A few weeks ago, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Paul Arkwright, visited the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, in Abuja, where he commended the EFCC for its efforts at fighting corruption.
Before leaving, however, the British envoy had a solemn word of advice for his host.
He said, “INEC and EFCC should be there to preserve the integrity of the political process, including taking forward investigations without any prejudice on one side or the other, following the evidence and taking action where it is justified.”
Magu told his host that the commission would not take sides with any political party or group.
“I assure you that there is no political interference in what we do. We will continue to work with stakeholders like INEC which we have an agreement with to ensure that there is no interference to ensure a free and fair election in Nigeria
“We do not invite anybody here if he is not found to be involved in one offence or crime and that is why when you come here, it takes a lot of effort to be off the chain. Whatever case that comes to the EFCC is investigated to a logical conclusion. We take the case to court which gives the final decision.”
However, the Peoples Democratic Party disagreed with the EFCC, which has been investigating the source of the PDP’s campaign funding since 2015, detaining or arraigning over 30 people who served in the last PDP government.
The Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, believes only those in the PDP are targeted by the EFCC while those who defect are given a clean bill of health.
In a statement which was written in reaction to the British envoy’s warning, Secondus said rather than encourage states who are seriously involved in the delivery of the dividends of democracy to their people, the ruling APC has been conniving with the relevant agencies to be harassing contractors ostensibly to frustrate and slow them down in their development strides.
He said, “Contractors in Taraba and Rivers states as well as other PDP states are being harassed by the EFCC operatives and are being arm-twisted to implicate the PDP leaders.
“Intelligence is available to the party that the ruling party and the Federal Government have resolved to ensure that the PDP states are permanently put on their toes so as not to get their bearing ahead of 2019.
“It would be clear to the world and discerning minds that the PDP governors are doing fantastic jobs executing projects that touch the lives of their people unlike their APC counterparts
“In some states like Taraba where projects have been halted as a result of the EFCC meddlesomeness, the unemployment situation has worsened.”
He regretted that the anti-graft agency, which was set up by the PDP administration to tackle corruption in the country without the interference of the ruling government, had made itself a willing tool in the hands of the APC.
Secondus also called on the international community to note the alleged growing impunity where he said anti-graft agencies now usurped the oversight functions of the state Houses of Assembly.
Although the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, denied the allegations levelled against the commission by the PDP chairman, the recent purported freezing of the bank accounts of the Benue State Government barely two weeks after Governor Samuel Ortom dumped the APC to join the PDP continues to raise more questions.
While the EFCC froze the accounts on allegations that Ortom diverted about N22bn between 2015 and 2018, some would wonder why it was after his defection that the action was taken.
Barely a day after the freeing of the Benue State Government’s accounts, the accounts of another PDP state government, Akwa Ibom, was reportedly frozen by the anti-graft agency.
The anti-graft agency has, however, denied freezing the accounts, accusing the PDP states of playing dirty politics.
Incidentally, the freezing of the Akwa Ibom State Government’s accounts purportedly took place on the same day, the PDP leader in the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio, defected to the APC, thus fuelling speculations of a grand plan to intimidate the state government.
As the 2019 general elections draw closer, it remains unclear if the EFCC’s broom will also sweep any of the APC states or if propaganda will carry the day.