EFCC logoThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has vowed to investigate prominent Nigerians and government officials who are named as having secret foreign accounts or foreign firms that allow them to escape paying tax as contained in PanamaPapers. This was contained in a statement by Osita Nwaja, the director of Information at the anti-graft agency.

Addressing a group of protesters who stormed the Abuja head office of the EFCC to demand the probe of those mentioned in the scandal, Nwaja said: “These papers (Panama Papers) did not emanate from Nigeria but they touch the lives of the people of Nigeria and corruption as well as money laundering has gone beyond national borders as we are seeing from these papers.

“The EFCC is not just a Nigerian organisation. The work that we do goes beyond national borders. So, this request will be looked into along with other requests by other well-meaning Nigerians along the already charted course of Mr. President, which is zero tolerance for corruption, zero tolerance for impunity, zero tolerance for the abuse of public office and continued subjugation of the Nigerian people.”

Also addressing protesters, Oby Ezekwesili, a former Minister of Education, said Nigeria must investigate all those mentioned in the Panama Papers just as other developed countries were doing.

She said: “I want to add my voice to the voices of the members of civil society groups who are demanding that action be immediately taken by our government in initiating a process for further investigation into the allegations coming out of the Panama Papers leaks.

“In fact, in some of the countries, ahead of the facts being established or confirmed, some of the public officials are already resigning from their positions. “The reason we have the EFCC is that when things like this happen globally, and other nations are taking measures to determine how it affects them, our own EFCC, our own government, our own Ministry of Justice must show responsiveness. That is what responsive governance is all about.”

The protesters then marched to the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to submit a petition demanding the probe of those mentioned in the Panama Papers.

The leak of the Panama Papers exposed the alleged illegal financial activities of some of the world’s most powerful people. The documents reportedly provide information on current and former leaders, as well as celebrities and others who allegedly laundered billions of dollars, evaded taxes and dodged sanctions with the help of shell firms abroad.

The 11.5 million documents, held by Panama-based Mossack Fonseca, released to a German newspaper and the International Consortium of Journalists, has triggered reactions around the world. Fonseca, reputed to be the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, helps clients to register offshore entities

which are sometimes used to launder money and evade tax.

Premium Times, the only Nigerian medium that participated in the one year investigation reports had, last week, sighted documents showing that Senate President, Bukola Saraki, his predecessor, Senator David Mark, a former Defence Minister, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), a former Delta state governor James Ibori, amongst others allegedly operated offshore accounts while holding public offices.

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