EFCC: Fighting Anti-Graft War Or Prosecuting Vendetta? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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EFCC: Fighting Anti-Graft War Or Prosecuting Vendetta?

Posted: Jun 19, 2016 at 3:25 am   /   by   /   comments (0)




The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission last week raided the house belonging to Musiliu Obanikoro, former Minister of State for Defence under former President Goodluck Jonathan, and a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain. Also, former Minister of Aviation and a PDP stalwart, Femi Fani-Kayode is still in detention at the EFCC cell. Fani-Kayode has been held for close to two months, and yet to have his day in court. The actions of the commission are said to be in pursuant of the anti-corruption crusade of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. But, since most of the people being arrested or detained are members of the opposition PDP, many people now wonder if the anti-graft war is indeed aimed at silencing the opposition. So far, except Jafaru Issa, a former military officer and ally of Buhari, no member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in any state has been arrested and made to refund money. Issa reportedly collected from the slush fund for the campaign of former President Goodluck Jonathan even though he was openly rooting for the Buhari to win the election.

 EFCC Unquestionably Selective, Discriminatory

Prince Bath Obi, a PDP chieftain and former member of the Imo State House of Assembly representing Owerri North Constituency maintains that the EFCC is unquestionably selective and discriminatory in its anti-corruption war.

He asked: “Why is it that it is only members of the PDP that are being asked to refund funds which they allegedly looted? Are they (EFCC) saying that those of the APC are saints? Who is fooling who?

Chief Simeon Udunka, a Second Republic politician and former Commissioner for Special Duties in the defunct Chief Sam Mbakwe administration reiterates that the EFCC was established by an enabling law and it is backed by the constitution. But, whether the members of the agency are living up to expectation or not, according to him, is a matter of conjecture.

Udunka stated: “From the time the commission was established till date, the question we should be asking ourselves is whether corruption is decreasing or increasing. Corruption is their signpost and in such a situation, what do we have? Honestly, the bar is very low.”

EFCC Is A Toothless Bulldog

For Pastor Ignatius Ejike Osuagwu of Christ Living Ministries Inc, the EFCC is a toothless bulldog. Hear him: “Every time, we keep on hearing that so-so person has been arrested and quizzed over alleged financial impropriety and thereafter, the matter ends. Let me state categorically clear that the anti-corruption body has not been fair to the opposition parties and the average Nigerian.

“Have you heard that any top notch politician in the government in power at the centre has been arrested for financial impropriety? If you are in PDP and you commit a financial blunder and defect to the APC, my friend, you are covered.”

Chief Onyedikachi Njoku, an Owerri-based industrialist, however disagreed. According to him, he does not subscribe to the notion that the EFCC is persecuting anybody as far as the war against corruption is concerned.

He said: “Everybody should carry his own cross. If you have no skeleton in the cupboard, there is no way the commission will come after you. The people there are human beings and so are not infallible. But whatever is the case, I believe that they are doing their best except that we Nigerians are difficult to handle.”

Chief Mrs Ngozi Iwuji, senior APC Women activist maintains that the EFCC is doing its best to rid the nation of corruption. According to her, the war against corruption is not something that can be won overnight because corruption has eaten too deep into the fabric of our society.

She stresses that it is unfair to accuse the commission of selective justice because as the saying goes, “there is no smoke without fire.”

EFCC Not Waging Any War Against The Opposition

Chief Ayiri Emami, a Warri-based business mogul and APC chieftain in Delta State absolves the EFCC of the allegation of waging war against the opposition. According to him, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who is currently facing charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) is a member of the APC. He disclosed that only recently, a former Delta South Senatorial aspirant, also an APC member and former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Raymond Omatseye, was sentenced to five years imprisonment over some matter at the agency he headed.

Emami explains: “The fact that Musiliu Obanikoro’s house was raided and Chief Fani-Kayode is still in detention does not mean that the EFCC is after the opposition party members at all. The EFCC will get to various persons with criminal records with time, it is a gradual process. Those crying wolf perhaps have skeletons in their cupboards and want to use this method to cause distraction and diversion of attention from their crimes.

“Look at it again, the opposition was in power for 16 good years. Any new administrations’ action against perceived looting and monumental corruption would certainly be only by those who had had the rare privilege of being in the corridors of power. When they were in power and indiscriminately dipping their hands into our common wealth, did they envisage anytime that the game would ever turn against them? So let them bear and face the charges being pressed against them by the EFCC.

“Note again that they are only required to go and defend the charges and if they do that and prove themselves innocent, then they be will discharged and acquitted. But if they fail, too bad, they should go for it.

“Imagine the huge sums some of them allegedly stole and are even making returns. Are they saying they should be applauded for shamelessly milking the country to death? I think the EFCC should be given kudos to encourage them further no matter whose ox is gored.

“We all know President Buhari. The fear of Buhari has become the beginning of wisdom. He has been able to redeem the country’s bad image within the comity of nations and I urge him to relentlessly pursue thieves and recover all recoverables to be well deployed to the various segments of our economy and bring back smile to our faces.”

Barrister Kunle Oyatomi, an Osogbo-based legal practitioner and director of publicity and strategy to the APC in Osun State, says that the EFCC is an institution created by law and whatever it does is expected to be in compliance with the laws of the country. He adds that the EFCC operations are under extra-ordinary circumstances.

According to him, “There is an undeclared State of Emergency? in Nigeria today. If we had one (state of emergency) nobody will query the action of the EFCC, because, under the law, many criminals had gone away with too many crimes against humanity. And one of the greatest crimes that has been committed against Nigerians is the massive corruption by politicians and officials of government which has effectively brought the economy into recession.

“To understand the magnitude of the crime, we only have to look around to see how Nigerians are suffering. This is unacceptable under any circumstances. And to deal with the situation effectively, extra-ordinary measures are also necessary. These are the measures the EFCC is taking now.

“Our problem is that the government has not deemed it fit to declare a state of social and economic emergency, under which the EFCC measures will be justified. It is a pity that we are looking at the law and ignoring the crime. I think that is a wrong approach.

“Those who had the courage in secret to vandalise the economy against all provisions of the laws of the land must be prepared to face the consequences, one of which is the vigorous investigation of their persons and assets in order to recover from them what they have illegally acquired.

“That I believe is the context in which we should appreciate the action of the EFCC. There is nothing in the human rights context that justifies criminality. Criminals must face justice.”

APC, Buhari On Revenge Mission

Fatima Ardo, a judicial worker, maintains that by using the EFCC to go after some PDP chieftains like Musliu Obanikoro and the former Minister Femi Fani-Kayode in the way and manner they are doing so is not good.

“But, it only goes a long way to prove the insinuations that the All Progressive Congress (APC) government is on revenge mission to pay members of the opposition PDP because maybe somebody has told Buhari that it was the PDP that did not want him to rule Nigeria since he contested severally for the Presidency without success.”

According to Ardo, going by what is happening now, “even if the Federal Government has genuine case nobody will believe that, because the arrests, detention and other forms of harassment are one-sided. The fact that they are all members of the PDP shows element of bias on the part of the Federal Government’s instrument of fighting corruption.

“What was their offence, what did they do that no other Nigerian has done before now and has been swept under the carpets? These are the questions I expect Nigerians to be asking. I am not a politician, but what these politicians do cause us Nigerians serious setback and also make ridicule of us as a people before the western world and it is not the best for us as a country.”

EFCC Instrument Of Personal Vendetta

Muyiwa Abdulkareem, a political scientist, believes that there is everything morally wrong for the continued undue harassment of perceived political opponents by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government using the EFCC under the guise of fighting corruption.

He stresses: “What the Federal Government is doing, they may not know, is destroying the image of Nigeria and that of President Buhari because many people will see him as somebody who is on a revenge mission to strangulate opponents for a one-party country and this is not good enough for us as the most populous black nation and acclaimed giant of Africa.

Abdulkareem adds: “It is morally wrong for the Federal Government’s agency to lay siege to some prominent members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); and ransacking the house of Musliu Obanikoro and keeping Femi Fani-Kayode in detention.

“With what is happening, I am tempted to believe what many Nigerians are saying that it is a sin in Fulani culture to forgive and that Buhari is on revenge mission against political opponents. I am beginning to see elements of truth in the insinuation”

Sarah Nmadu, a civil servant, states that the raid by EFCC of the house of Obanikoro and continued detention of Fani-Kayode shows that the anti-graft war of the President Muhammadu Buhari government is being pursued to silence the opposition voices.

“If you look at virtually all the arrests and detention, they are all members of one political party. Does it mean that it is only the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members that are today found to be ‘corrupt’ or that they have done what no other persons in Nigeria have done in the past?

“Corruption is still very much in the present administration. Why are the corrupt people in this government not arrested and detained as well? To me, what is happening is a sort of personal vendetta against some perceived political opponents.”