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By NBF News
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The increasing relevance of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the screening of aspirants for positions in the 2011 polls might be the reason operatives of the commission are becoming prime target of assailants.

At the last count, no fewer than five of its operatives have been attacked by unknown persons at different locations. The hierarchy of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has promised to work very closely with the EFCC in the process of screening its aspirants as a way of stopping crooks from contesting the elections.

Other political parties are also planning to subject their aspirants to the EFCC integrity test. But some aspirants are already uneasy over the hard stance of the commission and they are apparently determined to ensure it is not in a good position to scuttle their ambition.

A source in the anti-graft agency, however, noted that 'the threat is not new to the commission,' adding: 'The leader of a group identified as 'ASAB' had once threatened to bomb the EFCC, National Assembly and some government parastatals. But we know it is the EFCC that they are actually targeting because of the relevance that we are assuming ahead of the elections. We have a dossier on all those standing trial or had been previously indicted and we have promised to share information with the leadership of the parties.'

The source lamented that the threat appears targeted at operatives of the commission.

'It is unfortunate the manner they go about it. They claim they have informants even within the security service. While we can say that it is an empty boast, we are not taking it lightly, especially with the manner some of our people are being killed.

The unfortunate effect of that was that people in the security service no longer trust themselves as they don't know who is who again,' the source said, adding that the terror alert the commission sent out was real.

'The text message sent to media houses was real. It is to scare our people but we are unrelenting. We are undeterred. We know those behind it and what their motive is and we are monitoring things.'

The source added: 'We are also aware that apart from politicians, some people in the corporate world are unhappy with the subtle but firm manner we are pursuing those corrupt in the banks and the corporate world. They are also trying to get at us.' According to the EFCC operative, the whole brouhaha about bombing could be to create an atmosphere of insecurity and chaos ahead of the election.

'You know an average Nigerian politician can be very desperate. We are also looking at the possibility of some opposition politicians trying to heat up the polity to create an atmosphere of insecurity and use it as campaign issue later.'

EFCC spokesman, Femi Babafemi, however said the commission was not losing sleep over the ASAB threat.

'We have overhauled our security system and any visitor to our office will notice that. We have also beefed up our intelligence gathering machinery. That was why I said we are on the trail of those people issuing the threat. I am confident we will get them soon,' he said.