The chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu on Thursday said the Commission does not torture suspects.
He said the agency conducts its investigations by dealing with facts and figures which it calls on suspects to tender a form of explanation.
According to Magu, the Commission has secured over 45 convictions in Lagos courts since January.
Magu who was represented by Deputy Director of Operations, Lagos Zonal Office, Mr Illiyasu Kwarbai, said suspects are only detained beyond 48 hours with a court order, and those who fall sick are taken to the hospital.
Kwarbai, who took journalists and civil society leaders on a tour of the Commissions Lagos facilities, said suspects who fall sick are treated on the Commission’s bill. He also said that suspects are fed three-times daily.
Among the facilities visited were EFCC’s detention centre on 7, Okotie-Eboh Street, Ikoyi, its clinic, interview rooms and computerized 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.
Kwarbai said, “In the course of interviews, some other windows will be opened, which may require further interrogation. In that case we secure court order or remand warrant to enable us keep them.
“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 confessional statements to gather facts and figures. We go to the banks and other places and get our facts. There is no need for us to introduce any harsh method of interrogation at all. We don’t do it.”
Kwarbai said over two billion naira has been recovered from suspects, including properties worth billions.
“Our recoveries are in billions. If we don’t recover some of these funds and you leave them with the accused persons, then we are in trouble and the country is also in trouble, because they have ‘destructive’ weapons,” he said.
He said some suspects run to the court to prevent their arrest, while others hire the best lawyers to delay the cases.
“Sometimes by mere invitation, these accused persons will go to court. We didn’t go to arrest them – just to come and answer to allegations against them in the interest of fair hearing, but they won’t.
“If they have stolen N10billion, they will set aside N3billion for litigation. There was a time I was in the witness box for more than five hours being cross examined by the defence lawyer,” Kwarbai said.
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 what he stole.
Head of Legal and Prosecution in Lagos, Gbolahan Latona, said EFCC was not at loggerheads with the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.
“The AGF and the state counterparts are the chief law officers as enshrined in the Constitution. Under the EFCC Act, the AGF or his representative is a member of the board of EFCC.”
Dolapo is a writer and journalist who works with YNaija. He has interests in Christianity, politics and sports.