The recent suggestion by the Chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Farida Waziri that special courts be designated to hear cases of corrupt enrichment raised against public officers in Nigeria, provides another auspicious platform to critically appraise the anti-graft body, its operations, hopes and fears.
Ascending the saddle, following the exit of her controversial predecessor, Nuhu Ribadu, the new helms woman, has since her appointment, continued to lament the attitude of some Nigerian courts in dispensing with cases of graft, involving influential public figures.
While blaming the slow success of work of the commission on avoidable court injunctions, legal technicalities and time-consuming advocacies, Waziri suggested the establishment of special courts to help try EFCC related cases as one of the most potent steps towards fighting corruption in the land.
In fact, while, on a working visit to Lagos State, early this month, Waziri solicited the understanding and support of the Judiciary to dispensing justice speedily and checking corruption in Nigeria.
The Tide sympathises with the EFCC Boss, but whole-heartedly rejects the request for creation of special courts for the commission’s cases because what appears to be the major handicap of the anti-graft body is not the lack of the right kind of judges to interprete the laws but the impatience on the part of EFCC to carry out a thorough investigation and put up a water-tight prosecution.
Often times, suspects are scandalized on pages of newspapers before a legally admissible brief, in belief that the executive arm would help influence arrest and early detention of such citizens.
The commission under Nuhu Ribadu, no doubt, recorded modest gains and helped recover stolen public property, but the biggest criticism of that era was that such probes were perceived to be selective and ominously targeted at suspected political foes of then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
That scenario, indeed ignited calls for insulation of the EFCC from the control of the executive arm and be made independent in operations, investigations and prosecution of graft-related cases. Such independence, proper investigations and water-tight legal presentations in our view, are what the EFCC requires to prosecute the war against corruption, which has become an embarrassment to our national image.
In fact, corruption, like other societal vices, permeates various strata of the Nigerian society and has assumed the level of a cankerworm which has eaten so deep into the nation’s fabrics to the extent that successive administrations, military or civilian, have failed to devise ways and means of combating the menace.
That, without doubt, also forced the last civilian administration under Olusegun Obasanjo to establish the EFCC as a catalyst in the battle against corruption, especially, at the highest levels of governance .
However, since the inception of the anti-graft body, controversies have continued to trail its existence with some citizens advocating for more powers to the commission and others, its scrapping.
But whether for or against the EFCC, one thing, is certain: Nigerians need a re-orientation on the way we administer public funds.
We say so because the same sorry state of affairs has caused the categorisation of the country as one of the most corrupt nations on planet earth, hence, the inevitability of an anti-graft body an urgent imperative.
Even as that debate rages, some governmental agencies such as the Police, Customs, PHCN, politicians, Immigrations, among others, are still daily being derogatively ranked among the most corrupt in Nigeria. Thus, the only way out is to help strengthen an agency that is independent and capable of effectively policing the system and keeping in check, corrupt officers and their cohorts.
That expectation, The Tide believes, will remain a mirage, unless the EFCC undertakes a thorough self-search necessary to improve its operations, engage the best anti-criminal minds and fight internal corruption which often waters down good legal efforts.
But it must be said that the fight against corruption is not one that must be left for the EFCC alone, but one that must attract the support of all, the judiciary inclusive. It is only to that extent that The Tide views Waziri’s tour of Lagos State as a welcome development.
While that is on, we believe that the commission’s investigative machinery needs some surgical over-haul through vigorous training and retraining of its workforce to prepare them for the challenges we face as a nation.
2023: Lawyers’ Group Urges Wike To Run For President
The Chairman, League of Patriotic Lawyers, Abubakar Yesufu, has called on Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike to join the presidential race.
He said Wike’s performance as governor shows that he would provide good governance if elected as President of Nigeria.
Briefing newsmen, last Thursday, in Lagos, Yesufu urged Nigerians to support Wike should he heed the call to run.
According to him, “All those currently parading themselves as candidates cannot match Nyesom Wike’s impeccable credentials. Wike has demonstrated clearly that he is ready and eminently qualified for the job, come 2023.
“In education, infrastructure, housing, healthcare delivery, agriculture, social welfare, sports, arts and culture, Wike stands out like a giant amongst midgets.
“Indeed, Nyesom Nwike’s strides among his peers, have earned him the name Mr Project. The name was reemphasised by no less a personality than the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
“We are entering a defining moment the nation’s history. There is a sacred duty on all men and women of good will: Christian or Muslim, PDP or APC to rescue Nigeria from the abyss of destruction from which she is dangerously headed.
“The prospect of making APC return because of lack of good choice is scary and unthinkable.
“Wike has the knack and daring courage and his achievements in Rivers State, a highly cosmopolitan state, are eloquent testimonies of the preparedness of Governor Nyesom Wike.
“I would be taking this message across the country, especially the youths, whose votes might be compromised on the altar of idealism.
“We are going to redirect the orientation and thinking of the youths to ensure those who muffled their voices on the quest for better Nigeria, either at Lekki toll gate, Alausa, Wuse in Abuja or Kafanchan, are not allowed to stage a comeback to power.”
Identify Illegal Refinery Sites, Operators Now, Wike Orders LG Chairmen …Demands Transfer Of DPO, NSCDC Officer Implicated In Act …Promises N2m Bounty On Each Site
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the 23 local government chairmen to provide a comprehensive list of illegal refineries and their operators within their jurisdiction.
Wike gave the ultimatum at a meeting with the council chairmen and heads of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police Force, the Directorate of State Service (DSS), and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) at Government House, last Friday.
The governor challenged the council chairmen to prove that they were not complicit in the noxious business that has continued to threaten the health of Rivers people and the national economy.
Wike stated that as a responsible government, it would be unwise for them to fold their hands and do nothing to safeguard residents of the state from the death that is forced upon them by criminal-minded operators of artisanal refineries.
“Now, every council chairman must go and identify where illegal refineries are taking place. If you identify one, you get N2million. So, go and identify as many as you can. I will pay N2million for each one. And I am going to fight against this. Our people are dying, and we owe our people the responsibility to protect them, to save them from death they never caused.
“So, you must, and you’re given 48 hours to go and identify all illegal refinery sites, and those who are in charge of them.”
Wike emphasised that any of the council chairmen who is afraid to join in the fight against the criminals operating the illegal refineries should be ready to resign.
According to the governor, part of their social contract with their people was also to protect them and stop any illegal economic practices in their domains.
“I’ve called you here to tell you that it’s a total war. It is either we do it or we don’t do it. We cannot allow what is going on to continue. Two things: our people are dying; it’s shortening our own revenue.
“You check from Federation Account, Akwa Ibom and Delta states are getting more, why? Because, these boys of the cartel have caused so much problems for us. So, we will not allow it.”
The Rivers State governor also frowned at security agencies for the role some of their personnel have played in aiding and providing cover to the operators of the illegal refineries in the state.
The governor urged the state Police Commissioner, Mr Eboka Friday, to redeploy out of the state, a particular DPO in Emohua Local Government Area who operates an illegal refinery in the area.
“It’s unfortunate for this country how security people will be involved in illegal bunkering. I can’t believe it. Mr. CP, I thank you for transferring the DPO in Rumuji, who owns a refinery. But the man must leave here, not transferred. He must leave this state. I can’t be governor here and a security man owns an illegal refinery. No, it is not possible…the man has to go. Take him to wherever they allow bunkering.”
Wike directed the CP to immediately arrest Chief W. J. Wocha, Fubara Ohaka, and Chief Promise Ezekwe, who have been fingered for operating illegal refineries deep inside the forest of Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area.
The governor further urged the commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Rivers State Command, to immediately transfer its personnel in charge of vandalisation of pipelines in the state.
“Transfer the man, and tell him to leave. He is a complete saboteur. I mean, how can security men be the ones involved in this? What kind of country are we?”
The governor urged the DSS to profile persons involved in the heinous illegal refining business, and make the list available to him, and assured of acting on the list.
Earlier, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike had vowed not to spare anyone involved in the illegal bunkering and artisanal refinery activities that have caused the soot pandemic in the state.
Wike maintained that his administration will not succumb to any form of blackmail or sentiment that will be stirred by those perpetrators in an attempt to frustrate efforts at curbing such hazardous business.
The governor made the vow when he took a tour, making a long walk through the track roads into the forest of Ogbodo community in Ikwerre Local Government Area, and the forest of Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area, with the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday, and other security chiefs, to uncover some crude oil illegal refining sites.
“They can’t be doing this and be killing my people. No reasonable government will allow that. And I can tell you with all due respect, we will take this matter very seriously.”
“Look at how, every day, in your house, you see the soot. I mean, how can you allow that? So, this one that we can solve, we will solve it.
“We have assured the people of Rivers State, we will fight this matter to the last until I leave office.”
Wike noted that confronting this seemingly cartel kind of business will not be easy. But, he has however, vowed to consider it as a war like situation and fight it from the standpoint of the law.
According to the governor, no matter how highly placed the perpetrators may be, they will not be spared, but confronted, apprehended and be made to face the full force of the law.
Wike has therefore directed the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN, to take over the case files of illegal crude oil refinery operators arrested by the police.
“Attorney General, all these matters with the police, you have to retrieve the files so that you can prosecute the matters on our own. I don’t want any compromise anywhere.
“And then too, it will not be on the ministry. You have to constitute a legal team. Go and get our friends all over the country, so that we can execute this prosecution to the last.
“It is a serious matter. And I’m going to take it head on. In fact, it is a war. It is not poor people doing this, they’re a cartel. You must go and arrest these people; Chief W. J. Wocha, you must arrest Fubara Ohaka, and chief Promise Ezekwe. You must arrest them.
“It doesn’t matter how highly placed you are. If you like, be the paramount ruler. In fact, any traditional ruler that is involved, pick him for me. Let him understand that the law does not respect anybody.”
Speaking further, Wike directed the Emohua Council Chairman, Dr Chidi Lloyd to locate residences where processed crude oil products are stored and let the people ascertain their sources.
Wike said the purpose of confronting this havoc is to ensure that the health of Rivers people is not further hampered by those illegal refining activities.
“If not, our people will continue to die. Even you, you’re not safe from related sicknesses like cancer. All those products in the houses; you must go after them; they must tell you where they got the products. Enough is enough.
“Look at what is happening, they are dying. I want to live. So, we must stop this illegal refinery business.
“And I have said to the Federal Government; if you’re not willing to do anything, don’t promise people anything. You told them that you will do something, how can you promise modular refinery.
“What I’m talking about is the safety of Rivers people. That is more important to me.”
Explaining the ugly experience community people had suffered, the Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Dr Chidi Lloyd noted that the problem of illegal refining activities in the area is beyond the capacity of the council to handle.
He wondered why the Federal Government which once promised to established modular refineries in the Niger Delta region has reneged on that promise.
“Thank God for your boldness. Rivers people are now aware. On a daily basis people roast and burn here. The whole Ibaa community has been taken over by this trade.
“And when you talk, they say look, if they don’t do this, they’ll go to the roads and begin to carry arms. And I say to them, you don’t dig a hole to cover another hole. Your business shouldn’t kill me.”
Earlier, the Ikwerre Local Government Chairman, Hon. Samuel Nwanosike, conducted the governor around illegal oil refining site at Ogbodo-Isiokpo in Ikwerre Local Government Area.
PDP Govs Storm PH To Consolidate On Rescue, Rebuild Nigeria Project
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors Forum would hold a special meeting, today, at the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt.
The Director General, PDP Governors Forum, Hon. Cyril I.D. Maduabum, said the meeting would review the state of the states, the state of the nation, and readiness of the PDP to provide the necessary leadership to rescue and rebuild Nigeria.
“All the elected PDP governors are expected to attend the meeting to be presided over by the Chairman of the Forum, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
“The meeting will be preceded by a gala night to be hosted by the Chief Host, Governor Nyesom Wike.
“The PDP governors are working in concert and consultations with other leaders of the party, and in particular, the Senator Iyorchia Ayu-led National Executive Committee (NEC) of PDP to craft a credible process and programme for Nigeria’s positive rebirth.”
He explained that Ayu has been invited to attend the Port Harcourt meeting to hold consultations with the governors on strategies for executing the rescue and rebuild Nigeria project.
It would be recalled that, among others, the governors would do an appraisal of ongoing reconciliatory efforts in Ekiti and Osun states where governorship elections are billed to hold this year.
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