EFCC, ENOUGH OF THESE THEATRICALS

BY DONS EZE

Nigeria is incomprehensible, very difficult to understand. The more you you try to understand Nigeria and her people, the more difficult for you to understand them. You will even become more confused. You will not know who is saying the truth, and who is lying, what to believe, and what not to believe.

Take this scenario. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will tell the whole world that they have netted one big fish and are holding him in their custody over some financial improprieties. The people will hail and commend the EFCC for a job well done. But before you will open and close your eyes, you will hear that the big fish has been let off the hook, freed not by the court, but by the EFCC. You begin to wonder, and to ask what has really happened? Why the sudden release?

The next day, the EFCC will embark on the same wild goose chase, and will announce the arrest and detention of another big fish. The next moment, the fellow is also off the hook.This has been happening every now and then.

The EFCC will announce the arrest and detention of one big politician or the other – former governors, former ministers, ex-this, ex-that, but within a twinkle of an eye, the person is released.

We begin to ask: why all these theatricals, why the “gra-gra” by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission? Why all the drama, or showmanship? Why will the EFCC not carry out thorough investigation on issues before swinging into action, before arresting and detaining alleged financial offenders?

Why the embarrassments, so to speak, the unnecessary display of force by the EFCC? Why all the intimidations and harassments of (innocent?) citizens? So many questions begging for answers.

Some people have given us some suggestions. They contend that for a big fish, to be in the EFCC net is like someone who is in a football field. Accordingly, he must know how to dribble with the ball, how to manoeuvre, how to expertly play the ball, and score the vital goal. To effectively do this, he must either have the cash or the connection, or both.

The other day, we were entertained by a former top government functionary about how he invited both a former boss of the EFCC, and a person being accused by the EFC of financial impropriety, to his private residence. After some “discussions,” they sorted everything out, and the accused later became a witness to the case! Perhaps, this might have been the trend all these while as far as the big financial offenders are concerned.

Apart from former Governors Joshua Dariye of Plateau State, and Rev. Jolly Nyame of Taraba State, who among other former top government functionaries accused by the EFCC of financial impropriety were convicted? Did it not take a court in London to convict and jail a former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, of financial impropriety, the same person who was freed by a court in Nigeria?

There is also another suggestion that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has made itself a tool in the hands of the government in power to witch-hunt, harass and intimidate those belonging to opposing political parties. Once you are not in the good books of the people in power in Nigeria, you automatically become a target of the EFCC, or the will release the anti-graft agency against you.

The other day, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was complaining that many of its members were unnecessarily being harassed by the EFCC. The recent invitations extended to some top PDP members by the agency, has made us to begin to believe this allegation.

In other to acquit itself of these allegations and restore people’s confidence on agency, the EFCC should endeavour to do things the proper way by ensuring that before any arrest is made, the allegation is thoroughly investigated.

Dr. Dons Eze, KSJI

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