Condemns govt’s false information on suspended EFCC boss
BY GRACE ANYANWU, ABUJA – A Civil Rights Advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigerian (HURIWA), says the arrest and detention of suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has showed clearly that there are extensive networks of corrupt officials in the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
It noted that such officials have all the while enjoyed protection because of their access to some intelligence on the allegations now made against Magu.
This is as HURIWA described Magu’s arrest and detention as symbolizing the deeper issues of extensive corruption of staggering proportions in all facets of Nigeria’s national life.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, called on President Buhari not to treat the scandal allegedly associated with Magu as a family affair.
It also stressed the need for President Buhari to use merit and competence as the benchmarks for selecting the substantive head of EFCC going forward.
HURIWA also condemned the federal government for what it described as “peddling toxic and uncoordinated false” information and outright lies on the exact circumstances of the arrest and detention of the embattled Ibrahim Magu.
The Rights Group frowns at a situation where government officials, including those in different security agencies and the EFCC, flagrantly peddle lies on whether Magu was arrested or not, noting that such development represents a clear violation of the Freedom of Information ACT of 2015 and section 22 of the 1999 Constitution as amended which clearly make the media custodians of information and to act as a vanguard and conscience of the nation.
HURIWA also noted that a situation whereby officials of government will fully peddles falsehood publicly is not ethically correct, saying that we must condemn the tendency to elevate falsehoods and lies as statecraft in this present President Buhari-led administration in Nigeria.
The Rights group said that the extent of corruption in the different layers of the current administration at the Federal level and the State level is troubling just as the credibility and the integrity of the process of waging the fight against corruption and economic crimes have been muddled up and muddied in the political waters to such an extent that there are persons who are immune from prosecution because of their proximity to the seat of political powers in Abuja.
According to HURIWA; “The EFCC seems to be engaged in unclear mechanisms in waging the war against corruption in such a way that whereas some notorious ex-governors of Imo and Abia States are associated with allegations of staggering crimes but the EFCC under Ibrahim Magu is playing hide and seek with erstwhile governors Roches Okorocha and Theodore Orji amongst many other former governors of most of the Nigerian States including those of Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa who went on to be appointed as Ministers by President Muhammadu Buhari to head the Petroleum and Niger Delta ministries in the current cabinet.
“From the word go, the body language of the Federal Government is that of deception and deceit in the war against corruption but rather political witch-hunting has characterised the anti-graft war”.
The Rights group further said that the style of waging the anti-graft campaigns under the current dispensation does not meet the criteria expected of a national anti-corruption institution in the 21st century.
It said; “This is because, there are clearly many influential politically connected persons who are treated as sacred cows including members of the so called Presidential cabal.
“This EFCC under Ibrahim Magu did nothing when the late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu, Abba Kyari came under series of accusations of collecting huge bribes from MTN and allegedly engaging in many cases of frauds and contract scams just as the EFCC watched as the National Social Investment Scheme under the Presidency failed to account for how over N500 billion budgetary releases were spent.
“There are allegations that ghost beneficiaries were paid the Social Investment Programme Money without any iota of accountability and transparency.
“The National Emergency Management Agency was embroiled in widespread corruption running into several billions in which the name of the Vice President was mentioned but this EFCC looked the other way and watched as the disgraced Director General of NEMA destroyed NEMA before he was fired,” it said.
HURIWA said it had urged President Buhari to reorganize the EFCC and appoint a capable hand to pilot its affairs devoid of politics but the President refused to do the needful until this moment that his Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami, who has his own issues centred around some of his controversial official actions, petitioned the President asking him to remove Ibrahim Magu from office for alleged corruption.