Lagos State, the commercial hub of Nigeria, is currently battling with a series of scams, mostly Foreign Exchange, Business Email Compromise, investment, land and property scams among others.
The Acting Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulkarim Chukkol, disclosed this.
Chukkol stated this while addressing and welcoming a crop of select journalists to a one-day workshop on Economic and Financial Crimes Reporting, held at the Lagos Zonal Command on Thursday.
The workshop was organised by the EFCC for accredited reporters covering the beat.
Chukkol said: “As the economic nerve centre of Nigeria, all manner of economic and financial crimes finds the Lagos environment perfect location to incubate and bloom.
Forex scams, Business Email Compromise, investment scams and land and property fraud among others are some of the financial and economic crimes prevalent within the Lagos environment.”
Chukol, who spoke through the EFCC Lagos Commander, ACE1 Michael Wetkas, further said: “As an indication of the magnitude of the challenge, the Lagos Command had received a total of 512 and 876 petitions on investment and Forex-related scam respectively, involving the sums of N317,908,343,469; $3,205,648; and N11,686,499,431.79.
“Many of these cases are under investigation while recoveries running into billions of Naira and millions and thousands of other currencies have been made.”
Chukkol expressed worries over the ease with which citizens fell prey to the wiles of scammers, adding: “Their folly is energised by the desperation to get rich quick.”
He revealed that in the last couple of months, the EFCC has intensified public sensitisation in line with its belief that some of these crimes could be prevented if people have the right information.
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He said: “This is where your professionalism and collaboration are needed.
“We need the media to help in educating citizens to be circumspect in embracing investment opportunities, especially where the return on investment seems too good to be true.”
The Acting Chairman said that it was important to reiterate: “We owe our nation and the entire world an obligation of exposing every criminal act through our reporting.”
He stressed that the fight against financial and economic crimes should not be left to the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies.
His words: “The media should do more to support the Commission and mobilise the people to take full ownership of the fight against corruption in our country.”
Chukkol said that the decision of the Commission to sponsor the workshop showed the importance it attached to the role of the media in the fight against economic and financial crimes, including corruption.
He added: “Without a doubt, the media’s ability to inform and sensitise the people on the ills of corruption and economic crime is crucial for us.
“All over the world, the watchdog role of the media promotes transparent and accountable leadership.
“In the instance of the EFCC, the media has proven to be a critical stakeholder and ally in the difficult task of sanitising our environment.
“This partnership is functional and rewarding.
“We can only wish that the synergy gets stronger and stronger.”
Chukkol explained that he knew and admitted that the task of placing the EFCC works on daily focus and scrutiny are both engaging and arduous.
He said that he deliberately used the word engaging “because the Commission has been profoundly impactful in combating the menace of corrupt practices in our midst, going by its impressive records of convictions, asset forfeitures, and other tangible proofs of accomplishments over the years.
“The reporting has also been arduous because our works are not static, and journalists have been keeping pace with our speed and energy.”
Chukkol noted that it was due to these challenges mentioned above that the Commission commenced a workshop on economic and financial crimes reporting for journalists in 2022, adding: “The programme is one of the modest efforts of the Commission to build synergy and understanding with the media.
“The Lagos Command was one of the beneficiaries of the workshop when it was flagged off last year.
“Other Zonal Commands have been added this year to ensure that the media is adequately carried along in our engagements.”