EFCC and Politrics: As it was in the beginning…!

By ike muo

If Prof Utomi agrees to supervise me, I will go for another doctoral degree on Institutions and Economic Development and write my thesis on The mediating effect of political activities on the perceived effectiveness of EFCC with the key hypothesis as: There is a significant and positive relationship between political activities and the perceived effectiveness of EFCC. I have peeped into the bag with the proverbial eye of an elder and I can declare without equivocation subject to my supervisor’s concurrence, that the above topic is researchable and that it will contribute immensely to knowledge in the field of governance and political economy. But that’s by the way.

On 4/3/07, the Lagos Justice, Peace and Development Commission, invited me to speak on EFCC: Democracy’s best friend or worst enemy, as a part of its 2007 Annual Week. For those who might have forgotten, OBJ established the EFCC in 2003 to underline his declaration that it would no longer be business as usual in the war against corruption. But as at 2007, there was a consensus that EFCC had derailed largely because it redefined its mandate to became the koko (key player) in the political landscape. It was involved in impeachments, disqualification of candidates, and determination of the kind of leaders Nigeria needed. It also appropriated judicial powers and became an arm of the amorphous presidency. The EFCC became an impeachment consultant and enforcer in Bayelsa where legislooters served impeachment notice on the Governor General of Ijaw nation from EFCC cell in Lagos; in Jos where only 6 were empowered to impeach the governor, in Ekiti where it ended up in state of emergency and in Adamawa where it failed to click.

The EFCC also did a lot of summersaults and suffered from selective amnesia especially as it affected the probe of IBB, the number of corrupt governors which was as the spiritdirected, screening of political aspirants, whether Ebeano Nnamani was corrupt or not, and whether to act only on petitions, on allegations or as directed. Of course its star war was against Atiku, which extended to his tenants, classmates, his newspaper vendors and just anybody. I narrowly escaped being probed just because I went on an excursion to his American University of Nigeria in Yola. The EFCC’s record on rule of law was woeful as it detained people as it pleased ( or as it pleased the master), treated court orders with contempt, convicted people whose cases were not even in court and worse of all, it was an illegal offspring as it started operations before it was legalized. It also became short or long sighted depending on who was involved. Thus it did not notice the COJA contracts, El-Rufai’s indictment by the NASS, petitions against Kwankwso, or the embarrassing 3rd term bribery. Its list of death (a list of banned politicians) showed EFCC at its best: there were many versions of the list; some already in court for corruption were not on the list while some not yet charged to court made the list, including those indicted by OBJs panel even while the courts had not made pronouncements. Of course, Atiku was the numero-unoon the list, which formed the bases of INECs questionable disqualifications and the political rigmarole of 2007.

In the aforesaid 2007 paper, I called some witnesses, including Senator Nnamani who declared that the war against corruption as lopsided, warning that no corrupt politician is more important than the other!; Human Rights Watch which declared that the anti-corruption efforts had lost much of their credibility because the EFCC selectively indicted some candidates and not others whom it has acknowledged as meriting investigation; Vincent Obia who reminded us how EFCC radar eluded Andy Uba, despite his confessions that money was illegally deployed to rig elections in Anambra State (Sunday Independent ,3/3/05) and peter Clever Opara who drew a parallel between the hounding roles of Napoleon’s dogs as he strived for unfettered power in the Animal Kingdom and the role of the EFCC in subverting the laws of the land to please its master?(Sunday Independent 11/2/07 pB12). Other witnesses included Abukakar Tsave who argued that since the politicians did not follow due process in their lootocracy, there was no need for EFCC to follow due process in dealing with them but advised Ribadu totalk less, work more and leave the job of pronouncing his victims guilty to the courts(TheNews, 26/6/06); Atiku Abubakar who lamented that while EFCC claimed it was investigating Jefferson, the name did not appear at all in its final report while he ( Atiku) was mentioned 19 times, concluding that ..EFCC has become a willing tool in the hands of my traducers!(TheNews, 2/10/06,p22). The Sun condemned the undue bravado and arbitrariness which the EFCC has brought to bear on its job… as it has expanded its operational horizon… prosecutes and passes judgments… and noted particularly that it was relying on the PTDF report which had been set aside by 3 courts..(TheSunEditorial,12/2/07) Femi Adesina was the Editor in chief then . Chief Umezeoke, Chairman of Buhari’s ANPP accused the EFCC of being pliable tool in the hands of the ruling party, drawing global attention to the conscienceless double standard in which Goodluck Jonathan, no 9 in the original EFCC list was eventually forgiven and canonized, an accusation endorsed by ANPP when it declared that EFCC has been turned into a haunting dogagainst PDP opponents (Vanguard, 8/2/07,p15). In the opinion of The Nation, the EFCC turned itself into the policeman detailed to go after the presidents enemies... Its harshest criticism was for Ribadu who carried his functions with messianic airs and carriage of a monarch who has the power of life and death…highly unmindful of the dictates of the law (Editorial, 22/3/07)

With all these evidences, I indicted EFCC for leaving the economic/financial field and positioning itself in the 18 yard box of the political pitch, creating the indelible impression that it was an instrument of presidential warfare, engaging in self-destructive double talks, forgetting some issues while working overtime on others and forming an unholy alliance with INEC. I concluded that EFCC had done more harm to the political process; heightening the political tension and polluting the usually troubled political waters and that it could therefore not be a friend to democracy! That was in 2007

11 years later and as we enter another electoral season, I was reminded of my 2007 paper by the recent statement ( 22/5/18) of Victor Uwaje, special anti-corruption investigator, that he was fired for refusing to go after Atiku, Saraki, Wike, and Ekweremadu . This surely sounds similiar? EFCC has suddenly become very active again, with some of its regular customers like Patience Jonathan, Shakarau, Jang and Olisa Metu who handcuffed like dangerous and unrepentant criminal. It has also decided to conduct a forensic examination of OBJs power projects just because PMB asked: where is the power ( and this is 11 years after it had probed OBJ). EFCC also has newer customers like Eze Iyamu, Lucky Imasuen, Gamawa, and Yaro. But before then, Lai Mohammed, usurping the power of the judiciary, released a list of looters, including those who are yet to be accused and excluding Mrs Madueke, the Government had been haranguing for the past three years,. Uzor Kalu who is on trial and Lawal, the grass-cutter who had been sacked on account of corruption. Of course, the PDP released its own list and it is left for the reader to compare the two lists. It is also alleged that EFCC has deployed its operatives to intimidate and harass contractors handling projects in some PDP-controlled states. We are now in the era of politics of arrest( Comrade Odeyemi 18/6/18) or according to PDP, a police state where any Nigerian, who holds a divergent view to PMBs 2019 re-election bid, becomes endangered..

One can safely conclude that as it was in the beginning,(2007) so it is now(2018) and, shall we allow it to continue to be so? But as a doctoral student in this area, I have made some critical observations. EFCC still has issues with legality. It started operations before it was legalized and today, the EFCC boss is on duty without his appointment being duly legalized. In 2007, PDP was in charge and others were complaining. Today, APC is in charge and PDP is the leading complainant, reminding us that no condition is permanent. Furthermore, the Police, is more active today than before. Those whom the EFCC has nothing against or is not eager to go after, the police steps in and all of them are involved in murder/gun-running (Shehu Sani, Dino Melaye and Bukola Sariki) and more of such charges should be expected. I hope I will not soon be charged with the murder of Dele Giwa. In 2007, it was the list of death and today, it is the looters list and both lists raised more questions than answers. The most important lesson is that those who create and manipulate institutions for self-serving purposes, may one day become victims of such institutions, just like the person who rides atop a tiger ending up in its belly.

Meanwhile, Inaki Urdangarin , the brother-in-law of Spain's King Felipe VI, has just( on June 12!) been sentenced by the Spanish Supreme Court to a five-year+ prison sentence for corruption. We also remember what the small girl prosecutor or investigator did to Jacob Zuma who is already in court a few weeks after he was ousted. When shall we get THERE in our own war against corruption, rather than rejoicing that a first-line court has just jailed two members of the class of 2007, 11 years after their trial commenced.

Ik Muo, PhD. writes from Department of Business administration, OOU, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State

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