Northern leaders, Ohanaeze, Afenifere want looters named
Seek transparency in probe of Ikoyigate, others
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and regional bodies, including the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and Northern Elders Forum (NEF) have added their voices to the calls for the Federal Government to name owners of the huge sums of money discovered at Ikoyi, Kaduna airport and other parts of the country.
The PDP said the entire episode in Ikoyi, Lagos portrayed the government’s posturing on the corruption war as a sham, just as the OPC noted that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was taking Nigerians for granted.
Although the anti-graft agency seems to have upped the tempo of its campaign to rid the nation of corruption, the calls by these groups show that it needs to do more for its activities to be considered credible.
While the Afenifere argued that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had metamorphosed into a whistle blowing agency by the developments so far, Ohanaeze on its part urged an overhaul of the anti-corruption fight.
In an interview with The Guardian, the spokesman of the Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the PDP, Chief Dayo Adeyeye, said it had become imperative for the government to name the owners of the ‘discovered funds.’
“It is ridiculous and a complete disgrace that even security agencies, which are supposed to handle the investigations with empathy, will just come out and say they have discovered money with nobody to trace,” he stated.
According to him, it is either the investigating agencies are “totally inefficient or they are covering up for some people. Are they embarrassed that the money belongs to somebody in a high hierarchy of the government?”
Adeyeye claimed that the agencies were so eager to hound and name members of the opposition even when investigations had not been conducted, insisting that this was responsible for the cases lost in courts.
He continued: “We can now see that the corruption war is a complete charade. It was just designed to humiliate the leadership of the previous government, nothing more. This is a complete disgrace; we are tired of all these circus shows.”
Similarly, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo (Jnr), said the EFCC should have been more professional in its investigation before taking action on the matter.
According to him, the anti-graft agency should have maintained surveillance around the vicinity before going public, arguing that as it is now, the organisation has found it difficult to disclose the identity of the real owner or substantiate the claim of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA).
His words: “There are rules of engagement. I could not imagine how a security agency like NIA would keep such huge cash in a private house for covert operations, instead of the Central Bank.
“Now EFCC, in its fire-brigade approach, has not made any meaningful or acceptable story out of this controversy. This is because it did not do a professional job. This simply means that the whole architecture of the fight against corruption should be revisited. Finally, Nigerians urgently need to know the real owner of the fund, its source and what it is for.”
A former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and member of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Prof. Ango Abdullahi, held that the anti-graft agency and government were being smart by half over the matter.
He said: “How can the anti-graft agency recover such huge money in a particular apartment, without knowing the identity of the owner? It is ridiculous, unbelievable and unheard of. Nigerians have the right to know the real owner of the money and government should not hesitate to disclose it. Anything short of this negates the anti-corruption fight of Buhari’s government.”
On whether government is intentionally hiding the identity of the owner, Abdullahi said it was possible, considering that before now, some people had returned money secretly without government disclosing their identities.
“But to hide the identity of the owner of recovered fund that is already in the public domain is unacceptable. It is in the interest of this government to tell Nigerians the owner of these funds and how he or she came about it,” he added.
The founder of OPC, Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, waved off the discovered funds, saying they were too humongous for anybody to believe.He noted: “In the first instance, how much does Nigeria have in the Central Bank and what is the totality of money in circulation that someone would wake up one day and be telling us that such a stupendous amount was discovered in several locations? The Buhari administration is taking us for a ride.”
The OPC leader accused the government of using propaganda to drive its anti-corruption war, adding: “This government is giving Nigerians fake figures and as such, I do not accept it as credible.”
The spokesman for Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, urged Nigerians to wait for the report of the committee set up by the government to look into the issue, but blamed the controversies surrounding the discovered funds on the poor handling by EFCC.
“The EFCC unfortunately turned itself into or behaved like a whistleblower. Sadly, few days after the Ikoyi cash discovery, over four people have been named as being the owners, which turned the entire thing to mockery and propaganda before Nigerians,” he stated.The Secretary General, Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS), Tony Uranta, said he expected the EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, to have the details and audit of all the money recovered so far by the commission.
He said: “Nigerian are anxiously waiting to see these details and those linked to the recovered money, otherwise the anti-corruption drive of the Buhari administration will be tainted.”
Also yesterday, a coalition of concerned youths in Niger accused the EFCC of high-handedness, especially over the continued incarceration of a former governor in the state, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu.
In a statement in Minna by one Comrade Tanimu Maiwayo, the group sought his immediate release or arraignment in court.Meanwhile, Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose, has faulted the president’s “persistent absence from state functions, especially the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meetings,” asking if the administration was governing the country by proxy.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, the governor said it was becoming obvious that a group of cabal is exercising the powers of the president.
He said: “Every day, what we hear is president said this, president said that without seeing the president at any official function and one is prompted to ask: where is the president?
“I saw the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal on television responding to his suspension and what came to my mind was that there could actually be many presidents operating in Buhari’s presidency.”