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2011 Elections: Why Iwu has to go

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For Nigerians home and abroad, this obviously is not the best of time. What with the sectarian carnage in the Plateau, the self-imposed constitution crisis and political chess game, the rot in the banking sector and most unfortunately, the dangerous drift to violence in the fight against corruption. In all the theatrical spectacles of absurdity playing itself out lately, the recent attack and killing of an innocent operative of the EFCC is the most senseless and totally unacceptable. As if the bizarre killing of people in Jos is not enough gashes on the psyche and moral sense of the nation, some elements under whatever guise decided to further drag the nation into an abyss of absurdity. This is most unfortunate.

Without mincing words, that singular act if not condemned at all levels are capable of entrenching an inimical precedence and a very dangerous dimension to the fight against corruption. It is apparently not a way to go about fighting the scourge which has since developed into an albatross under which the nation's growth and development cringed.

In the course of some seven years, the EFCC has gone through a serial of phases. At inception and through out the tenure of the erstwhile leadership, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, the perception was that of exuberance clad in gangsterism, abuse of human rights and reckless abandon to the rule of law just as the toga of selectivity held sway. But with the appointment of Farida Mzamber Waziri, a clear paradigm shift was expected and with all sense of responsibility she climbs the stage with a clear vision toward chatting a new course and approach to the anti-graft war. Being an adherent of government's position on the supremacy of the rule of law, in my candid opinion, she has been going about the crusade with total recourse to the law and respect of human rights. Suspects now enjoy fair trial going through due judicial processes with the Commission complying with court orders unlike previous experiences.

Besides, if one has to go by the position of the Head of Media and Publicity of the Commission, Mr. Femi Babafemi chronicling the scorecard of Waziri in the last two years, I am tempted to believe that the Commission has witnessed a lot of reforms both administratively and structurally. The Commission, more than ever before, seems to me, focused, committed and undaunted. According to the spokesperson, EFCC has recorded 80 convictions, and recovered $3billion in less than two years. To me, it has demonstrated courage to hold on to the struggle pursing all the cases with all the required vigor even against all odds. I recall vividly that in one of her public presentations, the EFCC Chairman said she had come up with a number of initiatives and strategies to lift the bar of the anti-graft war. Some of such was her quest for cooperation with the leadership of the NBA as well as the hiring of Senior Advocates of Nigeria,SANs, to match the strength of the defence counsel; sponsorship of assets forfeiture bill to deny the suspect the proceed of crime.

Other measures, she listed, include the establishment of special court to handle financial crimes cases which in her view will avail the country quick discharge of corruption cases leaving the people with the benefits of justice. The intervention of the commission in collaboration with the Central Bank and other regulatory agencies to salvage the banking sector with the recovery of over N300billion and the ongoing prosecution of over twenty bank executives and attachment of their assets valued at over N700billion is a landmark achievement which in my view is highly commendable. Therefore, strategic and pragmatic review of the approaches toward sustaining the crusade; and the prospects for consolidating on the gains of the anti-graft war, should be the interest of all and sundry not a drift to a dangerous dimension of violence that is capable of distracting the Commission.

As a keen observer, without any prejudice, I have taken time to painstakingly follow the committed and determined efforts of the EFCC. I am glad Waziri has come up to reassure the optimists amongst us that the battle must be won and that she is unperturbed by the attack on her men. It is sad to note that at this time and age, people can descend abysmally low to the extent of taking arms against the armless operatives who are just going about their duties. I think what should interest us at this point is how the Commission intends to pursue its cases in the courts with appropriate logistics to ensure the highest quality of legal representation, and with a view to gain public interest and the confidence of the citizenry and the judiciary in particular.

If indeed, Waziri as quoted in the dailies sometime ago is resolved to building an EFCC that will be world class, strong enough to stand the test of time and that will work within the rule of law; put up a preventive mechanism for economic crimes; track budget and proper application of public funds; break the link between tax evasion and money laundering/ terrorist financing, fight cybercrime and advance fee fraud through the smart use of technology and initiate legislative intervention, assets forfeiture and establishment of financial criminal courts, then, it would be unfair to want to distract or derail her vision for the Commission. And Of course, violence is not an option neither is it an impetus to promote the war.

It is imperative that we all mind the consequences of our actions. The all-pervasive corruption that has become a scourge to the nation remains an offshoot or better still it is a consequence of our past and immediate action and inaction. Violence can not build a better society. Disruption and disorder nourish repression, not justice.With the undaunted spirit of Farida Waziri even amidst all the frustrations and challenges, one cannot but be optimistic that the Commission would fulfill its billings under this leadership.

So much has been said on the need for collaboration. As the leadership of the Commission forges ahead with the crusade breaking new frontiers, evolving new strategies to take the battle to another height, it is imperative that we eschew all forms of cynicisms and acts capable of derailing the good course and effort of the commission. EFCC needs our support more than ever before otherwise the country and the vast majority of Nigerians would remain shortchanged. As most Nigerians have now come to understand from the bitter experience of our history, corruption is unmistakably the greatest challenge to our progress.

This is the major reason why, in spite of the cynical and hypocritical howling of politicians and their propagandists, citizens and institutions with the statutory power of scrutiny must not allow themselves to be intimidated to drop the ball. Waziri certainly deserves our support and encouragement.

Ibrahim Inuwa writes from Minna