EFCC vs. Kalu: Looking Beyond Slander, but Truth…

It was Abraham Lincoln who said that Truth is generally the best
vindication against slander. With the Economic and Financial Crime
Commission’s (EFCC) renewed efforts to curb corruption in the country,
Nigerians are not doubtful about the seriousness of the agency. It has
shown that the war against corruption is endless. It has been doing this by
arraigning ex-governors, bank chiefs, inter alia in different courts for
allegedly embezzling public funds while they were in office. Nigerians are
told that those fingered embezzled money to the tone of billions. The
agency arraigns those arrested before pressmen, giving their arrests wide
coverage, before arraigning them before any court. As a result, Nigerians
have been mangled with pity. And calls for the immediate incarceration of
such leaders have been made, even before any competent court could hear
their cases.

The entranced Nigerians showed their mettle on Friday April 27, 2012, when
the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, granted that a suit against former
governor of Abia state, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu brought to it by the EFCC would
be retried. All the online discussion forums since then had sent Kalu to
the gulag because the EFCC had long clogged on their psych with its media
trajectory hostilities against Kalu. And the persona dramatis had replied
that he remained stoical.

The EFCC made Kalu a culprit whereas no court has said so, which is against
the Nigerian judicial notion which says that a suspect remains innocent
till convicted by any court of competent jurisdiction. This is even when
the Abia State High Court had on May 31, 2007 issued a motion on the
matter: the Federal High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the case.
Hence, Kalu’s fundamental human rights were trampled with his arrest,
detention, and arraignment over four years ago.

Kalu, without doubt, was a politician who had established very well,
businesswise, before he was elected to be governor in 1999. Slok Nigeria
Ltd and his conglomerates of business were established before 1996. It’s on
record that the Peoples Democratic Party is his brainchild, a party that
was formed in his room, and he gave the party about Five Hundred Million
naira (N500, 000, 000) cash during one of the party’s events leading to the
buildup of 1999 elections. Kalu was not governor then, but he coughed out
this huge sum of money. Is this not evidence that he was already rich
before he was governor?

But Nigerians wouldn’t see that because a Justice had ‘unanimously ruled
and read’ in the Kalu’s case that he should be retried, forgetting that it
was a reprobated one to humiliate Kalu on behalf of the EFCC. All and
sundry forgot that the EFCC disobeyed a court order on July 27, 2007
and arraigned Kalu before an Abuja High court and celebrated a 107 count charge on him.

To draw the people’s sympathy, the EFCC told Nigerians in a well circulated
media coverage that he was arraigned of “money laundering, official
corruption and criminal diversion of public funds totaling over five
billion.” Continue to name them. Is this not a case of giving a dog a bad
name in order to kill her? The EFCC criminalized Kalu when the agency
cannot boast of any genuine document to substantiate its claim.

The disrespectful EFCC even relegated the ordinance of the then President
Musa Yar’Adua, in a reply to Kalu’s letter of August 5, 2007, urging him
(Yar’Adua) to order the EFCC to discontinue the trial, complaining that the
Commission failed to obey a May 31, 2007 Abia State High Court order for
stay of proceedings pending the determination of a motion before it.
Through the then Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mike Aondoaaka,
Yar’Adua said that the Abia High Court ruling would be respected. But, did
EFCC respect that court ruling? It did not!

Does it not take clean hands to go before equity? Does it not take absolute
morality to expose absolute immorality? So, where is the EFCC’s morality to
fight corruption when it can’t respect court orders? That it was said that
the EFCC Establishment Act and the Money laundering and Prohibition Act,
(MPLA, 2003, 2004) had given the Commission power to prosecute offenders
and that the EFCC derives its aptitude to prosecute from section 6 and 7 of
its Establishing Act, the definition of economic crime was supposed to be
succinct, instead of “quite wide” as was expressed by those who wanted Kalu
maligned by all means necessary and unnecessary.

In the same manner the EFCC had been disobeying court orders with a
Justice’s declaration that “economic crime was quite wide” the agency as
well, didn’t respect the September 3, 2007 motion filed by Kalu at the
Abuja High Court asking for an order to strike out all EFCC charges against
him and to resign from the terms and conditions of the bail earlier granted
by the court. This was evidence in the September 5, 2007 hearing of the
Kalu’s motion, an attorney from the then AGF’s office appearing for
Aondoakaa, urged the court to comply with the Abia High Court ruling, a
saying that irked the EFCC lawyer and the EFCC clashed with the Justice
Minister’s representative.

Any person saying that the Abia High Court order was intended to protect
Kalu from prosecution and that the Appeal Court ruling had exposed the
position of the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of
Justice, Michael Andoakaa, was just being biased and teleguided. This is
the view of detractors who want to see Kalu pulled down by all means
because he is Igbo? During his period of stewardship as governor, a
president from the Yoruba ethnic group used the same EFCC and confiscated
virtually all his businesses. His airline, a bank he had a greater share in
was impounded, among others. Conversely, Kalu said that notwithstanding the
verdict of the Court of Appeal that he is just being witch-hunted for being
vocal and always contribute his own opinion to any Nigerian discourse
without seeking any premeditated advise from those who feel that they are
powers that be.

Is the EFCC aware that Kalu remains unshaken in his position, because said
that he did not pilfer the public coffer? So, is the EFCC tampering with
the common Human Rights of Kalu for his decisions to stand against some
people whom he said were bent on tarnishing the country while they were in
power? It is imperative that this EFCC works on facts instead of on
fiction. Did investigations not reveal that Kalu received N2.8 billion? Was
this amount not the eight year Security Vote he received as then Governor
of Abia State, whereas their EFCC is bloating the world with the tale that
Kalu stole N5 billion? Can the EFCC tell what this amount N5 billion is
for? Can the agency prove itself right with facts and figures instead of
compounding its claim that Kalu was charged for “money laundering, official
corruption and criminal diversion of public funds totaling over five
billion”?

Using preposterous media war to draw public sympathy is not good for EFCC
or using the powers that say they are to fight perceived opposition
politicians is nonsensical in this titular and one-sided fight against
corruption in Nigeria. People of Abia State have not hidden their voice
that Kalu’s records and his achievements speak for themselves while he was
governor of Abia State to demonstrate that he did not take the people’s
money. The problem now is that as Kalu has said that he was prepared to
prove his innocence, whether the EFCC was also ready, without engaging its
media machinery against Kalu for Nigerians

to still hope that it is
working, which media machinery has been fingered is sponsored by a governor
in the South-East and some Igbo sons and daughters at the seat of power in
Abuja. They are afraid, saying that Kalu poses a threat to them because of
the 2015 elections; hence they want him down with libelous tendencies.

Such acts pose great dangers in a democracy. The EFCC should stop bringing
itself to the gallery always with its “media trial” of Kalu. The president
in whose time the agency was formed is still working the street of the
world a free man, yet the EFCC continued to do eyesright on him of any
corrupt practice while in office, but Kalu. One comment that every Nigerian
should hold Kalu seriously against the EFCC is: “Let the EFCC prove that I
am guilty based on facts and figures and not just mentioning ridiculous
figures it claimed I stole to draw public sympathy…” Nigerians should also
watch this EFCC closely if it is not indeed longing for public commendation
that it is working assiduously by debasing the name of Kalu, because from
Kalu’s “over-publicised arrest” in the past, even when he was always
available, the EFCC created lies and fabricated a feeling that he was on
the run from the Commission to forestall arrest.

For this reason, the unwarranted negative publicity the EFCC always gives
Kalu should be a pointer to Nigerians who have always shouted when it hears
the EFCC’s verbalization of the amount of money it says that Kalu stole
that the agency has no fact to sustain its ‘insults’ against Kalu; it is
just massaging the wishes of those perceived were behind it against Kalu
always, like a hunter-dog. Has Kalu not said that he is waiting for the
EFCC to prove its case? Like Abraham Lincoln would say, Truth is generally
the best vindication against slander.

Written by
Odimegwu Onwumere
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