Stop Persecuting Our People, PANDEF To EFCC
The Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), has condemned, in strong terms, the alleged recurring persecution and harassment of persons from the South-South geopolitical zone by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over alleged cases of corruption.
PANDEF, in a statement, by its National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, noted that the continued “media trial” and persecution of former public office holders, particularly from the South-South zone and other parts of Southern Nigeria, by the anti-graft agency, “is not only unethical but despicable and irksome.”
It urged the anti-graft body to stop the egregious practice, stressing, “according to our laws, an accused is ‘innocent until proven guilty’ by a competent court of law.”
The statement reads “PANDEF as a responsible organisation would not condone corruption in any way but it is the flagrancy and snobbery with which the EFCC carries out its operations that is upsetting. The EFCC has continued to conduct its operations in a manner that depicts complete disrespect for the rule of law and fundamental human rights of citizens, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“More disturbing is the selectiveness of its operations; from 2016 to date, under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, not less than 30 high profile persons from the South-South geopolitical zone have been harassed, persecuted and prosecuted, mostly, in the ‘court of public opinion’, rather than procedural prosecution in competent courts of law.
“Our people have continued to be maligned and denigrated by the EFCC and other state agencies; some have been hassled to death. These issues are well documented in the public sphere. Let EFCC stop persecuting our people!
“The case of retired Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah, a former Chief of Army Staff, is one of the most preposterous. The periodic resurgence of so-called charges against Minimah and two other serving senior Army officers, in the media, since 2016, further substantiates concerns in the region that there is a determined schedule by antagonists of the South-South geopolitical zone, and indeed, the Niger Delta region; to humiliate and discredit prominent persons from the region, to erode the zone of credible leadership.
“It appears to us that the nation’s anti-graft agencies, the EFCC, in particular, have an established protocol whereby persons from certain parts of the country and certain religions are saints, while any person from the south-south zone and the Niger Delta is culpable.
“Just as the unfathomable manner in which former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, was forced out of office remains an indelible signpost of the biases and injustice against the people of the South-South geopolitical zone.
“These situations are unacceptable and must stop forthwith. This country belongs to all of us. No section owns Nigeria more than the others.
“PANDEF is mindful of the fact that the General Minimah matter is before the courts, therefore, will not comment on its specifics and substance, but the reckless and gross misconduct of the EFCC requires censure.
“It is necessary to note that General Minimah and the other Army officers had earlier gone to a Federal High Court to challenge the said suit, mainly the procedure, and seeking whether the court was competent to entertain the matter. The Federal High Court had fixed the hearing of the suit by Minimah & Co on December 9, 2021.
“But, in its usual disregard for due process and the rule of law, the EFCC defied the suit and on December 8, 2021, the eve of the suit released a statement to the media that it had charged Minimah and the other senior officers to court over an alleged diversion of N13billion meant for procurement of arms.
“Not minding that there was already a subsisting court judgment barring it from arraigning the retired General and the two others.
“It bears recalling that Justice I. E. Ekwo of Federal High Court had on December 6, 2020, ruled in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1595/2020 between Lt.-Gen K.T.J. Minimah (rtd), Maj-Gen A. O. Adetayo and Brig.-Gen R. I. Odi as plaintiffs/applicants and Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as defendants/respondents, that all parties in the suit maintain status-quo antebellum, pending the hearing and final determination of the Motion on Notice.
“The EFCC action again demonstrated the propensity of the anti-graft agency for engaging in malicious and unjust blighting of people’s reputation, more than fighting corruption.
“Accordingly, it may be necessary to re-echo some questions piquing the minds of well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians; why would the EFCC not obey court judgments? Is the EFCC above the law? Is the anti-graft agency dancing to tunes of persons afraid of General Minimah; bent on smearing the name and image of the retired gallant general and the nation’s former Chief of Army Staff?
“Is this the way to reward a man who had dedicated his life and service to the protection of the territorial integrity and unity of the Nigerian State? Or is it because of where he comes from? Let the truth be said, if General Minimah were a “Fulani” would EFCC or any other state agency be allowed to disparage his reputation?
“PANDEF readily notes that General Minimah, during his meritorious career in the Army, spanning over three decades; served at different levels in the Nigerian Army before he was appointed Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in January, 2014. He served as the General Officer Commanding 81 Division; Commanding Officer of the 149 Infantry Battalion; Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Battalion 2, Commandant Officer of the Nigerian Army School of Infantry and was also the Director of Standards and Combat Readiness of the Nigerian Army, at different times.
“He also served with the 72 Para-Battalion in Liberia. He was the Commanding Officer of Nigerian Battalion II with the United Nations Mission in Serra Leone.
“Perhaps, more importantly, during his period as Chief of Army Staff, it is established that the Nigerian Army turned the tide against the Boko Haram terrorists; leading to their defeat and recapture of all Nigerian territories that were hitherto under the control of the insurgents and holding of elections in those LGAs.
“PANDEF, emphatically, demand the immediate stop to these shenanigans by the EFCC against General Minimah, and indeed, any other son or daughter of the South-South Geopolitical Zone and the Niger Delta region.
“It is also pertinent to ask why a federal agency like the EFCC will be dominated by only Northern Muslims and Fulanis – to the extent that Hausa is reportedly the Lingua Franca at the agency – in a multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria.
“PANDEF, therefore, further calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to order an immediate re-organization of personnel of the agency to reflect federal character, and erase the tint that it is a tribal/religious investigation agency, out to persecute persons from other sections of the country.
“Is it not worrisome that only former governors from the South, besides Jolly Nyame and Joshua Dariye, both Christians, have been jailed by the EFCC; former Governor David Jonah Jang is also being tried, while other Northerner ex-governors, even those with established cases of corruption, are let off the hook?
“PANDEF, meanwhile, applauds and commends the Nigerian Judiciary for its courage and steadfastness in upholding justice, and for not capitulating to the apparent acts of intimidation by state agents. It is necessary to note that without the firmness of the Judiciary, the country would have been in the worst state than we are witnessing now, in terms of the violation of citizens’ fundamental human rights.”
Wike Urges Traditional Rulers To Engender Peace …As Awuse Heads Chiefs’ Council
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged traditional rulers to engender peace in their domain at all times.
He maintained that no government can progress without peace, stressing that it is the responsibility of traditional rulers to always galvanize and support the growth of their various kingdom through the sustenance of peace.
Wike stated this during the presentation of certificate of recognition and staff of office to six newly recognised traditional rulers in the state in the presence of the new Chairman of Rivers State Traditional Rulers Council, His Royal Majesty, Nne-Nwe-Eli Emohua XIII (OLO IV), Ohna Sergeant Chidi Awuse , at Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Wike,who identified peace as necessary ingredient in the process of governance, warned the traditional rulers against using their position to harass companies operating in their domain.
He particularly admonished the Gbenemene Tai Kingdom, His Royal Majesty, King Samuel Lebara Aadum Nnee, who was recognized as first class traditional ruler to use his new position to enthrone peace in Tai Kingdom for the overall interest of the people.
The five other recognised traditional rulers are all in the second class category. They include His Royal Highness, Eze Chukwuemeka Victor Elvis Nmeham Woji Okocha Orlumeni XII, Nye Nwe-Ali Rumuorlumeni; His Royal Highness, Eze (Dr) Wobodo Sunday Jonah, Nye Nwe-Ali Ibaa/Obelle; His Royal Highness, Ohna Christian Okchineke Elechi, Nye Nwe-Eli Odegu; His Royal Highness, Eze Damian Azike Ejiohuo, Nye Nwe-Ali Rundele XII, Nogbo II; and His Royal Highness, Eze Christian Amadi Evekwuru – Eze Chigu Rumuekpe.
I’m Leaving Nigeria Better Than I Met It In 2015, Buhari Boasts …Apologises For Negative Impacts On Nigerians
President Muhammadu Buhari has said he was confident that he would be leaving office with Nigeria better in 2023 than he met it in 2015.
Buhari made this known in his farewell nationwide broadcast yesterday
“I am confident that I am leaving office with Nigeria better in 2023 than in 2015. I thank you all. And may God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Buhari said.
He also appreciated millions of Nigerians who prayed and supported him during his illness in the first term of his office.
The President said he is constantly praying for those who helped him succeed and for Nigeria to thrive in peace.
He said, “I also want to use this opportunity to express my appreciation to a good number of Nigerians who provided their support and encouragement to help me navigate the exciting journey in moving Nigeria forward.
“I cannot and will not forget the millions who prayed for me during my illness in my first term of office. I am constantly praying for you and for Nigeria to thrive in peace.
“As I retire home to Daura, Katsina State, I feel fulfilled that we have started the Nigeria Re-Birth by taking the initial critical steps and I am convinced the in-coming administration will quicken the pace of this walk to see a Nigeria that fulfils its destiny to be a great nation.”
The President also apologised to Nigerians over the negative impact some of his economic policies inflicted on them.
He noted that some of his policies caused “temporary pain and suffering” to Nigerians.
According to him, “some of the decisions were difficult choices, the measures were taken for the overall good of the country”.
Buhari explained that, “In the course of revamping the economy, we made some difficult choices, most of which yielded the desired results.
“Some of the measures led to temporary pain and suffering for which I sincerely apologise to my fellow countrymen, but the measures were taken for the overall good of the country”.
Buhari will hand over power to Bola Tinubu, the president-elect, this morning.
Wike Honours El-Rufai, Fayemi, Fubara, Others
The outgoing governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has conferred the highest Rivers State honours, the Grand Service Star of Rivers State (GSSRS), on eight personalities in the country.
The recipients include governors of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma; Mallam Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) and Rivers’ governor-elect, Sir Siminialayi Fubara.
Others were the governors of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa); former governors of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio; John Olukayode Fayemi (Ekiti), and Senator Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari (Zamfara).
Governor Wike, while delivering his valedictory speech at a State and honours award night in Port Harcourt on Saturday night, said the second, third, and fourth- categories of honourees cut across a broader spectrum of society.
The governor said the seven governors and former governors honoured by the State belong to the country’s highly intelligent, committed, and hardworking servant-leaders who have distinguished themselves in public service with phenomenal performance records.
“Most of all, they are prominent power brokers among the Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who signed, undertook, and worked day and night to deliver our collective aspirations for a southern president in the 2023 general elections at significant risks to their political lives.
“Their lives, reputation, exploits, and achievements are like open books, so we all know who and what they are, what they stand for, and which interests they represent and project. They have proven to be leaders made for the times rather than the ones the times and circumstances accidentally produced.
“We honour and celebrate these fellow compatriots’ inspirational achievements, exemplary leadership, profound service, love for the motherland, and contributions to national cohesion, democracy, equity, and justice”, Wike said.
The governor noted that the inception of his administration was rough and turbulent, because the then outgoing governor, Rotimi Amaechi, was very hostile and rancorous.
According to him, he also met an empty State treasury, huge public debts, a hostile political environment, and a hostile Federal Government that turned against his government, courtesy of the former governor.
“He initially struggled to prevent us from being sworn in by going to three different courts for restraining orders. When this failed, he challenged our electoral victory and had it nullified at the tribunal and the Court of Appeal.
“Our mandate was restored by the Supreme Court after nearly one year of legal battles. But, all three senatorial seats, a sizeable number of the House of Representatives, and over half of the State House of Assembly seats were nullified, leaving the State without representation at the National Assembly and a functional State House of Assembly. Our candidates for these offices were later subjected to a series of tempestuous re-runs before some managed to reclaim their mandates”, he recalled.
Wike accused Amaechi of laying social and economic landmines such as the shut down the State House of Assembly complex and courts with the sole intent to cripple his administration.
He alleged that having decimated the State’s governance institutions, Amaechi shifted his targets to the State’s treasury, including the statutory reserved funds, and emptied it with impunity.
According to him, “He (Amaechi) sold our valued assets, realized over $415,000,000.00 (four and fifteen million United States Dollars), and siphoned it entirely out of the State’s treasury in under two weeks. He embarked on some bogus projects he never intended to execute but to serve as conduit pipes to fritter State resources for himself, political cronies, and business partners.
“The less than one-kilometre monorail project, the multi-story Karibi-Whyte Hospital, the new Rivers State University, the Greater Port Harcourt City, and the M10 road projects are some of the elephant projects he purportedly initiated but failed at foundation levels after expending billions of public funds. He piled up debts by stopping to pay contractors and salaries to civil servants and other categories of workers, including pensioners and sportsmen and women.”
Despite initial challenges that beset his administration, the governor said he was able to overcome them to reposition the judiciary, delivered unprecedented 12 flyovers and constructed over 900 kilometres of Trunk-A roads and over 200 kilometres of internal roads across the State.
The governor boasted that Rivers State would remain a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) State for the foreseeable future, saying however, that the interest of Rivers State transcends political party confines and affiliations.
He maintained that it is the right of the people of Rivers State to participate in decision-making at the highest level as well as follow the political path that guarantees a better deal for the State and people.
“Accordingly, we made the right choice when we opted for unity, equity, fairness, and justice in our consideration for a Southern Presidency during the 2023 general elections. I assure you that we are in the right direction. Rivers State is politically connected to the Centre and will be better for it more than ever this time. There is nothing to regret.”
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