The recent upsurge of high profile arrests and prosecutions by the EFCC seems to indicate that the anti-graft agency has woken up from its slumber and wants to key-into the Buhari anti-corruption crusade. But from the facts available in the manner the Agency carries out its shabby prosecution, it is evident that the real goal is far from obtaining justice or even fighting corruption. What is taking place is simply a grand deception to ride on the crest of public opinion and hoodwink the president into believing that the leadership of the Agency is fit enough to carry on with the avowed commitment of President Buhari to fight corruption.
It is necessary for the president and indeed the Nigerian public to know that fighting corruption in this country requires two important ingredients which are courage and diligent prosecution. Both elements are missing in the operations of the EFCC under its current leadership. An EFCC leadership that watched helplessly while big guns in the past regime decapicitated the economy of the country prostate opting for some highly dubious plea-bargains; while going after petty thieves cannot be said to have the courage to fight the monster called corruption. An Agency that is very sloppy in prosecution hence loses virtually all high profile cases cannot in any way help in the current anti-corruption war.
I have refrained from commenting on the current activities of the EFCC all along on account of the fact that my former boss, Vice-Admiral Murtala Nyako is one of those arrested and prosecuted by the Agency. But it is now precisely because of that fact that I am now compelled to write on the issue. I am not in any way trying to defend the actions of my former boss. Not at all, that is the responsibility of his legal team and I believe they are quite capable of doing that.
However, my concern is the fact that it is becoming evidently manifest that the EFCC does not appear even remotely interested in the pursuit of the cause of justice in their current actions. Their major concern is to create a publicity stunt and attract public attention or sympathy or both. The goal appears to be public relations rather than the pursuit of justice. All the hype, the grandstanding and the noise in recent cases are purely publicity gimmicks. Put within the context of the pursuit of the cause of justice, they are too sloppy, lack diligence and full of drama and showmanship. The fact that the EFCC through their lawyers present many charges against accused persons does not mean that they have a case against them.
This explains why the EFCC keeps loosing high profile cases recently. Securing convictions require diligent prosecution which is glaringly missing in the manner the EFCC handles its anti-corruption crusade. As a matter of fact, the EFCC through its legal team went to a very deplorable low during arguments on the bail application presented by Nyako’s legal team on Friday the 10th of July, 2014. On that day, instead of the EFCC to brief their legal team to argue legal points contained in the bail application, they were briefed to make wild, malicious and criminal insinuations to the effect that two out of the 31 witnesses presented by the EFCC had suddenly slumped and died. The lawyer made it look like the deaths were not natural as if death needed EFCC’s permission to take the lives the Agency’s witnesses. In fact the lie in the presentation by the EFCC lawyer is so manifest that one may even suspect the Agency itself in the death of the suspects. Whereas the two witnesses died in hospitals in Yola and Abuja after battling with known ailments; the EFCC lawyer informed the court that the witnesses slumped and died suddenly as if it was a joint occurrence within the same precinct. The EFCC lawyer further insinuated that Admiral Nyako being a former military officer had a hand in the deaths of the two witnesses. That was most wicked, most malicious and indeed uncharitable.
Does it mean that EFCC witnesses have immunity from death emanating from natural causes? In any case, what if Nyako on the other hand questions the death of the duo? What if Nyako says he suspects that their deaths was as a result of evidence obtained from them under duress and other forms of threats, and that someone was afraid it could be denied in an open court or that the Agency was afraid that such evidence could be controverted when the said persons are presented as prosecution witnesses in the Court? Under such circumstances who then will be more interested in their death? Nyako or the EFCC?
Another lie presented in court by the EFCC through their lawyer is to say that Commander Abdul Aziz Nyako jumped bail and was out of the country only to return on the 29th of May, 2014. This is also false, malicious and simply aimed at scoring a cheap public relations point. Commander Abdul-Aziz Nyako had been in the country since January 2014. He participated in the electioneering process as a senatorial candidate and contested for the post, campaigned openly, received a flag from President Buhari and the National Chairman of the APC at an open rally in Yola, and went on to win the senatorial election in March 2014. As a matter of fact, Commander Abdul-Aziz Nyako was arrested in Gombe by the same EFCC within the electioneering period. He was taken to Abuja, detained by the Agency and later granted bail which he respected. How could anyone lie so brazenly on a matter that is open and backed by available records in the files of the EFCC? With such sloppy prosecution anchored on lies, how could EFCC ever win any case in a court of law?
It is my considered opinion that the current upsurge in high profile arrests and prosecution by the leadership of the EFCC is simply a grand deception intended to buy into public sentiments and perhaps in the process impress President Muhammadu Buhari to preserve the incompetent structure presently prevailing in the Agency. No anti-corruption war will be won by an Agency that presides over such shabby investigation process and superintends over an equally sloppy prosecution.
My take in this whole saga is that corruption should be fought vigorously and whoever is found guilty should be brought to book. I hold no brief for any one. But justice works on facts not fantasy, evidence not sentiments and diligence not showmanship.
At present, the drama presented by EFCC lawyers in court is pure fantasy, the issues raised are pure sentiments while the emphasis placed on media blitz is pure showmanship.
Ahmad Sajoh wrote from Wauru-Jabbe, Jimeta-Yola
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