Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
EFCC: An Epitome Of Perfidy And Deception
All that glitters is not gold Often have you heard that told,Gilded tombs do worms infold... -William Shakespare.
culled from DAILY INDEPENDENT, October 12 and 13, 2006(in parts 1 and 2 respectively)
The editorial comment of Saturday, September 10, 2006 edition of The Guardian is an indicator of how far the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and its ego-imbued czar, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, have gone in deceiving the Nigerian people. The elitist newspaper, in the said editorial titled 'NBA Annual Conference: Matters Arising,' perhaps, due to incomplete information, reduced the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA’s) call for the removal of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the Chairman of the EFCC, to a demand by Mr. Lanke Odogiyon, the then outgoing President of NBA. The fact is that what transpired at the Port Harcourt conference cannot be reduced to Mr. Odogiyon's personal appraisal of the EFCC. Let's not even mind the thunderous applause and ovation that Mr. Odogiyon's speech earned. The crucial immutable fact is that a day after his speech, specifically on Tuesday, the 29th day of August, 2006, in an interactive session of the Bar, the NBA with a resounding majority passed a resolution calling for the removal of the EFCC Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
Most of the lawyers who criticised Mr. Odogiyon, particularly, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, did not attend the Bar Conference. Perhaps, if Gani had been there, he would have attempted to match the "legal and factual substance" (which he says is lacking) and which informed the NBA's stand, with his puny view that the "EFCC has moved against the rich and the powerful, the influential and the well-connected, the highly placed...." Inevitably, in a gathering of lawyers, Chief Gani Fawehinmi would have been obliged to point out the empowering provisions of the EFCC Act of 2004, which created the duty for the EFCC to move against the rich and the powerful etc.... Short of sadistic impulses, is this position not a somersault of legal jurisprudence?
Relevantly, at the said Port Harcourt conference, some lawyers made a frail attempt to derail the resolution calling for Ribadu's removal. Particularly, Mr. Femi Falana urged the Bar to limit the resolution to a call that the EFCC should adhere to the Constitutional provisions of charging suspects to court within the stipulated time. He had also canvassed the deceptive toga of fighting corruption. Hands flew up indicating apparent zeal to reply him. Responses were made. Particularly, Chief Theodore Ezeobi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and a former Chairman of the Lagos Bar, urged the Bar not to allow its principled stand to be derailed by uncanny views, which he dismissed as self-serving. At the end, the resolution was passed by a resounding voice vote! Of grave importance is the fact that Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), in league with Mr. Femi Falana, had declared, with unimaginable enthusiasm, that they don't accept briefs against EFCC, and vowed to continue in that line. Hence, apart from the unethical undertones of their position, their bias in favour of EFCC is quite profound.
The call for Ribadu's removal is a principled and informed stand that the NBA was obliged to take to stop the bastardization of law and order in Nigeria. Quite apart from the open contempt for the courts and its orders, Ribadu has actually perfected the act of perfidy and deception as a new form of law and order. In fact, there is no single act of the EFCC under Ribadu, that is not riddled with loathsome perfidy, deception and high- brand dishonesty. How many Nigerians, even the elite, are aware of the fact that Tafa Balogun, the former Inspector General of Police, was convicted and jailed 6 months for refusal to answer questions, an alleged offence which the EFCC found in section 38 (2)(b) of the EFCC Act of 2004, which cannot stand in the face of Constitutional provisions? That is, even if the alleged offence can be located within the provisions of S. 38(2)(b) at all. Is it any wonder, that an obviously elated Tafa Balogun, announced to the nation that he will bounce back? Indeed he has!
The proceedings that led to the so-called conviction proved to be a spectacle of theatrics and debasement of the judiciary. After reading their so-called charges to Tafa Balogun, to which he pleaded guilty, the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, in his theatrics, practically took over the conduct of the court (not the case) from the judge! On his own insistence, he re-read the charges to the accused, and went on to spell out what he termed to be the ingredients of the offence. Worse still, the eight companies charged along with Tafa Balogun were not in court. No person, Director or member was in the dock for the companies! Even Tafa Balogun himself was not in any way linked to the companies in the charge. The show of shame scaled the limit when a certain lawyer addressed the court from the Bar and entered a plea of "guilt" for the companies! Did these sordid proceedings escape the eagle, fiery eye of Chief Gani Fawehinmi? Is this obvious reduction of our judiciary to rude mockery not a tragedy of unimaginable consequences? In ignoring this vital index in judging the "good works" of Ribadu, what else could have mattered?
Should we forget that the EFCC, knowing full well that the deception they executed at the Federal High Court could not pass for a trial, professed to 'continue' with the sister charge at the Abuja High Court? Significantly, all that is known of the case now is that the first time it came up this year was a public holiday! The second time, the court was confronted with an application for adjournment founded on a medical report explaining the absence of the accused person. The hapless judge pointed out that the medical report was issued some two or three weeks before the date. In any event, the EFCC neither opposed the application for adjournment, nor faulted the medical report. Apparently, they were part of it. Willy-nilly, the adjournment was granted. Nothing has been heard of that case since then. Case closed?
Will it not take a fool to agree that the jailing of Tafa Balogun for six months is more important to the nation than a proper investigation and revelation of how over N 17.7 billion was amassed by somebody in charge of the nation’s Police Force? What was the source of the money? What was it meant for? The shadow companies charged along with Tafa Balogun, who are they? Are they fictitious or real? If real, who are the members and directors? If fictitious, how were they incorporated? Who is the lawyer behind the incorporation? Will it not serve the cause of law and order better if the lawyers behind the incorporation of companies for fictitious and non-existent persons are exposed and dealt with in accordance with the law? Will the war against 419 (stealing by false pretences) not be better served if our Corporate Register is kept clean?
With the above in mind, is it not clear that EFCC deliberately shielded Tafa Balogun, with this dummy of a trial? And in shielding Tafa Balogun, is it not clear that the EFCC was zealously shielding the high and the mighty who, inevitably, are directly involved in his acts as they relate to the N17.7 billion in issue. Who would ignore Tafa Balogun's threat to "open up"? Of what value, in the scale of probity, was his denial of accusing President Obasanjo of betrayal? Can the EFCC succeed to deceive Nigerians that Balogun's outburst was an empty or uncouth flippancy?
Ribadu has successfully turned law and order particularly criminal proceedings on its head. Is it not shocking that Ribadu could find the effrontery to walk into the office of the Chief Judge of Lagos State to demand that the courts should desist from granting bail in all EFCC's cases? In fact, to the EFCC, a criminal proceeding is nothing more than an instrument of compulsion and blackmail. It is only this phenomenon that can explain why Chief Mike Adenuga, after his arrest and release by the EFCC, had to visit Aso Rock, the Nigerian seat of government.
That the EFCC is an organization that is employed to hound political opponents is not just an empty allegation. In fact, it is an understatement of the sordid role of the EFCC in our polity. More to that, the EFCC, in reality, is a machine of harassment, intimidation and crude distortion of law and order. After all, Ribadu himself proclaimed in his usual pomp and glee that "criminals are today riding the crest of opposition to attempt to warm their ways back to power." It is clear, therefore, that in Ribadu's world, the opposition are criminals. Any trash on paper can therefore pass for a charge, and the courts would be kept busy sniffing at it. The EFCC, like a pretended friend, is worse than the open foe of corruption confronting Nigerians.
Presently, the nation is agog with the EFCC's report against the Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Good job, we all say. But omitting the statement of Alhaji Hamisu Abubakar in the said report is sheer perfidy and deception. Alhaji Yusutu Hamisu Abubakar (aka Mairago), we should not forget, is the Executive Secretary of Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), which is in the centre of the storm. Clearly, Alhaji Hamisu Abubakar has the whole explanation of the essence and movement of the fund of the PTDF. Why should Ribadu suppress his statement to the EFCC? Nigerians are aware that Alhaji Hamisu Abubakar was arrested and detained for some time, perhaps one month or so. During this period of incarceration, did the EFCC forget to obtain written statements from him? Or, perhaps, did he refuse to make any statement to the EFCC? If so, how come the EFCC did not apply S.38 (2)(b) of the 2004 Act (under which Tafa Balogun, was purportedly convicted) and charge him (Hamisu Abubakar) for refusal to answer questions? Definitely, Nuhu Ribadu lost some of his zeal in this score. What does Mallam Nuhu Ribadu take Nigerians for?
In the current nemesis that is engulfing both Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, it is more horrendous that the EFCC is suppressing and suffocating evidence that is pointing to the fact that the PTDF monies are really looted monies, that is, monies stolen from the coffers of the state without due appropriation, meant to be shared by the presidency at will. Instead of raising infantile accusations of blackmail against Atiku, Ribadu should explain to the nation how a "payment credit advice from Mr. Bodunde Adeyanju, Special Assistant to the President, transferring the sum of $110,000 US Dollar to the President's …..friend, ....from the Marine Float" one of the accounts in the centre of EFCC's investigation- escaped his attention.
In spite of the well-known fact that Nigeria is burdened with "Aso Rock of Corruption" (apologies to The News magazine) since 1999, Nigerians should refuse to be fooled by the jaundiced deception and cover-up that the Ridadu's report clearly is.
Still on the war on corruption, when critics cried out that the ill-fated third term agenda was being propelled by massive cash incentives for the Federal Legislators, the EFCC was called to investigate it. In his characteristics queerness, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the Chairman, asked for information from the public to enable him to investigate the allegation!
If not that I lacked Ribadu's brand of zeal and patriotism, I would have gone to my village, assemble all the despoiled palm wine tappers and peasant farmers therein, march them to the EFCC's headquarters, at Abuja, to enable them give our zealous and patriotic Ribadu, all the information and evidence he needed! I mean, this troop would be the best to give Ribadu cogent information and evidence relating to bank transfers to Abuja, and huge cash withdrawals from banks within and around Abuja metropolis. Definitely, in his characteristics, Ribadu would not need any bank records of transfer or withdrawals of funds to find a reasonable cause to investigate the allegations.
Even the citizenry are not spared the reckless mischief of Ribadu and his EFCC troops. In spite of the restrictive attitude with which cases against the EFCC is handled, the Lagos State High Court had given a judgment declaring that the EFCC is not a debt collector, and restraining them from so acting. Only a person who does not live in this country will have the inkling that EFCC embarks on illegal debt collection for the fun of it.
There was once a story in the Daily Sun newspaper of how the EFCC, prompted by a jilted lover, arrested a groom on the eve of his wedding The story got funnier when the "lover" narrated her own story in the same newspaper, explaining that she is not just a lover, but the wife of the hapless groom. She further explained that the substance of her allegation is that the groom, (her alleged husband) made her part with some money which she claim was applied to acquire the house the groom was then living in. Whether her story reveals mere civil dispute, or at worst, an offence of bigamy was of no moment to the EFCC.
Properly mobilised the Nigerian way, the EFCC could do anything. Their toga of war against corruption and financial crime is a good cover-up for any absurdity. I have met a man who was arrested by the EFCC at the airport on his way to the United States of America. The poor fellow was having a running battle with his wife over what he termed the fraudulent disposition of his property. He was really on his way to the US to give evidence in an ongoing suit against his wife when he was arrested and his passport impounded. One could fill the bottomless pit with EFCC's atrocities.
Nigerians should be wary of allowing their determination to stamp out corruption from their midst to be truncated by this odious body called the EFCC. The considered resolution of the NBA is quite apt and we cannot afford to sleep while the rule of law and order is systematically destroyed by Ribadu and his troops. Ribadu must go. Further to that, Chief Bayo Ojo, the Attorney General of the Federation, should go too. He has abdicated his role as the nation’s Law Officer. That is, if he ever perceived one. The EFCC Act of 2004 should be reviewed and the EFCC itself re-organised to meet the yearnings of the Nigerian people against bribery and corruption.
• Ndubiagu Jnr, Assistant Publicity Secretary of the Lagos branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), wrote in from Campbell Street, Lagos
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.