MIXED REACTIONS GREET EFCC'S REQUEST TO STOP CORRUPT POLITICIANS
Mixed reactions have greeted submission of a list of aspirants perceived to be corrupt by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to their parties for the purpose of stopping them from contesting in the 2011 elections.
Labour Party, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa-led Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and Orji Uzor Kalu Presidential Campaign Organisation (OUK 2011) among others faulted EFCC's approach, describing it as arm twisting.
They said though they would want those known to have looted the treasury barred from elections , they, however, disagreed with the EFCC on the method it adopted.
The parties argued that EFCC had no power to advise any party to disallow any of its members from contesting because it is a matter of law, which gives right to anyone who qualifies to contest.
Besides, it was their contention that an accused was deemed innocent until when pronounced guilty by a law court hence the futility in the EFCC's mission.
National Chairman of Labour Party, Chief Dan Nwayanwu whose former governor of Ekiti State and Senatorial aspirant, Ayo Fayose, was said to be one of those whose ambitions the EFCC wanted to be cut short, argued that much as the party would not condone corruption in any form, it would also not subscribe to the often adopted trial on newspaper pages as a basis for disqualification of aspirants.
He explained that the EFCC's move would amount to a throw back to pre-2007 era when the EFCC forwarded a list of those to be axed to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and sparked confusions, which detracted from the smooth conduct of the election.
In its own reaction, the ANPP pointed out that the decision of EFCC underscored the call by the party for speedy trial of all those alleged o have helped themselves with state resources, wondering why EFCC had allowed itself to be dragged backward and now running against the time.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Emmanuel Eneukwu, told Daily Sun that much as the intention of the EFCC was a welcome development, it would look as if it was assuming the role of the judiciary by regarding the politicians as corrupt when cases against them were yet to be decided by the courts.
National Chairman of PRP and Chairman of Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa commended the EFCC for even making the move to have the suspected thieves stopped from aspiring to go back to continue looting the nation. However, he cautioned that EFCC should not be misconstrued as usurping the function of judiciary.
'The EFCC under the law cannot stop anybody from contesting. Those they are seeking to bar are only being tried on the basis of allegations. They have not been found guilty. Only the courts can find them guilty. What EFCC can do is to go to court and seek to stop them, not through the parties. How can the parties stop any of its members from contesting? It can only happen in a party where there is no internal democracy.
'I think we should support EFCC, it's just that the Commission has not been moving fast enough before now. But honestly speaking, those people should not be allowed to go and continue their looting, that will be unbearable for Nigerians. But the truth is, EFCC can't stop them from contesting,' he stated.
The Orji Uzor Kalu Presidential Campaign Organisation (OUK 2011) condemned alleged arm twisting tactics of the incumbent administration as demonstrated by the stifling of the opposition, using the anti-corruption agencies that were originally meant to protect national interest.
Director-General of the OUK 2011, Chief Willy Ezugwu, said his organisation was appalled that the name of its presidential aspirant, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, came up in the advisory list released by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
'It is important to remind the EFCC and their paymaster in the 2011 election that the constitution has no provision for barring a person who is standing trial from offering himself/herself for service. This tactics of using the EFCC as the attack dog for scaring away perceived opponents from contesting run contrary to the promises of free and fair elections as the freedom to contest is one of the bases for judging the openness of a contest.'
The Director General advised the INEC and other players in the 2011 general elections to familiarize themselves with the legislative and legal requirements for the elections so that the states and entire country is not again set back by deluge of validly nominated but unlawfully excluded candidates as was the outcome of the witch hunting foray of past administration into the elections of 2007.
'The best way of disqualifying anyone who is standing trial is through the votes of the electorates who can massively rejected anyone they decide is below their moral expectations regardless of whether the court is yet to convict the person.
'We urge Progressive Peoples' Alliance members and all the supporters of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu not to discourage by the antics of the EFCC and its paymaster. Dr Kalu has been able to grow his business empire despite the hostile obstacles that the power cabal in Nigeria has placed on his path and he can use the same maverick to turn the country around when given the opportunity.
'We will loudly and strongly reject any attempt to narrow the political space using the EFCC or any other anti corruption agency. Regardless of the EFCC 'adversary' list, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu will take part in the Presidential election come 2011 and he will triumph. Yes! It's possible', he concluded.