The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has clarified that its Executive Chairman, Mr. Ola Olukoyede, did not accuse any church or mosque of being involved in money laundering activities.
In a statement issued by the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, on Thursday, the EFCC said that some media outlets, especially Arise News, had misinterpreted and misrepresented the remarks made by Olukoyede at a public engagement on Youth, Religion and the Fight Against Corruption in Abuja on Wednesday.
The EFCC said that Olukoyede had only expressed his concern over the role of some religious sect leaders in facilitating money laundering schemes that had defrauded Nigerians of billions of naira and caused deaths and injuries to some victims.
The statement quoted Olukoyede as saying: “As I’m standing before you, there is a matter we are handling, a pyramid scheme that involves over N30 billion fleeced from Nigerians. Along the line, some people died, some victims collapsed and all of that. We were able to trace over N7billion to a particular religious body and I said, write a letter to the leader of that religious sect, and we did. The next thing we saw was a restraining order. We got a restraining order restraining us from recovering the money. Meanwhile, people have died along the line. Money traced directly to your body, and that is what we are battling. Of course, we have appealed, and this is the situation that is facing us, religious leaders.”
The statement also cited another example of money laundering involving a religious sect that had allegedly funded terrorists. Olukoyede said: “When I was the Chief of Staff, we investigated an issue of money laundering, somewhere in this country. There is a particular religious sect that laundered money for terrorists. These are the problems we are battling with.”
The EFCC stressed that Olukoyede did not mention any specific church, mosque or religious entity in his speech, and that his comments were twisted with mischievous connotations by some media outlets.
The statement said: “The groups fingered by the EFCC chair are religious sects, not a church or a mosque. Those subjecting this disclosure to sinister interpretation are on to mischief and should be ignored.”
The EFCC assured the public that its chairman was focused on his mandate of tackling all forms of economic and financial crimes and would not be distracted by baseless allegations or insinuations.