The repeated raids carried out on the Kaduna residence of former Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, a few weeks ago by operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission have continued to elicit reactions, writes John Shiklam
In spite of his alleged romance with the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, former Vice-President Namadi Sambo seems to be on the radar of the anti-corruption agencies, especially, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). Just recently, the anti-corruption agency invaded one of his Kaduna residences located on Alimi Road, where they embarked on a thorough search of the house.
According to Samboâ€™s spokesman, Mallam Umar Sani, it was the fifth time the house was being searched in six months by the ICPC.
Days after the latest search, which occurred about two weeks ago, Sambo had raised the alarm over the persistent invasion of his house, maintaining that the frequent raid could be a plot to plant something incriminating against him.
Operatives of the commission had on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, stormed the house which is more like a guest house of the former Vice President and searched the place for two hours. The operatives were accompanied by heavily armed security personnel from the Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Special Anti-robbery Response Squad (SARS), who blocked all roads leading to the area and prevented other residents along the street from accessing their homes during the period the search lasted.
They were said to have arrived the house with a court order, authorising the search. A copy of the court order was said to have been handed over to the Chief Security Officer (CSO) at the residence, who allowed them in. But after two hours of search and alleged destruction of fittings and other valuables in the house, the operatives were said to have confirmed that nothing incriminating was found at the residence.
They further attested to this by signing at the back page of the copy of the court order that was given to the CSO. Sani, had while reacting to the incident, told THISDAY that the invasion of his bossâ€™ house was not news as it has been the practice by the commission in the past six months.
Sambo however maintained that in spite of the persistent invasion of his home by the anti-corruption agency, nothing incriminating was found against him, adding that the invasion was more of a plot to plant something incriminating in the house and have a reason to bring him in.
â€œAt the end of the whole exercise, the officers, who carried out the search were satisfied that nothing incriminating was found. As a law-abiding citizen, the former Vice-President did not raise any alarm in the previous invasions in view of the fact that he has nothing to hide.
â€œThe recent desperation exhibited by some security agencies in carrying out a raid on an unoccupied residence blocking all entry and exit points, in a commando-style and coming along with a bullion van speaks volume of the clandestine intention of the security operatives.
â€œIt is therefore worrisome to note that the consistency with which the searches occurred and the intervals between them portray a desire of a fault-finding mission. We are apprehensive that a repeat of such episode will not be surprising if an incriminating object is planted in his residence in order to willfully and deliberately incriminate him.
â€œIt is against this background that we wish to draw the attention of the unsuspecting members of the public to this phenomenon. The desperation of some of the security agencies is glaring by the number of times such searches were conducted and still counting. We hope it is not a way to try to give a dog a bad name in order to hang itâ€, the statement said.
Since he left office in 2015, Samboâ€™s Abuja home and office had been searched by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for incriminating files and documents. While serving as Vice-President, he was the Vice Chairman of the National Privatisation Council (NPC) and supervised the sale of strategic and critical national assets, especially within the power and rail transport sectors.
The Buhari administration is said to have been suspicious about the manner some of the contracts were awarded and many top officials of the Jonathan administration were being investigated for alleged corrupt practices. Observers are therefore of the view that the raids on Samboâ€™s home may have been informed by the role he played in the sale of some of the national assets.
But many Nigerians have criticised the manner in which the Buhari government is going about the fight against corruption, especially among some members of the opposition PDP. Mixed reactions immediately trailed the invasion of Samboâ€™s residence with many saying it had political undertone while some argued that Sambo had no political clout that could warrant being targeted.
Danjuma Sarki, the Kaduna State Youth Leader of the PDP told THISDAY that the frequent raids on Samboâ€™s house, like several others, are politically motivated. He alleged that the government was using the anti-corruption agencies to intimidate and weaken the opposition.
â€œI can say very clearly without an iota of doubt that the incessant raid on the former Vice Presidentâ€™s residence is nothing but a political weapon of vendetta aimed at silencing him. Not only him, but the members of the opposition in the country are being unnecessarily harassed because of the belief that as a former vice president, there is no way he would not have some corruption tied to him. They have been doing that many times without finding something against him, but they continued to do that in order to malign him and the PDP,â€ Sarki said in a telephone interview with THISDAY.
According to him, the Buhari administration and the APC have failed woefully and the anti-corruption agencies have become a tool in the hands of the government to use against the opposition.
â€œOur fear is that as we approach 2019, they may attempt to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. They are intimating people. If they invite you for any questioning, they know Nigerians are very gullible and they can crucify you at the slightest allegations made against you without any evidence or proof. I think this is a very sad situation in our country.
â€œThe anti-corruption agencies do their work very poorly without thorough investigation and they keep embarrassing people. They should be honourable enough to tender an apology to people that they did not find anything incriminating against them after arresting them or raiding their homes,â€ he said.
The PDP youth leader stressed that â€œdespite Samboâ€™s romance with some of the APC chieftains, I want him to know that they cannot protect his interest. They are looking for ways to tarnish his image and reputation.
â€œIf he will heed my advice, I will suggest that he should come out and play his role as an opposition leader so that we can rescue this country. Nigerians are looking up to people like him to find a direction for this country. He should not allow himself to be intimidated. He should speak out like other leaders,â€ Sarki added.
But the President of the Arewa Defence League and the spokesman of a faction of the Kaduna faction of the APC, popularly known as APC-Akida, Murtala Abubakar dismissed insinuation that the raid was politically motivated, because according to him, the former vice-president has no political value and therefore, it was wrong to make such insinuations.
â€œThere is no politics behind what happened. Nobody should insinuate political motive to the search on the former vice-presidentâ€™s residence, because Namadi Sambo has no political relevant. Even in Kaduna State, he has no political influence. When he served as a sitting vice-president, he could not influence anything in his home state. Is it now that he is not holding any position and he does not interact with anybody?
He just locks himself at home like a prisoner; everybody knows that he has no political value,â€ Abubakar said.
He, however, condemned the activities of the anti-corruption agencies, noting that their fight against corruption lacks strategy and mechanism for intelligence gathering, stressing that because of their ineffectiveness, they ended up embarrassing people.
â€œPersonally, I am not happy with the way they anti-corruption agencies are going about this so-called fight against corruption. The fight lacks strategy; it lacks tact and mechanism for intelligence gathering. That is why they always embark on fire brigade way of doing things and at the end the day, it backfires and there is nothing to show for it.
â€œThis happened in the case of Senator Goje and the judges, whose homes were raided by the EFCC among several others. At the end of the day, they were acquitted by the courts. So, you can see that essentially what the anti-corruption agencies do is just to traumatise and portray people in bad light.
â€œThey should be able to get concrete leads or water tight evidence before raiding homes or offices of individuals. Their actions appeared to be based on speculation and they go about raiding to get evidence, which in most cases they donâ€™t find. To me, it is true that the past administration did so bad in terms of looting the treasury, but you must have evidence before you bring them to book,â€ he said.
Abubakar also dismissed insinuations that Sambo was romancing the APC and maintained that his interaction with some APC personalities does not mean that he was romancing the party.
Samboâ€™s appearances at the birthday celebrations of the APC leader, Bola Tinubu, and his presence (on the invitation of Governor Nasir El-Rufai) at the recent commissioning of the Zaria Water Project had fueled speculations that he was planning to dump PDP for APC.
During the ceremony, Sambo had blamed the PDP administrations that succeeded him as governor of Kaduna State, including his estranged political godson, for abandoning the water project. Since he left office, Sambo seemed to be sliding into political oblivion. Sources believe he has remained aloof in the PDP in Kaduna State.
â€œWhen he came back from medical treatment abroad and we went to greet him in his Abuja home, he told us that he needed some rest and will not want to be involved in politics. Being a former Vice President, he is supposed to be one of our top ranking leaders in the PDP not only in Kaduna but the entire north, but he doesnâ€™t have that clout.
â€œHe doesnâ€™t command any followership. That is why you hardly see anyone coming out to condemn what the government is doing to him,â€ a prominent member of the PDP in Kaduna State, who pleaded anonymity told THISDAY.
Effort to get Saniâ€™s reaction on the issues was unsuccessful as he never called back as he promised when our correspondent contacted him on phone.