Nigeria At 50: Waziri Seeks More Support For War Against Graft
San Francisco, Oct 01, (THEWILL) - As the nation marks its golden jubilee anniversary, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri has enjoined all Nigerians to be more steadfast and resolute in the fight against corrupt practices. She gave this charge on Thursday while fielding questions from journalists in her office. She noted that Nigeria ’s attainment of fifty years as a united nation was a significant and epochal achievement and urged all Nigerians to enlist in the anti-graft war to place the nation in the comity of developed nations of the world.
"We have every reason to celebrate. I agree that at 50, the level of corruption is very high, it is endemic. Everybody has accepted that this country would have been greater, as great as the United States of America, Great Britain or China but for corruption. This therefore poses a challenge to every Nigerian to join in the anti-corruption war to make Nigeria the nation of our dreams," she said.
Waziri admonished the corrupt in Nigeria to have a re-think and embrace a new life of accountability, transparency and integrity, saying that corruption has drawn the nation back too tragically. "Corruption has affected us too negatively. It is very destructive. Those who are corrupt should have a new focus. It is wrong to amass wealth at the expense of the people," she stressed. She justified the EFCC’s determined bid to stop those being tried for any act of corruption from seeking elective positions in the 2011 elections, stressing that the Commission is empowered to take preventive measures.
Quoting Section 6(f) f the EFCC’s Establishment Act dealing with "adoption of measures which include coordinated, preventive and regulatory actions, introductions and maintenance of investigated and control techniques on the prevention of economic and financial related crimes" and Section 6 [j] dealing with "collaborating with government bodies both within and outside Nigeria carrying on functions wholly or in part analogous with those of the Commission", Waziri stressed that the EFCC was not breaking any law in this respect.
She also explained that in keeping to the legality of ensuring that only credible people are allowed to contest elections in 2011, she would not be deterred or scared by any threats whatsoever by anyone. "I’m not scared. We will do our job and ensure that we operate within the ambit of the law. Whatever anyone says or threatens to do does not matter at all. I can’t be scared", she declared.
The anti-graft czar cleared the air on the sealing off of two properties belonging to the former governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayo Fayose. She said that one of the sites of the two properties in Ibadan, Oyo state was a mere parcel of land before Fayose became the governor but claimed that there were mansions already on the empty parcel of land in his Asset Declaration form. "We had a court order that was complied with to the letter.
The properties were sealed off in 2006 on the strength of the order but were broken into in breach of the order. It is true that we received a letter concerning the order but we had already taken action to seal off the properties through our Lagos Office before the letter arrived. So, it is wrong to allege political persecution on this score".
Waziri reiterated her calls for the establishment of Special Courts to try corruption cases, stressing that such courts would assist in clearing the backlog of cases awaiting resolution in various courts across the country.
On her reported meeting with the leadership of the PDP, she was it was part of her consultations with relevant stakeholders on how to ensure that the corrupt elements are not given the benefit of constitutional immunity while they are yet to discharge corruption charges pending against them in the courts.
She said she will continue the meeting with other political parties after the independence anniversary celebrations.