The Abuja Zonal Office of the — Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of two of the 77 Nigerians on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) wanted list in the United States (U.S.).
A list of suspects was released last month. Those on the list were implicated in a massive conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a variety of fraud schemes.
The two suspects- Chika Augustine and Godspower Nwachukwu – were arrested in Abuja, the EFCC said.
Augustine is number 21 on the FBI list. The only Nwachukwu on the list, has other local names.
Also, the zonal office has made 293 arrests with over 465 cases being investigated.
The breakthrough was announced by the new Zonal Head, Mr. Aminu Ado Aliyu, at a news conference in Abuja against the backdrop of manhunt for the suspects who are mostly in the country.
Aliyu said $35,000 has been recovered from Augustine.
He also claimed that another suspect, who had long been on the FBI radar, was picked up in November last year, investigated and ready for trial.
Asked if the suspects on FBI list would be extradited, Aliyu added: “This decision is between the EFCC headquarters and FBI.”
A 252-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed in August charged 77 Nigerian nationals with participating in a massive conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a variety of fraud schemes and launder the funds through a Los Angeles-based money laundering network as uncovered by the FBI.
Apart from the arrest of FBI suspects, the Zonal Head said EFCC has made 293 arrests and secured 33 convictions.
He said that over 465 cases are currently under investigations with recovered funds from January to August 2019 at N423, 006,987.92; $39,253 and €2330.
Aliyu said: “Under my leadership, the zone has stayed focused on the Commission’s vision and goal to ensure that we fight corruption to the end. In line with that and in accordance with the Acting Chairman’s mission, the zone has strategised plans aimed at preventing, investigating and prosecuting financial and economic crimes. I make bold to say that this has yielded fruitful results.
“From January 2019 till date, our relentless anti-corruption stance saw us secure 33 convictions. We currently carry out collaborative operations with other zones and it has resulted to about 293 arrests and over 465 cases are currently under investigations. Of these arrests and investigations, 90 arrests were made mostly through intelligence gathering, 21 convictions were secured by the Cyber Crime Unit and 110 cases are still under investigation.
“We have also been able to recover a large number of exotic cars and properties suspected to have been acquired through the proceeds of crime. Devices used by the suspects have been confiscated and the proceeds from these cybercrimes will be forfeited after convictions have been secured.
“Prior to the release of the FBI list, we had in collaboration with the FBI, cases under investigation of which 2 suspects indicted in the list released by the FBI are in our custody. On the other hand, another suspect on the list is being investigated independently on a different case and his case is pending arraignment.
“We have further intensified our efforts in cracking down cybercrimes that have been traced down to Nigeria in collaboration with the FBI. Notably, from January to August 2019, recovered funds stand at N423, 006,987.92; $39,253 and €2330.
“The modus operandi of these cybercrimes include the following: Romance scams, Email Phishing, Business Email Compromise, Wire Transfer, Identity Theft, Fraudulent bit coin and crypto currency sales, Obtaining by false pretense to mention a few.”
Aliyu implored the media to join forces with the EFCC to wage war against financial and cybercrimes.
He added: “We therefore implore you to help us and ensure that the anti-corruption message is spread via the different media houses. You must continue to collaborate and cooperate with us to make the fight a success.
“I urge you to continue to help us sensitize, mobilize and educate all the critical stakeholders to continue to support the fight against economic and financial crimes. We must collectively strive to achieve the Nigeria of our dream.
“Corruption has done a lot of harm to the society. Like the President said: “we must kill corruption before it kills us”. We have to stand together to fight it. There will be no surrender in this war against corruption.”