Opinion

Emmanuel Onwubiko: 2023: Will EFCC stop South-East

Regulation is order, and good legislation is sweet order”. -Aristotle
If there’s any data that’s so infamous that you don’t want commonsense to decipher is the likelihood that legislation enforcement businesses beneath the command and management of the manager arm of presidency will be manipulated and deployed as political assault canine towards perceived opponents of the president or governor.

This a lot was made manifest lately after I posted on my social media web page an unique data a serving federal cupboard member of the President Muhamadu Buhari informed me and some mates about how Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee (EFCC) is used to focus on perceived opponents of the president.
This data elicited equivalent responses from my audiences who all chorused that it isn’t a secret that EFCC is the assault canine of the President.

I’ll focus on in broad particulars some dramatic situations up to now and current occasions that depict the widespread allegation that the President and his trusted loyalists from the Moslem North are utilizing the EFCC as political assault canine for witch hunt.

I’ll nevertheless point out three situations wherein it’s now being feared that the EFCC is positioned to cease bold and viable Igbo politicians from in search of to succeed President Buhari in 2023.
The clearest proof that factors to the aforementioned plot by EFCC to knock off the South East from the calculations of potential successor of president Buhari is the case of the previous governor of Abia State and the present Senate’s Chief whip Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.

This gentleman has been dragged by all of the courtroom system in Nigeria by EFCC over allegations suspected to be phantom wherein the intention is to get conviction by hook or criminal and politically incapacitate some of the energetic and nationally accepted political tactician of the twenty-first century –senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
This a lot wanted conviction will robotically bar him from operating in 2023 because the structure bars fraudulent convicts from ever holding public workplace till ten years or, so after the courtroom’s conviction.
Of their very harmful velocity to convict Orji Uzor Kalu and render him politically unuseful particularly within the 12 months 2023 presidential election, the EFCC and the then decide of the Federal Excessive Courtroom shot themselves on the leg when the decide who bought promoted to the courtroom of Enchantment while the case of EFCC towards Senator was nonetheless pending, refuse to imagine his correct standing as a Courtroom of Enchantment’s Justice however selected to acquire a fiat to proceed as each Federal Excessive Courtroom decide and a justice of courtroom of Enchantment on the identical time. This makes the conviction of Orki Uzor Kalu malicious since in logic nothing will be and never be or somewhat you’ll be able to’t be a decide within the excessive courtroom and on the identical time a Justice on the Enchantment courtroom.
The decide then maliciously convicted Orji Uzor Kalu and had him thrown into prisons for a few years, went again to renew on the Enchantment Courtroom simply because the EFCC fought towards each effort Orji Kalu made to acquire bail pending his enchantment towards his conviction.

The case bought to the Supreme Courtroom and as God destined it Senator Orji Uzor Kalu who had spent 6 months in jail, bought launched when the apex courtroom invalidated his conviction.

To show that there’s a political agendum, the EFCC filed a recent trial on the Federal Excessive Courtroom.
Sensing a transparent manifestation of malicious prosecution which might rightly be termed a persecution, the Federal Excessive Courtroom beneath one other decide with no contradictory standing, quashed the trial for the second time over identical matter of the Senate’s Chief whip, thus paving the way in which for his eventual launch from 6 months of unlawful incarceration.
The motion of this newest Federal Excessive Courtroom’s decide who dismissed the retrial of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu completely demonstrates what Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) mentioned thus: “If justice be taken away, what are governments however nice bands of robbers?”

And so respite got here the way in which of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, because the Federal Excessive Courtroom sitting in Abuja, barred the Federal Authorities from retrying him, primarily based on the N7.1billion cash laundering cost the Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee, EFCC, earlier most well-liked towards him.
The courtroom, within the judgement that was delivered by trial Justice Inyang Ekwo, relied on a verdict the Supreme Courtroom gave on Might 8, 2020, to cease additional proceedings within the legal case the EFCC instituted towards Kalu and his agency, Slok Nigeria Restricted.

Justice Ekwo burdened that the apex courtroom had in its judgement, expressly ordered the retrial of Kalu’s co-defendant, Mr. Jones Udeogu, who was a former Director of Finance in Abia State.
He famous that whereas Udeogu was the Appellant within the mentioned enchantment that was determined by the Supreme Courtroom, Kalu and his agency, had been solely cited as Respondents within the matter.

Justice Ekwo held that it could be legally flawed for Kalu and his agency to be subjected to recent trial, when the apex courtroom didn’t make such order whereas deciding Udeogu’s enchantment.
He mentioned the proof earlier than him confirmed that the Supreme Courtroom solely ordered the return of Udeogu’s case-file for retrial, with none point out of both Kalu or his agency.
“Can this courtroom broaden the order of the Supreme Courtroom by ordering the retrial of the Defendants on this case”, Justice Ekwo queried, sustaining that inline with judicial hierarchy, it could be legally flawed for his courtroom to train jurisdiction not given to it by the Structure.
Moreso, he held that the Supreme Courtroom couldn’t have ordered Kalu’s retrial, since he by no means sought such reduction.
“The courtroom can not grant reduction to a celebration who didn’t search identical earlier than it. The first Defendant (Kalu) neither sought nor utilized for retrial. No such order was made.
“A courtroom of legislation ought to cease the place the statute stopped within the train of its jurisdiction. This courtroom, by the pronouncement of the Supreme Courtroom, is responsibility certain to proceed with retrial of the 2nd Respondent (Udeogu).
“The courtroom isn’t a correct place for difficulty of sentiment, however the legislation”, Justice Ekwo added.

He held that there was advantage within the go well with Kalu filed to problem the authorized propriety of his deliberate re-arraignment by the EFCC.
In addition to, Justice Ekwo dismissed EFCC’s counter-affidavit EFCC towards Kalu’s go well with on the premise that it was “pre-emptive, speculative, opinionated”, and towards part 115 (1) and (2) of Proof Act, 2011.
He held that Kalu’s case was based on the authorized precept of “autrefois convict”, which prohibits his retrial for a similar offence he was beforehand tried for and convicted.
“The case of the Appellant should succeed on its advantage and has so succeeded. The judgement of the Supreme Courtroom is closing and can’t be relitigated”, Justice Ekwo added.

He held that permitting EFCC to retry Kalu and his agency would quantity to violation of part 36(9) and (10) of the 1999 Structure, as amended, in addition to part 283 of the Administration of Legal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015.
Particularly, the courtroom issued an order, “prohibiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the EFCC, her brokers, officers, servants, privies and every other particular person or our bodies deriving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria from retrying the Applicant on Cost No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/07 F. R. N. VS. Orji Uzor Kalu & 2 Ors. or every other cost primarily based on the identical facts-the mentioned Applicant having been tried, convicted and sentenced by the Judgement or this Honourable Courtroom dated the fifth day of December, 2019, beneath the hand of Hon. Justice M. B. Idris, JCA.
In addition to, “An order prohibiting the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the EFCC, her brokers, her officers, servants, privies and every other particular person or our bodies deriving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria from retrying the Applicant on cost No. FHC/ABJ/CR/56/07 F. R. N. VS. Orji Uzor Kalu & 2 Ors. or every other cost primarily based on the identical details de novo, there being no extant Judgement or Ruling of a reliable courtroom in Nigeria mandating identical”.
The courtroom nevertheless mounted January 11, 12 and 13 for retrial of Kalu’s co-defendant, Udeogu.
In the meantime, EFCC, by lawyer, Mr. Oluwaleke Atolagbe, vowed to enchantment the judgement which it described as a miscarriage of justice.

EFCC proceeded to enchantment the dismissal of its witch hunt plot towards one of many South East’s most respected potential presidential candidates in 2023-Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
Now allow us to take a look at the 2 different laughable actions of the EFCC that are more likely to be related to a formidably deliberate political marketing campaign to disclaim the South East of the prospect of changing into the successor to President Buhari subsequent 12 months.
The primary is the case of the previous governor of Imo State Mr. Rochas Okorocha who left workplace over half a decade in the past however EFCC didn’t file or formulate fees towards him till the identical day that this man declared his intention to contest for the workplace of president in 2023 twenty hours in the past.

The query to ask is why will the EFCC wait till Rochas Okorocha declared to run to succeed Muhammadu Buhari earlier than it struck by submitting fees earlier than the Federal Excessive Courtroom?
There was an try to make use of the media by the EFCC’S propaganda machine to politically destroy Senator Anyim Pius Anyim who is likely one of the solely Nigerian alive to have held two key federal positions as Senate president at a time and at one other epoch, he turned the Secretary to the Authorities of the Federation.

However the try to make use of the media towards Senator Anyim failed flat on its face as a result of as it’s mentioned, a transparent conscience fears no allegation. Chief Anyim Pius Anyim who can also be a flexible training lawyer and politician, took his time to supply floor breaking rationalization on why he visited the EFCC when phrases filtered into his ears that somebody talked about his identify in a matter which he went to the anti-graft fee to make clear.
However the current arrest of some of the vocal campaigners for South East presidency of Nigeria in 2023 chief Osita Okechukwu is one other pointer to the alleged plot by EFCC to cease the South East from clinching the workplace of Nigeria president subsequent 12 months Might 29th 2023.

Already, data has linked Okechukwu’s arrest to amongst others his political variations with the data minister Lai Mohammed the political boy of Bola Ahmed Tinubu who nurses ambition to succeed Buhari.
Recent details have emerged from a poorly hatched propaganda machine of possibly the minister of data on why the Director-Basic of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, landed within the web of one of many anti-graft businesses within the nation, the Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee (EFCC).

Okechukwu, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and an ally of President Muhammadu Buhari because the days of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), was detained by the EFCC on Saturday.

The VON boss, who was nonetheless with the anti-graft company when submitting this report, is being quizzed by the crack detectives of the fee over a case of conspiracy, abuse of workplace, and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N1.3billion.

VON, one of many federal businesses beneath the Federal Ministry of Data and Tradition, was primarily established with the mandate of broadcasting Nigeria’s viewpoints, and to mission Nigeria’s optimistic picture to the worldwide group in addition to making the nation’s voice heard on the African continent.

Shortly after President Buhari’s emergence in 2015, Okechukwu, a outstanding politician and one of many stakeholders of APC from the South East area of the nation, was appointed to man the company.

His appointment was described as a reward for his steadfastness, braveness and loyalty to Buhari and the CPC, which later merged with APC in 2014.

Particularly, Okechukwu was appointed on Might 24, 2016, and he has been managing the affairs of the company until at present. He was, nevertheless, invited by the EFCC to reply some questions relating to the funds of the company.

In accordance with a petition obtained by Day by day Belief, a number of the sins allegedly dedicated by Okechukwu, who arrived on the headquarters of the anti-graft company in Abuja at about 1.32 pm on Saturday to honour the invitation prolonged to him and to reply to a number of the allegations towards him are captured under:

Disregard for data minister: there’s a reported chilly battle between the minister of data and tradition, Lai Mohammed, and the VON boss over the award of some contracts within the company he superintends.

It was mentioned that the embattled federal company boss regarded himself as Buhari’s man who will at all times have his manner so far as the award of contracts within the company was involved.

He was alleged to have shaped the behavior of bypassing the minister on the problems that relate to his company.

Breach of Procurement Act-Okechukwu was alleged to have breached the Procurement Act by awarding some contracts to his relations with out due recourse to the legislation.

Particularly, he was mentioned to have awarded a contract for the development of an ICT knowledge centre on the newly acquired VON workplace to his nephew, Emeka, of ECR Know-how Service Restricted on the sum of N47 million.

Aside from that, the job was not accomplished regardless of being paid absolutely however was licensed accomplished by the company. The contract was awarded on the 2nd of Might, 2017 even earlier than the EFCC handed over the newly acquired property to the company.

N1bn ICT infrastructure fund ‘squandered’- It was additionally alleged that about N1 billion put aside as a fund for Data, Communication, and Know-how (ICT) for the company, was expended with out the board’s approval and it was allegedly squandered beneath Okechukwu’s management between 2017 and 2020.

“The sum of money spent on ICT in VON, if it was judiciously used, might have turned VON right into a world-class ICT centre in Nigeria,” the petition partly learn.

The web site of the company, which is anticipated to publish in at the very least eight languages as a way to attain its target market, was mentioned to have restricted itself to broadcasting or publishing in English Language solely.

One other politically manufactured allegation is Contract splitting wherein two totally different contracts amounting to N15 million and N43 million respectively had been awarded to the identical firm, ECR Know-how Service Restricted for the availability of 50 and 150 digital audio recorders in alleged case of contract splitting.

In the identical vein, a contract on the availability of software program for the company price N21 million was awarded to Okechukwu’s nephew’s good friend who owns Eppin Forest Engineering Restricted, however allegedly equipped software program for lower than N5 million.

One other ridiculous cost is bypassing FEC for approval of OB Van substitute wherein it’s alleged that Exterior Broadcast van price N150 million was to go to the Federal Govt Council for approval nevertheless it was mentioned that that was not performed, somewhat he went forward to the Bureau of Public Procurement for approval to purchase CODEX machines for a similar goal that prices N50 million.

It was mentioned (who mentioned?) that the remaining N100 million couldn’t be accounted for.

The tissue of propaganda in Day by day Belief experiences that the tenure of the embattled VON DG led to Might final 12 months and he allegedly maneuvered and obtained a renewal for an additional time period of 5 years with out the data of the data minister.

Consequently, the minister has refused to difficulty an announcement on his renewal thus far, with Okechukwu staying foot within the company.

Following this improvement, involved workers of the Voice of Nigeria (VON) have been calling on Minister Mohammed to forestall the upcoming breakdown of legislation and order within the organisation following a vacuum created after the expiration of the tenure of Mr. Osita Okechikwu on the 23rd Might 2021.

On Monday, Might 24, 2021, Osita was confronted by workers to current a letter of reappointment, which he didn’t on that day earlier than leaving the workplace.

Final 12 months, the involved workers requested the data minister to intervene and provides a speedy path for piloting the affairs of VON pending approval of substantive DG whereas asking Mr. Osita to steer keep away from VON to keep away from any embarrassment from an already tensed workers of the Company.

These workers revolt might more likely to be instigated by the person who doesn’t need something to empower somebody like Osita Okechukwu who’s campaigning for Igbo presidency.
It’s apparent that EFCC for a very long time has been utilized by the president to go after his opponents and it’s rumoured that members of the presidential cabal who’re principally these pulling the strings in EFCC don’t need the South East because the president in 2023 for no matter cause.
It’s nevertheless not at present that EFCC has been known as out to cease been used for marketing campaign of witch hunt.
Final 12 months former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, admonished the brand new Chairman of the Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee (INEC), Abdulrasheed Bawa to not succumb to stress to make use of the anti-graft company to witch-hunt opposition politicians in order to not solid doubt on its credibility.
His assertion got here within the wake of the Courtroom of Enchantment’s acquittal of Excessive Chief Raymond Dokpesi, the founding father of Ray Energy and AIT over cash laundering fees.
Atiku expressed his “pleasure and solidarity” with the PDP chieftain over the Courtroom’s resolution in reference to the alleged N2.1 billion cash laundering fees introduced towards him by EFCC associated to the arms contracts beneath former Nationwide Safety Adviser Sambo Dasuki.
An announcement from the previous Vice President’s media workplace on Friday signed by Paul Ibe mentioned he was elated with the result of the trial as a result of it revealed the reality in regards to the lopsided nature of the anti-corruption coverage of the Buhari administration.
In accordance with Atiku, “the complete anti-corruption trials seem like centered on opposition politicians, thereby casting doubts on the credibility of the anti-graft company.”
The previous Vice President recalled that throughout the 2019 presidential election, the EFCC centered its time and assets on harassing and arraigning aides of opposition politicians, whereas it was detached to how members of the ruling social gathering had been financing their campaigns.
The previous presidential candidate of the PDP famous that even members of the worldwide group are actually coming to phrases with the fact that the anti-corruption campaign isn’t neutral, and that the federal government is now utilizing the anti-corruption coverage to contrive fees towards these they need to use to advance sure political goals.
Atiku mentioned he was impressed with the appointment of Abdul Rasheed Bawa as EFCC chairman, however suggested him to study from the errors of his predecessors.
The Wazirin Adamawa reminded Bawa that his success will inevitably be decided by Nigerians and never by the federal government of the day and the ruling social gathering.
“As a younger man of nice mind and confidence, I’m assured that you’re as much as the duty. You have to be prepared to revive the glory of the EFCC by altering its public notion as a political software of the federal government in energy. Let your conscience and historical past decide you. However you’ll be able to solely achieve this for those who resist exterior manipulation. Might Allah information you aright,” Atiku additional informed Bawa.
The Benue State governor Samuel Ortom who isn’t notably appreciated by President Buhari due to his outspokenness on the incessant armed Fulani terrorism, had accused EFCC of getting used.
As an illustration, on August 7, 2018, two weeks after defecting from the APC to the Peoples Democratic Get together, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom accused the EFCC of freezing the state’s financial institution accounts.
Previous to this improvement, barely 5 days after his defection, the anti-graft company had accused the governor of fraud to the tune of N22bn.
The EFCC said that the governor, between June 2015 and March 2018, ordered the withdrawal of N21.3bn from 4 of the state’s financial institution accounts.
Out of the sum, about N19bn was mentioned to be meant for the fee of six safety businesses that had been deployed within the state to handle the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
Nonetheless, the EFCC claimed that lower than N3bn of the cash was paid to the safety businesses, whereas the rest couldn’t be accounted for.
Responding, Ortom had requested a sequence of questions, “Why am I being investigated by the EFCC? My information are there. However to this point, I’m the one governor in Nigeria whose safety vote is being investigated by the EFCC.
“How might you single me out of 36 (governors) for investigation? It (safety vote) isn’t one thing that any authorities will start to reveal. Why ought to Benue State’s case be totally different – if not persecution?
EFCC has continued to disclaim this allegation however retains doing issues that open them as much as accusations of political witch hunt. The Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee in 2018, defined that it’s an institution mandated to struggle corruption within the nation and by no means a software used for witch-hunt as speculated by some individuals.
The zonal Head of the Fee in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Abdulkarim Chukkol, mentioned this in Uyo whereas reacting to allegation that the company was being utilized by the All Progressives Congress, APC, to witch-hunt rival events within the state.
He mentioned the company labored with details saying since its workplaces had been opened within the state, it has secured eight convictions and over 256 others throughout the nation through the years.
“Now we have been within the state for a few 12 months and 4 months now. Numerous actions have gone on within the state and we secured eight convictions from Akwa Ibom State and 256 throughout the nation.
“Now we have many instances which are lining up for investigation earlier than we go to courtroom. I can guarantee you within the coming years we’re going to safe extra convictions,” Chukkol mentioned.
The zonal head mentioned that corruption battle shouldn’t be left for the fee and authorities alone, stressing that the battle have to be fought by all Nigerians.
In accordance with him, “Combating corruption is the responsibility of all us. The aim of this present day is to create consciousness on the risks of corruption. All Nigerians should prepared, every and everybody has a job to play.”
He mentioned EFCC would proceed to work with NGOs and CSOs to create consciousness and get rid of corruption from our nation.
The details of EFCC’S witch-hunt towards Igbo politicians is disturbing and this have to be stopped by all means authorized.

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO, A POLITICAL AND MEDIA STRATEGIST was Nationwide commissioner of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.

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