The farcical story that NIA, Nigeria’s external secret Police, has claimed ownership of the large haul of $43.4m, £27,800 and N23.2m is heretic flapdoodle, bunkum, baloney, hogwash, poppycock and balderdash. Let this government and its minions credit Nigerians with some modicum of sense and capacity to reason, even with their valiant attempts to cow, browbeat and intimidate all opposition elements and critical voices in their so called anti-corruption war. At least, not even the terror halo cast on our individual and collective psyche has dulled our analytical minds.
The entire theatricality and Baba Sala’s “Alawada Kerikeri” bofoonery and histrionics being exhibited by the EFCC ought to be reserved for some circus show at the National Theatre, Lagos, Oxford Street or Traffagal Square, London, where comedians and humour merchants entertain.
The whole anti-corruption fight has been too much of noise, and no substance. It has been partisan, selective, full of vendetta, sentiments, and outright lies. It is, in the words of William Shakespeare, in Macbeth, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.
The emergent facts do not show NIA’s ownership of the “discovered” sums, but a grand cover-up of a serving minister. It is so sad that all these national diversions are simply geared towards highlighting and emphasising the omnipotence and indispensability of just one man, Ibrahim Magu, as Executive Chairman of the EFCC. We should build strong institutions, not strong individuals. Before Ibrahim Magu, there was a Nuhu Ribadu; there was a Mrs Farida Waziri; and there was an Ibrahim Lamorde. After Magu, there would still be another EFCC Executive Chairman. As the cliché goes, “soldiers go, soldiers come, but barracks remain”.
How many Nigerians actually know that it is the EFCC (Establishment) Act, LFN, NO I, 2004, that gave life and oxygen to the EFCC, and not the bandied Section 171 of the 1999 Constitution, which was promulgated 5 years before EFCC came into being? Section 171 of the Constitution never envisaged EFCC nostradamusly.
How many Nigerians know that the Executive Chairman of the EFCC could be, not just a Police officer, but by section 2 (1) (a) (ii) of the EFCC Act, “any serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent”, who possesses “not less than 15 years cognate experience”?
This means that the EFCC’s Executive Chairman can emerge from the Army, Navy, Air-force, Police, Prisons, Immigration, Customs, FRSC, Civil Defence, Fire Brigade, Traffic Police, etc, in so far as such a person is a “serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or its equivalent and possesses not less than 15 years cognate experience”.
So, EFCC should simply not equate Magu, nor should Magu simply approximate, EFCC. If we understand this, then we will stop the present embarrassment to the country, where the country’s only headlines are about corruption, corruption and corruption. No responsible investor would come and do business in our country where corruption is held aloft as a banner of nobility and advertisement.
It is simply counter-productive. All these so-called humongous “recoveries” of orphaned monies are simply geared towards showcasing the ineffable efficiency, unparalled effectiveness and matchless proficiency of Magu.
In the USA, wherefrom we borrowed our presidentialism, the equivalent agency (the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), works silently behind the scenes, only seen, but never heard, except where it becomes absolutely necessary. But, here in Nigeria, the EFCC engages in grotesque media trial, hifalutin and shocking “discoveries” of orphaned monies, whose destinations after the media hype is never known.
Where are all the alleged recoveries of vast sums, attached properties, etc, so far made by the EFCC, kept and how much are they?
Who is using them? When asked this question by the Senate during screening, Magu told a shocked and bewildered nation he did not know! When asked if he was aware that some Certificates of Occupancy of properties earlier seized by the EFCC were found in the open market being auctioned, he expressed surprise and said he would investigate and get back to the Senate.
When questioned about what answers he gave PMB that made the President clear him after the first rejection, he said he did not envisage the document containing these with him as he did not know the questions. Good gracious! When asked if he was aware there was corruption within the EFCC itself, he agreed, but said they were addressing it.
So, the question is, who will police the Police? Which Guard will guard the Guard? The anti-graft war has been turned into a sham, a farce and huge joke, designed to enlist mob hysteria and “lynch-them” mentality. People are tried and convicted of corruption on the pages of newspapers, only to be exonerated by established courts of law after a proper trial, under our accusatorial (not inquisitorial) Criminal Justice System; with the EFCC unable to prove its case.
Mind boggling elephantine “ghost sums” have, since 2015, been “discovered” in pit latrines, toilets, septic tanks, abandoned homes, sewage systems; in the hands of housemaids, servants, house boys, inside pots of soup, etc; but, we do not know where the money is kept.
Yet, Nigerians groan in hunger and remain destitute after the media cinema show. In this digital age, EFCC should know that these foreign currencies which always look mint, are serially numbered. Thus, tracking them to know when and how they arrived the country, by what means, through whom, etc, is not rocket science. The US Secret Service, Treasury Department and Central Bank can easily tell.
We appear fixated to name, shame and humiliate Nigerians with the paint brush of shame, odium, obloquy and denigration.
QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS
Let us ask some pertinent questions here: How can about N15 billion be found in highbrow Osborne Road, Ikoyi, by no means a back squalid street? How can a foreign arm of the Nigerian secret Police, the equivalent of CIA, keep such hard currency in cash at an unguarded apartment, tucked away with many others in a 4 bedroom 7th floor apartment, in a block of flats? Why not in a separate heavily fortified and fiercely guarded stand-alone building, that has “keep off” carefully imprinted on it?
What was the money meant for and who approved it, and in which budget? Who was the whistle blower that could easily identify that such money was “hidden” specifically in the bedroom in flat 7A, leaving out the next flat 7B, yet not knowing who kept the money there, or it’s ownership?
Why was EFCC not pictured or videod going into the apartment, before we suddenly saw an arranged “counting” of money? Are there no CCTV in such a highbrow abode inhabited only by high healed wealthy society members?
Were all the vaults of the CBN in its Abuja Headquarters, and its 36 States offices, so full and brimming with excess cash that no space could be found at all to accommodate the funds of a critical Agency of the Federal government such as the NIA?
How were the keys placed at the mouth of one of the safes found? Who placed them there? Is it normal that the owner of a safe would carefully place the keys to the safe by its mouth, rather than hide it or take it away? Who actually owns the money?
Is it Rotimi Amaechi, Alhaji Adamu Muazu, Esther Nnamdi-Ogbue, NIA, or Rivers State? Is this really the case of “corruption fighting back”, the pet fall-back comfort zone of the EFCC, or simply a case of incompetence, vendetta, narcissism, make-belief and a desperate attempt to showcase the credibility or matchless performance of one man?
Are we not being treated to a combination of Nollywood, Hollyywood and Bollywood, all at the same time?
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” (Frederick Douglass).
While wishing all Nigerians a happy Easter, please, remain glued to the Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project, by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb.
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