputy Director, Operation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Iliyasu Kwarbai, has said that most suspects who fell sick in the anti-graft agency’s detention were used to “life of luxury”.
Kwarbai stated this while taking journalists on an inspection tour of the commission`s detention facilities in Lagos.
The tour was organised by the EFCC to debunk reports in a section of the media that the commission tortures those in its custody.
Kwarbai who spoke on behalf of the Acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, said the commission has recovered billions of naira from those involved in the arms procurement fraud.
He stated that it would have been extremely difficult to bring those involved to justice, saying, ‘’if we did not recover the money, we would have been in serious trouble, because, they will use the stolen money to fight the system. For instance, if they have stolen N10 billion, they will set aside N3 billion for litigation and engage senior lawyers to defend them in court.”
Kwarbai explained that EFCC had no reason to use force or torture to extract information from those in its custody over financial fraud as it was being speculated.
He said that the tour had become necessary to correct public negative perception of the commission and its operations, especially with regards to how those in its custody were being treated.
According to him, the commission gives suspects three square meal, and in the event they fall sick, they are immediately taken to its clinic or referred to a hospital where medical bills incurred by suspects are also borne by the anti-graft agency.
Kwarbai said: “before we put them in detention we serve them with bail conditions which they will sign. They’re immediately admitted to bail pending when they produce reasonable sureties, so that if they’re released we ensure that they come back.
“So, we don’t beat any person here. We don’t extract confessional statements. We investigate financial crimes, not robbery or murder where suspects leave the scene and make up an alibi. We don’t need your confessional statements to gather facts and figures. We go to the banks and get our facts. There is no need for us to introduce any harsh method of interrogation at all. We don’t do it.”
He stated that most of time suspect who fall sick were those used to life of luxury, adding that a vehicle is stationed at the centre to take any sick accused person to the clinic, which the EFCC staff also use.
The EFCC chief said the commission was open to plea bargaining, as it saves the government time that would have been wasted on prosecution and enables the suspect to get a lighter sentence after returning all he stole.
Kwarbai, who took journalists and civil society leaders on a tour of the commissions Lagos facilities, said despite the resistance of some accused persons, the operatives are professional in their approach.
Among the facilities visited were EFCC’s detention centres on 7, Okotie-Eboh Street, Ikoyi, its clinic, interview rooms and computerised offices.
Each room in the detention facility, with male and female sections, has a mattress, a shower and a toilet. Kwarbai said two suspects are assigned to a room. There is also a church, named “House of Reconciliation with God”, and a mosque. The clinic has two consulting rooms with two doctors, nurses and a dispensary.