IF THERE any time the Eco- nomic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has come under severe public criticism and scrutiny, it is under the APC-led government of Muhammadu Buhari. The anti graft agency has carved a niche for itself as a body that employs perceptions, insinu- ations and emotions in arrest- ing and prosecuting perceived corrupt people, especially those from the opposition. Members of the opposition, es- pecially the PDP have been hunt- ed and hounded down by the of- ficials of the EFCC even without evidence of prosecuting the case in court. Recently, for instance, the EFCC lost four of its prominent cases against former First Lady, Patience Jonathan; Justice Ad- eniyi Ademola and his wife, Olabowale; a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Joe Agi and a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godsday Orubebe. A Federal High Court in Lagos had at the instance of the EFCC last year frozen Mrs. Jonathan’s Skye Bank account containing $5.9m, an amount perceived by the agency to be proceeds of cor- ruption.
The freeze order was pursuant to an ex parte application by the anti- graft agency, wherein one of its op- eratives, Abdulahi Tukur, had told Justice Mojisola Olatoregun that the said account should be frozen in the interest of justice. But in its ruling recently, the court vacated its freeze order on the for- mer First Lady’s account, leaving some Nigerians to wonder whether investigations leading to the freez- ing of the account were not political in any form and whether the anti- graft agency had carried out its due diligence in the first place. Just before the euphoria of the court judgement could die down, the government agency made an- other chilling recovery of $43m, N23m and £27,000 in cash at a ser- vice apartment located at the Os- borne Towers, Ikoyi in Lagos state. While the body should be com- mended for such a recovery, it still leaves a sore taste that up till now, the identity of the owner of the funds is yet to be ascertained. Of course, it is becoming more worri- some that an anti graft agency such like the EFCC could made such a huge discovery without going the extra length to find out those be- hind it. It is indeed a sad commentary that such a huge sums of money could be kept in an apartment in a country where many family can- not feed on two square meals; in a country where the current eco-nomic recession is steering many families on the face. Unfortunately, people like the Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi; former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Adamu Muazu and the sacked Managing Director at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mrs Esther Nnamdi-Og- bue have been fingered as owners of the cash, but they have all denied knowledge of the money. Surprisingly, the Gover- nor of Rivers State, Nye- som Wike claimed that the money belongs to his state. Wike said investigations by the state government revealed that the money was pro- ceed from the sale of gas turbines by the immediate past Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, who he claimed also owned the Ikoyi build- ing. He therefore called on federal government to return the funds within seven days or face legal ac- tion. According to Wike, “If you recol- lect in 2015, we said that gas tur- bines built by former Governor Peter Odili were sold to Sahara En- ergy, business partners of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi at $319million. “That money was used to spon- sor the All Progressives Congress for the 2015 general elections. From the date of sale of the gas turbines to May 29, 2015, the money depleted from $319million to $204,000. What was stashed at the Ikoyi residence was part of that fund”. In a swift reaction, Rotimi Amae- chi has refuted the claims that the $43m found in a luxury apartment in Ikoyi by the EFCC belonged to him. The former governor said he has no business, link or connection to the money or property and that he does not know who owns the money or the apartment, contrary to the claims of his successor, Nye- som Wike. Nigerians are now asking: Is there a cover up by EFCC to deliberately shield the identity of the real own- ers? Why is the anti graft agency finding it difficult toconduct prop- er investigation before coming to the public to dazzle us with huge amounts? Could the real owners possibly be members of the APC? As an organ of government sad- dled with the responsibility of car- rying out detailed investigation, is the body not duty bound to get its facts right before rushing to court for prosecution? In fact, its inability to do the right
thing before the eyes of the law has not only damaged Nigeria’s image locally and internationally, but has also make a mockery of the anti corruption fight by the Buhari’s government. Instead of the Minister of In- formation and Culture, Lai Mo- hammed to tell Nigerians who owns the billions recovered at the Ikoyi apartment, he was busy di- verting attention by saying that looters of public funds now bury money in cemeteries and in deep forests. For goodness sake, Nigerians are not inter- ested on where the money is being buried; they are more in- terested on those behind it. In an ex-parte application filed by the EFCC through its counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, the body has prayed the court that the funds be forfeited to the federal government pend- ing investigation. Unlike other recoveries made, the govern- ment agency owes Nigerians and indeed the international community the duty to unravel those behind the large sums of money recovered at the Ikoyi apartment. Anything short of this would certainly amount to another wild-goose chase by the EFCC.


SHARE