The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, yesterday explained that suspects often fall sick in the agency’s detention cells.
Mangu, who argued that the EFCC’s cells were well-equipped, said that it was the larger than life style of the suspects that makes them to take ill once they are held.
He disclosed that the commission had secured over 45 convictions in Lagos courts since January while the sum of N2 billion was also recovered during the period.
The EFCC boss denied that the commission tortures suspects in its detention centres to extract statements from them, adding that if any suspect falls ill, they are immediately taken to the commission’s clinic or referred to a hospital.
Magu, who was represented by the Deputy Director of Operations, Lagos Zonal Office of the EFCC, Mr. Illiyasu Kwarbai, said suspects are only detained beyond 48 hours with a court order.
According to him, medical bills incurred by suspects are also borne by the EFCC, which also feeds them three times daily.
Kwarbai, who took journalists and civil societies’ leaders on a tour of the commission’s Lagos facilities, said despite the resistance of some accused persons, the operatives are professional in their approach.
Among the facilities visited were the EFCC’s detention centre on 7, Okotie-Eboh Street, Ikoyi, 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.
He said: “In the course of interviews some other windows will be opened, which may require further interrogation. In that case we secure court orders or remand warrants 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 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 said.
Kwarbai said one of EFCC’s goals is to recover stolen funds from suspects, adding that over N2 billion had been recovered this year, including properties worth billions of Naira.
“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 N10 billion, they will set aside N3 billion 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.