By Chinelo Obogo, Lagos
Some opposition political parties have hit out at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), accusing the agency of politicising anti-corruption efforts and allegedly ‘intimidating some politicians within and outside the All Progressives Congress (APC).’
Addressing a press conference recently at his Ikolo Awka residence in Anambra State on behalf of Allied Political Parties for Good Governance and Building Nigeria Legacy, over an alleged N20 billion Kogi salary bail-out account that was reported to have been frozen by the court, the national chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Okey Nwosu, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ‘call the anti-graft agency to order.’
‘EFCC and other agencies of government must learn to focus on their jobs and stay away from politicians; extricate themselves from politics and begin to function as preventive organisations. Last week, the biggest topic in the news was the face-off between the Government of Kogi State and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The country woke up to the news that the EFCC had frozen a purported Kogi State salary bail-out account domiciled in a commercial bank over a N20bn loan meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the state government but kept in an interest-yielding account with the Bank,’ Nwosu said.
“Counsel to the EFCC told the court that the order to freeze this so-called account was necessary in order to abate further dissipation of the funds in the said account. The agency went further to state that instead of using the money for the purpose it was meant, the bank acted on the instruction of the Kogi State Government, transferred the money from the loan account and placed it in a fixed deposit account.
“Devoid of politics, the supposed court order obtained by an agency that is meant to be a foremost law enforcement agency in Nigeria should be taken on the face value as authentic news, which needs no further questioning. But facts emanated from well-meaning Nigerians and institutions barely 24 hours after, in almost all newspapers and the electronic media that the EFCC might have acted on absolute falsehood. The Kogi State Government does not currently operate or maintain a fixed deposit account with said bank and there is no mandate letter from Kogi to open any such untoward account.
‘The management of the bank went further to say that they were surprised at the media’s narration of the events surrounding the transactions referenced and are disheartened at the characterisation implied in these narrations. This event which was reported by local and international media and which has generated controversy across all divides, projects EFCC as a tool of oppression and not an agency that was set up to sanitise Nigeria and make it corrupt free. Politics carried too far can destroy the political system and further bring down the already bad economy. Corruption investigation must be ethical and agencies must never make their work into a media war. Such media frenzy portraying everyone in the country as corrupt does not leverage the investment climate, the country and our democracy.’