• Anti-graft agency secures over 150 convictions in seven months, says Magu
Okon Bassey in Uyo and Laleye Dipo in Minna
A presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Attaihiru Bafarawa has alleged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is manned by unqualified professionals.
This is coming as the Acting Chairman, of the agency Ibrahim Magu, has said the commission secured no fewer than 150 convictions in seven months.
But the Akwa Ibom State Government yesterday cautioned that investors might be scared from the country if the federal government continues to use the anti-graft commission to threaten perceived political opponents.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Charles Udoh stated this while speaking with journalists in Uyo, the state capital, on the recent allegations by the EFCC that the N1.6 billion was traced to 11 accounts of the state government, as well as last week freezing of the account of the state.
Speaking to journalists yesterday in Minna, the Niger State capital, Bafarawa stated that the anti-graft agency adopted unprofessional approach in its assignments.
Bafarawa, who called for a total overhaul of the EFCC, said the agency had bungled most of its cases in courts and failed to complete in record time, its investigations.
“The way and manner the EFCC is carrying out its assignment is not the proper way. We must get qualified people to handle the assignments. EFCC is manned by unqualified people.
“The fight against corruption is not a thing we say with the mouth. The top must show a way; good example for the corruption fight to succeed”, Bafarawa said.
He accused the Nigerian politicians of turning politics into money making ventures; into a small scale industry, adding that “politicians have derailed from the path created by the late Ahmadu Bello.
Meanwhile, Magu has said EFCC secured no fewer than 150 convictions in seven months.
Magu made the disclosure yesterday at a stakeholder interactive session held at the Ibadan Zonal Office of EFCC.
He stated that the agency had ensured the prosecution of all corruption cases irrespective of how highly placed the culprit was.
‘‘For us at EFCC, we are driven by courage, integrity, professionalism and commitment to the common task of improving the lots of our people at the grassroots as we promote working partnership with all stakeholders,’’ he said.
The EFCC boss stressed that the agency had not and would not engage in a witch-hunt, adding that its activities were in line with international best practices.
‘‘In all that we do, we are guided first by the fear of God and patriotism to our fatherland and the rule of law.
‘‘I will continue to discharge my duties guided by fear of God, overriding interest of Nigeria and rule of law,’’ he said.
Magu, who stated that the commission had recorded notable achievements, added that it became accessible to Nigerians and had brought the anti-corruption campaign closer to the people.
The EFCC boss solicited the support of all stakeholders, saying the fight against corruption must be collective.
‘‘Like we all know, corruption is the number one problem that has militated against the development of Nigeria, especially the very poor at the grassroots.”
‘‘The havoc that corrupt practices has wrought on the Nigerian economy is, no doubt, endless.
‘‘This is why fighting it (corruption) to a standstill is not only a must but the only lifesaver for our country.
‘‘We must all join hands to kill corruption. We must fight this menace. There is no better time to prop up the anti-corruption campaign than now,’’ he said.
Magu said it was pertinent for all Nigerians to see themselves as stakeholders in the fight against corruption.
He called on journalists to see themselves as strategic partners in the fight against corruption and urged them to also expose corrupt practices around them.
Dolapo Dosunmu, the State Director of National Orientation Agency (NOA), who commended Magu for excellent performance, said the agency was making an impact in the country.
She called on all stakeholders to see the fight against corruption as a collective one that all must support.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the event was attended by labour unions, trade associations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and some anti-corruption organisations.
In a related development, the Akwa Ibom State Government has cautioned that investors might be scared from the country if the federal government continues to use the EFCC to threaten perceived political opponents.
Udoh argued that it is very alarming and glaring the way the APC-led government at the centre is using the anti-graft agency to witchhunt and chase the citizens ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Udoh expressed fear that if the federal government does not thread softly in applying the agency to fight corruption in the country, the aim of setting up the EFCC may rather be a curse to the country as its activities could retard the economy.
The commissioner said the agency has no substantive thing to say over the freezing of the state government account last week, describing the action as the height of illegality, impunity and insensitivity to the state, as there was no formal notice to that effect.
He insisted that the action of the EFCC to the state might be political stressing that the federal government could not deny not having a hand in the illegality.
“It was totally unconstitutional that EFCC not only frozen the account of the state, but without notice, prior communication and without following due process.
“It is worrisome, that is why we are calling on international communities, investor to join hands to condemn this act so that it would not occur again to Akwa Ibom state or any other state in the country.
“It is a major concern because if the rule of law is not regarded, if impunity becomes the order of the day, when the welfare of the citizenry is not taken into consideration, it is worrisome, where we are heading to as a country.
“We are concern and every well-meaning Nigerian should be, even international communities, investors doing business in Nigeria should be concern because it will definitely have negative impact on the economy of the country. It would erode the confidence of investors coming to Nigeria”, Udoh said.
On the allegation that N1.4 billion to 11 accounts belonging to the state government, the commissioner dismissed the allegation as total false, describing the state government under Governor Udom Emmanuel as thriving on integrity, transparency and accountability.