The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said that the freezing of accounts of those being investigated for financial crimes is lawful and not vindictive as is being insinuated.
Mr Wilson Uwujaren, Head of Media and Publicity of the commission, explained this in a statement on Monday in Abuja.
It explained that the action was a lawful mandatory investigative step.
Indeed, Section 34 (1) of the EFCC Act 2004 empowers the commission to freeze any account suspected of being used for financial crimes,’’ the statement quoted Uwujaren as saying.
It said the section empowers the commission’s chairman or any authorised officer to order the freezing of such account if he was satisfied that the money in the account was made fraudulently.
It added that the commission by the Act has the power to issue or instruct a Bank examiner or such other appropriate authority to freeze such account.
It further said that 2012 amended Money Laundering Prohibition Act also empowers the EFCC chairman or his representatives to place a stop order on accounts or transactions suspected to be involved in crime.
The statement added that the Act was to ensure that the commission safeguards suspected proceeds of crime pending the completion of its investigation.
It is without prejudice to the social standing of the holder of such accounts or whether they are individual, corporate or government accounts.
Freezing orders are incidental to investigation and doing otherwise will jeopardise the prospects of recovering stolen assets,’’ the statement said.