BY: IFEANYICHUKWU NWANNAH
As the senate intensifies efforts to investigate the financial activities of the Economic and financial crime commission (EFCC) over the several scandals involving some officials of the commission following series of allegations of corruption by Nigerians especially the allegation against its chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde for diverting N1 trillion from the proceeds of loots recovered from corrupt public office holders, Nigerians expect that no stone should be left unturned.
But in a swift reaction recently at the BBC Hausa service, Ibrahim Lamorde said he is not afraid of the probe, pointing out that it is not easy to corner N1 trillion recovered by the anti-graft commission. He however agreed that huge amount of money was recovered from corrupt Nigerians which he said cut across the Federal, states, and local governments etc, saying that the facts are there but that he needed time to put the facts together. According to him, the petitioner against him is currently facing trail by the commission which he said that Nigerians should know and differentiate between reality and fabricated allegations.
Opinion makers are of the view that since the senate wants to carve a niche for itself by investigating the financial activities of the commission, the probe should not be limited to only Lamorde’s tenure, adding that there are allegations by Nigerians that the commission is characterized by abuse of office and highhandedness since its establishment in 2000. The commission is further accused of sabotaging the law that establishes it without any consideration to enthrone financial accountability which in their own views makes corruption and mismanagement of public fund visible in all the sectors of the economy. The believe is that the commission has not achieved any credibility from the beginning of its inception, and Nigerian have never got any orientation for change so as to get the country back on its proper footing. They said that if the senate must be justified, the probe can leave the commissions and other related institutions on moral trial by prosecuting corrupt public office holders without fear or favour to engender a new system.
Even through Mr. Lamorde claims that he is being witch haunted because notable person who petitioned against him is facing investigation by his commission over alleged corrupt practice, the federal law makers cannot fold their hands and close their eyes to the allegations made by Nigerians to probe corrupt practices involving public office holders considering the fact that Nigeria has lost trillions of naira to corruption especially in the past 16 years of PDP unfortunate rule. The 8th National Assembly is therefore expected to put justice above everything and come out with measures against monumental corruption in the country which is no longer news even to the rural dwellers and uneducated.
When former president Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo took over the reign of power in 1999, he established two anti-graft commissions to inquire into allegations of corruption and the trial of suspected corrupt Nigerians to strengthen the system but sad enough that all these were to no avail. These commissions uncovered the diversion of billions of naira belonging to Nigeria, states and Local Governments and many public office holders were convicted of misappropriation of public funds and abuse of office but nobody can pin point exactly the where about of these recovered monies.
Nigerians are still wondering the where about of the Abacha’s family loot running to hundreds billions of dollars yet the anti-graft commissions have not get rid of corruption in the country neither have they put any measure in place to the effect. The EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in 2000 and 2004 respectively have not cleared the coast as regard to the total amount recovered and where they are.
These however forced the pundits to be insinuating for the scrapping of these commissions as there are doubts about their activities because there is no transparency as they have failed to live up to expectation by uprooting corruption in high and low places even with petitions from Nigerians. Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, the EFCC chairman confirmed recently that many suspected Nigerians were convicted and a huge amount of money recovered with prosperities from corrupt politicians which he said cut across the Federal, State and Local Governments etc yet there is no telling effect in the nation’s economy. The pundits observed that there are flaws in the activities of these agencies.
They believe that the rule of law is not being followed noting that something is very wrong with the system and that such system cannot help the country to win its war against corruption unless these nagging problems are removed.
The activities of EFCC, ICPC and other related agencies have failed to produce any beneficial result since their establishment and most Nigerians are yearning for the scrapping or restructuring of these institutions and force those who illegally looted public funds to refund them no matter whose ox is gored and in addition make them to forfeit all they have acquired dubiously from the nation’s treasury. These they said can be done through the force of law.
But before these can be done, credible Nigerians whose characters and records are not questionable can be made to sit in the place of justice otherwise the president will be fighting unwinnable war against corruption and the menace will continue to bedevil the country. As the president Buhari pointed out “As far as the constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria allows me, I will try to ensure that there is responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in country”.
This Nigerians are fully behind him praying that God should help him in this tough war.
Before now Nigerian had described the anti-graft agencies as the federal government tools to deal with its political opponents. But it is very unfortunate that commissions working against corruption can be adulterated. Then where is the country heading to?
It is generally believe that if all the monies recovered from corrupt public office holders are returned to the federal coffers, Nigeria wouldn’t have been in this economic woe she finds herself today.
There are many top government officials even at the state level who were said to have purchased brand new flashy and expensive cars for their children who are still in the schools and their family members. Most of these public office holders have done their best towards lavishing public monies on their family members. Apart from completing and buying estates and mansions in expensive areas in Nigeria and overseas yet no body quarries the source of their ill gotten wealth. They have made Nigeria a center of laxity to most of the graceless Nigerians. Ranges of flashy cars and mansions are being competed between them but they never cared about encouraging positive initiations that can faster the growth of the country and its citizens.
A leader who is greedy and refuses to follow due process of law in whatever transactions that is made on behalf of the authority or his employers is nothing but dubious and hence corrupt. Some who divert properties and public funds or inflate contraction obligation with intension to cheat is a corrupt leader.
However, with the President Buhari’s crusade against corruption, we should know the stand of corrupt public office holders. Extending the anti mischief crusade to all sectors of the economy, there are move traps especially the big shots who think that they are sacred cows. Of the years of abuse in terms of financial control that finally get matured in the hands of those who feel that since they are at the helm of affairs and are protected by immunity even when Nigerians are dying of hunger and starvation, it is clear to all now that Nigeria has come to a classy performance as the President is disturbed with the situation of corruption in the country.
The lines of investigation suggested by many patriotic Nigerians should be seriously pursued by the President and his team for economic recovery.