Efcc Icpc: A Tool For Witch Hunt

by Bolaji Aregbeshola

When former president Olusegun Obasanjo established the EFCC and ICPC, everyone including the international community applauded him for taking the fight against corruption in Nigeria seriously. But soon, it became clear that Obasanjo established the two anti-graft agencies to punish his political opponents.

Many top government officials including Chief Alamieyeseigha and Tafa Balogun were arraigned by the EFCC and ICPC during the Obasanjo administration. Most of these ex-officials were arraigned, arrested and detained for stepping on the toes of the then president. And this was the reason why the former EFCC boss, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was accused of selectivity in his fight against corruption.

There is no doubt that Ribadu acted on the directives of his boss, Obasanjo who dictated what happened at any given time. Ribadu nevertheless got the nod from the international community for his giant stride in the fight against corruption even though he was selective but unknown to Ribadu, he had also stepped on the toes of some politicians and this led to his eventual removal as the EFCC boss.

It was obvious that the Yar’ Adua administration was out to punish Ribadu when he was sent to the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) for a course and eventually relived of his job. As if that was not enough, he was also demoted from AIG to DCP by the Police Service Commission (PSC) and this marked the beginning of a legal battle between Ribadu, the IGP and the PSC.

But when there were consistent death threats to the life of Ribadu, he decided to go into exile in order to protect himself. Ever since Ribadu left the shores of the country, he has been declared wanted on several occasions on allegations of corruption against him during his tenure as the chairman of the EFCC. The first was the non-declaration of his assets while in office as the EFCC chair and the other was the alleged house he bought in London, Dubai and Abuja for N200 million.

Recently, Ribadu has been in the news again. This time around not for prosecution but for a possible appointment under the Goodluck Jonathan Acting Presidency. Jonathan’s visit to Ribadu while on a Nuclear Summit in the U.S confirmed speculations that Ribadu is being persuaded to come back home. His anticipated return is not just to continue his efforts at reducing corruption but to achieve the aim of some power brokers in their bid to ensuring that Jonathan becomes the President come 2011.

In preparation for this home coming by Ribadu, it was reported that the powers that be have dropped all the charges against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. This once again confirm the abuse of power by Nigerian leaders and the use of EFCC and ICPC as a tool for some powerful politicians to witch-hunt their enemies. The $40m siemens scandal involving the wife of ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar was also reported to be due for re-investigation by the anti-graft agencies because of Atiku’s declaration of interest in the 2011 presidential election.

The most recent witch-hunt by the powers that be is that of the chairman of the PDP, Price Vincent Ogbulafor. Ogbulafor is perceived to be a stumbling block to the Jonathan presidency in 2011, hence, the plot to get him out of the way by re-opening allegations of corruption against him. What is most worrisome is that the EFCC and ICPC were all along aware of Ogbulafor’s alleged involvement in a N40 million scam during Obasanjo’s tenure when he served as a minister but he was not arraigned. This allegation according to reports was leveled against him between 2004 and 2006 but it took Ogbulafor’s pronouncement that Jonathan will not be given the party’s presidential ticket in the 2011 elections for this allegation to be re-opened. He had perhaps been dancing to the whims and caprices of those shielding him from facing prosecution and now that he is no longer pursuing their interest, he is being made to face prosecution.

In fact, I do not pity Ogbulafor because what goes around comes around. He however cannot deny ever having conspired with those that are after him to subvert the will of the people of Nigeria. I think the time has come for him to face the full wrath of the law for his unscrupulous behaviour. The former Minister of Special Duties, former PDP National secretary and the soon to be booted out Chairman of PDP was also accused of not possessing a discharge certificate by NYSC. It is amazing how most Nigerian leaders emerge without meeting the necessary requirements.

It was also gathered that the revisiting of corruption allegation against former Governor of Delta State Chief James Ibori by the EFCC is because he and some other politicians from the South-South are against Jonathan’s ambition for 2011. The recent declaration by the EFCC that Chief Ibori is wanted was intended to keep him away from opposing Jonathan.

Jonathan’s abuse of power and the use of the anti-graft agencies for political reasons are definitely not good for the country. This is also the reason why the president must not keep appointing the INEC chairman as recommended by the Justice Uwais report. It is clear that past and present presidents have been able to influence the EFCC and ICPC because these agencies are under the presidency.

The reason adduced by the AGF and Minister of Justice, Mr. Bello Adoke for the withdrawal of charges against Ribadu is not tenable but it is quite laughable. The AGF’s move is no doubt in furtherance of his boss’s agenda just like the former AGF, Mike Andooaka who pursued Yar’ Adua’s move to punish Ribadu with vigour and prevent some ex-Governors from prosecution. How can the AGF discontinue from any case because he is the Chief Law Officer of the nation? Mr. Bello Adoke should not allow himself to be used for political reasons. The unprofessional conduct of his learned colleague and predecessor, Mike Andooaka and his victimization for the abuse of the rule of law is a lesson to the new AGF even though he is not the culprit but he might end up in Mike Andooaka’s predicament if he allows himself to be used to break the law.

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