05.12.2008 Feature Article

The Point EFCC Missed In Rivers State

The Point EFCC Missed In Rivers State
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There is no doubt today that the EFCC is losing its integrity and credibility on the war against corruption. Many people today ask, does the corrupt pursue the corrupt? Does a naked man pursue the mad? These questions and others have cropped-up as a result of lack of transparency with which the EFCC runs the affairs of anti-corruption in our country. And corruption, at last, might be the hallmark of the EFCC, which is losing the grip of its original aims and objectives. It no longer fights corruption without minding whatever status or creed of an individual.

The EFCC today is a monument of job opportunities for those who occupy its offices and make noise on anti-corruption war. Mrs. Florida Waziri, the chairperson of the Commission, doesn't examine properly the excessiveness of her cronies before carrying out their duties? The EFCC negates the rule of law, due process and the rule of man in carrying out its duties.

What is the EFCC actually looking for in Rivers State? This was how Obasanjo and Uba nearly rubbished Anambra State, when Dr. Chris Ngige was the governor. Then Anambra was everyday in the black book of the Nigerian news. The EFCC, I believe, is trying to repeat that script of vilification this time around in Rivers, by its declaration December 2, 2008, that five officials of the Rivers State Government (RSG) are wanted.

The corruption fighting agency, it would be recalled, on October 9, 2008, arraigned Chief Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, the Chief of Staff (CoS) to Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers in Abuja High Court presided over by a Hon. Justice Adekukola Banjoka on a seven count charge of alleged stealing, abuse of office, embezzlement and laundering of state funds to the mega tune of N7. 4 billion.

According to the media consultant to Amaechi, Mr. David Iyofor, “The EFCC arrested the Secretary to the RSG, Hon. Magnus Abe, who had gone to their office in Abuja to explain the absence of some officials who were invited by the Commission”.

Mr. Iyofor further declared, “In the letter the EFCC wrote to us, Abe was not invited by the Commission, yet he was held for two days, no explanation was given for his detention”.

The above explanation is the EFCC for you, which has lost focus and direction we now have in Nigeria. The EFCC's activities in Rivers State are like a bird dancing on the road to the tune of its drummer by the side of the bush. This is the EFCC we now have which arrests and detains innocent Nigerians without any explanation or even an apology after the victim was left and not found culpable. Is the EFCC operating on falsehood and play sides on the directives of its initiators to be painting Rivers black?

Did the EFCC not know that on November 17, a Federal High Court, sitting in Port Harcourt, gave an order restraining the EFCC from inviting, interrogating, detaining, arresting or requesting or compelling any official of the RSG to disclose any information, give out any document or record of whatever kind, pending the determination of the suit the RSG filed against the EFCC?

Reportedly, Iyofor said, “This order was very clear and the EFCC was duly served. Besides, in 2006, former Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, got a Court Order restraining the EFCC from arresting RSG officials. We are aware that the legal department of the EFCC has advised the operations department not to go ahead to declare RSG officials wanted because of this subsisting Court Order. So the decision of the operations department to declare these officials wanted is an attempt to embarrass the RSG and the people of the state. The RSG is shocked that an organization like the EFCC that is always talking about the rule of law and obedience of Court Orders can go ahead to violate one”.

However, it is not a rude shock or any embarrassment to me hearing that, because the EFCC has lost focus a long time ago and is acting anyhow it likes whereas there are many investigative cases in Nigeria it should concentrate on. The EFCC breaks the rule of law and court orders. Is that not enough corruption on its part? Or, does it want “settlement” from the RSG? The EFCC should be open and tell us what it wants from Rivers State!

What I thought that the EFCC should be doing at this point of our history is to be sober reflective and apologize to Nigerians it has betrayed their confidence for that pronouncement few weeks ago that the files of the indicted governors in its office has lost, and not to be fighting for relevance with the RSG.

The EFCC should stop playing the script of its writers in the name of curbing corruption with Rivers State Government. The EFCC should boldly apologize to the Rivers State Government and to the Judiciary for breaking Court Orders restraining it from declaring RSG officials wanted and yet have been declaring them wanted.

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State. +234803252855. [email protected]

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