Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, on Wednesday, described as baffling and worrisome, the decision of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to deny the title of Anti – Corruption Ambassador, bestowed on him by an official of the agency on Tuesday.
Ekweremadu in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr. Uche Anichukwu, explained that the EFCC denial which was contained in a statement by its spokesperson, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, was most unfortunate.
The statement reads, ” We want to put it on record that the EFCC Liaison Officer to the National Assembly, Mr. Suleiman Bakari, and his team, applied for and subsequently paid a courtesy call on the Deputy President of the Senate in his Office on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.
“Mr. Bakari, amongst other issues he raised, solicited the support of the Senate and National Assembly towards the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration, and even presented a frame with a bold picture of President Muhammadu Buhari, bearing the inscription: “If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”.
“Mr. Bakari also, on behalf of the Acting Chairman, management, and staff of the EFCC decorated Senator Ekweremadu as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador of the EFCC.
“It is also a fact that the visit and decoration was captured in both pictures and video.”
It also faulted the claim by the EFCC spokesperson that the agency has never and could not have decorated anybody as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador, since, according to him, “the Commission is not in the habit of awarding titles to individuals.”
It added,”We wish to refer him (Uwujaren,) to December 7, 2007, when the Nuhu Ribadu-led EFCC conferred the Role Model Award in the Fight Against Corruption, on certain persons, including a former President of the Senate; a taxi driver; and a former Justice of the Federal High Court at the Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.”
The statement added that the said denial by the EFCC was coming in three different statements all within a few hours is, therefore, baffling, inexplicable, and contradictory.
It said, “Taking cognisance of the command structure of the agency, we also wonder whether Mr. Bakari could have acted on his own or read from a prepared text without recourse to the Commission, which he represents, especially as the visit and decoration was never solicited for in the first place.
“We leave the rest to discerning members of the public to read in-between the lines and make their own judgments.
“However, Ambassador or no Ambassador, the Deputy President of the Senate will not back down from his legislative efforts and advocacy as captured in his several public statements and lectures over the years.
“He will continue to push for legal and institutional reforms such as Special Anti-Graft Courts; Security of tenure and financial autonomy for the EFCC and related agencies.
“Only such reforms would fast-track justice and insulate the anti-corruption agencies from external interference and self-reversals.”
Meanwhile, attempts by our correspondent to get the official reaction of the Senate to specific allegations contained in the EFCC statement were not successful as the Spokesperson, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, did not pick his calls while a text message sent to him was returned undelivered.