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EFCC And 2011 Polls

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Recently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had submitted an advisory list containing names of prominent politicians, former and serving public officers, alleged to have one case or another pending before various courts in the country.

The list contained at least 100 names with 40 prominent politicians whom the commission said should be barred from running for elective offices in the forthcoming 2011 elections.

The EFCC’s intention as speculated, may not be unconnected with a purported pre-emptive measure to stop or dashing the hope of some politicians with ambition to contest election in 2011.

The list had generated furore and negative reactions from prominent citizens in the country. Some believed that EFCC has become political tool in the hands of privileged government officials as instrument of intimidation against perceived political opponents.

The Chief of Staff to the Rivers State Government House, Hon. Nyesom Wike, whose name was conspicuously  mentioned said: “it is a political vendetta.

Some citizens also saw the EFCC are institution and instrument poised to witch hunt perceived political opponents that refused to tow their political ideology.

This no doubt was said to be the ugly face of the commission under the erstwhile chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

The them EFCC chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu’s similar advisory list caused serious political uproar prior to the 2007 general elections.

The dust generated a number of controversial tendencies with the disqualification of the PDP governorship candidate in Rivers State now incumbent Governor, Rt Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, Chief Peter Okocha, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) governorship candidate in Delta State and former vice president, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, among others.

With determination and courage, they fought their cases to the Supreme Court where the Supreme Court judgments gave them victory at the end of the day.

However, the questions agitating the minds of concerned Nigerians are whether the EFCC has such powers to stop any politician from contesting the forthcoming election based on the advisory list?

Will the 64 registered political parties in Nigeria accept the advisory list to act upon it thereof?

Is EFCC now usurping the constitutional functions of the law courts as to stop candidates without any conviction by the court?

However, perusing the law setting up the anti graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act 2004), the EFCC was charged with among others functions, the duties of investigation of all financial crimes including advance  fee fraud, money laundering, counterfeiting, illegal charge transfers, future market fraud, fraudulent encashment of negotiable instruments, computer credit card fraud, contract scam etc.

Also, the EFCC shall adopt any measures to identify, trace, freeze, confiscate or seize proceeds derived from terrorist activities, economic and financial crimes related offences or the properties, the value of which corresponds to such proceeds.

Again, EFCC has such function of the examination and investigation of all reported cases of economic and financial crimes with a view to identifying individuals, corporate bodies or groups. From the legal perspective therefore, EFCC was not charged with the responsibility of stopping any candidate from contesting elections or to compile any advisory list to the political parties.

A prominent legal practitioner based in Port Harcourt, Barr. Awanen Jas, said the EFCC lacked the power to advise political parties on whom they should endorse for elections.

The legal luminary added that until a person is convicted by a law court, nobody has the right to stop a person from standing for election.

“EFCC has no powers under the law establishing the anti-graft agency to stop any aspirant”, he declares.

Also speaking to The Tide, an Attorney at law of the OLORI                                                               EGBE & Co Port Harcourt law office, Olubisi Mikail Afolabi, Esq, said the political parties should disregard the EFCC’s advisory list as the agency cannot constitute itself unto a court of law to stop any candidate vying for elective position.

Mikail Afolabi added that it is only court of law of competent jurisdiction having found any politician guilty of corruption and upon conviction can such politician be stopped from contesting election and not mere EFCC’s advisory list.

Also speaking to The Tide exclusively, in Port Harcourt, the Chief of staff to the Rivers State Governor and former chairman, Obio/Akpor local government area, Chief Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, whose name was among the names on the EFCC advisory list faulted the inclusion of his name by the anti-graft agency in the advisory list to the political parties, said that he has no case to answer before the anti-graft agency.

He stated that EFCC should not be a political tool to be used to witch- hunt politicians with integrity and willingness to serve their constituency.

Chief Wike added that EFCC wrongly included his name in the advisory list of politicians having cases pending against them in court.

The Chief of Staff emphasised that the case between him and the EFCC which started in 2008, originating from his arraignment by the EFCC before Abuja High Court and then to the Court of Appeal Abuja, presided over by His Lordship Justice Ayobode Olokulo-Sodipe, where the Appeal Court ruled in his favour by quashing such criminal case against him.

He further explained that from March 2009, when the Court of Appeal discharged and acquitted him of any wrong doing, the EFCC has not appealed against that judgment or any case against him to warrant his name being listed by the commission.

However, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, Dr Ishmael Guorima, had a contrary opinion. He said the EFCC’s advisory list is timely to the political parties to be careful with certain candidate being considered to be fielded for elective position.

The senior lecturer said the EFCC’s advisory list is a welcome development and a clear departure of the modus operadi of EFCC under Malam Nuhu Ribadu.

He said the list to the political parties is to advise the parties that, “please they should look before they leap in fielding candidates”.

However, the various political parties have the discretionary power to field any candidate they consider as their choice, if such a candidate wins the primaries of the parties.

It is the consensus opinion that EFCC should be guided by law in its operations to avoid being used as political tool thereby defeat the noble objective of its primary responsibilities of fighting corruption. 

 

Philip-Wuwu Okparaji

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2023: Southern PDP Leaders Consider Fresh Option

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Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Southern 17 states have begun move to ensure that the presidential ticket is secured by an aspirant from one of the three geo-political zones.
In the alternative, they are also looking at a northerner with strong roots in the South.
The plan, according to sources, is to have a second strategy or an Option B, as it has become obvious that the party leadership will not yield to the demand for the presidential ticket to be specifically zoned to the South.
The Southern leaders are moving to ensure that their delegates vote only for either a particular southern aspirant or to adopt a northern candidate, who is not from the far North.
The strategy of the southern PDP leaders behind this plot is to ensure that the outcome of the PDP primary produces a win-win situation for the South, irrespective of where the candidates come from.
A chieftain, who spoke on phone, said: “We want to ensure that the South converts the disadvantage of the PDP refusing to zone the presidential position to the South in line with the rotation arrangement in the party’s constitution becomes a benefit to us.
“We will work to ensure that the South decides who the presidential candidate is, even if he is not from our zone.
“Southern delegates may come together and choose a northern candidate who has strong roots in the South. He must be somebody who has a close affinity and filial relationship with us. He must be somebody who understands the challenges facing the South and can run a government that is based on equity, justice and inclusiveness, and knows what it is to suffer injustice or the pains of the minority.”
“It is the reason why we will not support aspirants from the far North. We will rather support an aspirant whose zone has not produced any of the two positions in the Presidency. An ideal candidate for the PDP is somebody from either the South or the Northern minority.
“It is the only way we can show that without having a southern candidate; we can have a president who believes he owes the South and that the support of the southern delegates is instrumental to his victory. That means that if the South plays its card very well, it can produce a southern candidate from the North.”

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Buhari To Determine Malami,Other Returning Ministers’ Fate – Lai Mohammed

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President Muhammadu Buhari will decide the fate of those members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) who made a u-turn on their political ambitions and continue to serve in the current administration.
Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this Wednesday to newsmen after the FEC meeting at the State House, Abuja, said he will need to confirm from the president the status of the returning ministers on whether or not they have been reabsorbed into the cabinet.
He said: “The  question about ministers returning or not going, I think you need to give me more time so that I can tell you exactly what the situation is. Right now, I need to cross check. I need to confirm again from Mr President what the situation is. You see the final decision on who is going, who’s coming back, who’s not going lies with Mr. President.”
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige; his Women Affairs counterpart, Dame Pauline Tallen; Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timpre Sylva, had earlier rescinded their decision to contest for elective offices in 2023.
Malami was physically present at Wednesday’s Council meeting, while Tallen and Sylva attended the meeting virtually from their various offices in Abuja.
Ngige is said to be away on official engagement in Durban, South Africa, where he is attending the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) global conference on Child Labour.

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2023: Ganduje Refuses To Endorse Amaechi For Presidency

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Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has refused to endorse the former Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, for the presidency come 2023.
Amaechi visited Kano on Wednesday as part of his consultations ahead of the All Progressives Congress’ presidential primary.
The former minister had resigned from President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet to pursue his presidential ambition under the platform of the APC.
At the meeting, with other APC stakeholders present, Ganduje said Kano as a “swing state, will continue to swing.”
He added that Amaechi would know where the state eventually swung to at the right time.
TheTide source gathered that Amaechi, who had told the governor that the people in the APC already knew where Ganduje’s loyalty was, added that he was in Kano to convince him that he was the most qualified among the aspirants.
Our source recalled that when Amaechi visited the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, he was equally not endorsed as the governor told him former Governor Bola Tinubu was their rallying point.
Ganduje is also known to be an ally of Tinubu, who is also aspiring for the Presidency.
Meanwhile, Amaechi said he was more qualified than Tinubu, noting that the former Lagos governor had never been a minister, and even as a lawmaker, Tinubu only served for a few months.
He equally noted that he was more qualified than Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, adding that while Osinbajo was a commissioner in Lagos, he was already a Speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly.

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