EFCC And Osun State; A Call For Caution

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs Farida Waziri is, without any doubt, in the spotlight. What with the controversy that trailed her appointment to that high profile office. There are those who consider her unworthy of the position of the nation’s number one crime buster, for a number of reasons, chief of which is the allegation of antecedent liaisons with some of the most culpably corrupt public officers whose cases were on the front burner in the work schedule of her predecessor, Nuhu Ribadu. Such viewpoint is reinforced by wide allegations that it is this powerful cabal of transgressors that were responsible not only for her ascension to the throne of Crime Czarina which she now occupies, but also the dramatic sack of her predecessor.

The veracity or otherwise of these claims would appear to be academic, and fit only for historians in future reviewing a turbulent past. Mrs Waziri came out smoking hot as she scaled through the screening at the National Assembly in flying colours, at the end of which, as if to assuage doubting minds, she made the historic statement that she will STEP ON TOES.

For a people severely inundated with allegations of selective application of the apparati

of investigation and surveillance on perceived and real opponents of Olusegun Obasanjo, the timing and delivery of Farida’s statement was impeccable. Therefore, the task that lay before her right from the moment she stepped down from the venue of the screening, was to match her words with action; a task which she has strived to execute through a few high profile arrests here and there. However, if the TOE-STEPPING mantra was designed to rubbish her predecessor, then she should be well advised to beware of those who must reduce her steely resolve to hot air. This brings to mind the theatre of shame called Osun State, where slimy TOES abound and may have listed her amongst their “conquests”. At least, if the crude boasting of the comical cast of provincial jesters that crudely appropriate that stage is anything to go by.

It would be recalled that the 11 Action Congress party members of the Osun State House of Assembly suddenly found certain sums of money paid into their accounts by the Olagunsoye Oyinlola-led government of the state, branded as “constituency development funds”. These honourable members did what is expected of any law-abiding and responsible citizen, by returning the funds, and reporting the matter to the EFCC, because such disbursements violated due process both in the manner of its distribution and its intended appropriation.

The petition of the AC lawmen embodying their complaints to the EFCC was filed April 2008, whilst the PDP members of the same house did nothing, but continued to enjoy the spoils of this crude departure from due process even as the AC lawmen patiently awaited the response of the EFCC. Suddenly, the Osun State government in August 2008 (last month) sent their own petition to the EFCC, asking it to investigate the source from which the AC lawmen got the funds they returned to the state coffers some of them having, as alleged, first withdrawn and/or spent all or part of it.

Whilst conceding to the author of the governor’s petition his unfettered liberty to exhibit primitive ignorance and crass buffoonery, it is the sudden awakening of the EFCC, five months after the AC petition, by inviting the entire house for interrogation that we find completely awkward. It is not intended to dictate or prescribe a modus operandi upon the EFCC, or to ascribe merit, or lack of it, to the governor’s subsequent petition, but there is abundance of logic in the proposition that the complaint that came five months ago ought to have been given priority. Lumping all the members together in a widely publicised, mass invitation to EFCC office in Abuja, apart from constituting total absenteeism from legislative duties, also creates the impression that all the members are culpable and smacks of an attempt to trivialise the issue. This is capable of doing a grave harm to the reputation which Mrs. Waziri is carefully nurturing.

The EFCC chairman is advised to thread the path of caution in the slippery terrain that Osun State has become, and to carry out her assignment fearlessly and impartially

Some members of her profession who have in the past traversed this terrain who trampled with the sacred truth and sanctity of the citizens’ freedom by compromising their neutrality eventually suffered the consequences, not necessarily due to any ingenuity on the part of the harassed opposition and oppressed citizenry, but because we have a President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who is sensitive to issues of due process and the Rule of Law.

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