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RIGHTSView: WANTED: CITIZENS’ BAIL OUT OF EFCC

By Emmanuel Onwubiko on 18/12/2013

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My friend of over four years who works in one of the first generation financial institutions in the nation’s capital of Abuja and goes by the name Mr. Stan called me up on the phone a little after 5am yesterday, Tuesday, December 17, 2013, to give me the bad news. He informed that the nation’s so-called foremost anti-graft fighting agency – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] – had publicly acknowledged what has always been speculated in the grapevine that the current administration has stifled the advancement and progress of work going on in the place by ensnaring the commission with some notorious and  knotty bureaucratic bottlenecks now mounted around the financial well-being of that establishment, the EFCC.

He told me that he had just read in the press that the Secretary of the EFCC had appeared before the Anti-Narcotics Committee of the National Assembly following an oversight invitation and informed the members that the anti-graft commission has a little more than N2 million in its vaults at the moment and that it is insolvent so much so that it cannot meet up with its statutory funding commitments to her staff and clients. Among these clients are the bulk of private lawyers drawn from a particular circle of law firms that act as prosecutors in most of its high profile criminal cases involving politically exposed former and current political office holders in the various divisions of the state and federal high courts, the Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The commission has over one hundred pending cases bordering on alleged theft of  humonguous amount of money running into tens of billions of United States Dollars.

I excused myself and went back to sleep but sleep failed to return even as I started sweating in the midst of the air conditioning system that was working optimally. I therefore decided to on my own approach the websites of major news media in Nigeria and behold I read for myself that indeed the EFCC is broke and reportedly has only N2 million in its accounts to run its operations. One fact from that story appeared very confusing when the Secretary of that commission – an agency of government that lately is gradually  but  has sadly started sliding into the abyss of credibility deficit – is the statement that the chief scribe of the anti-graft body admitted that once the current wage bills are cleared, the commission will likely close shop if the relevant financial agencies of the Federal Government still fail to release the budgetary provisions appropriated for it in the year 2013 Appropriation Act by the National Assembly. I then wanted to find out if the EFCC conceded to having only N2 million in its account how come that it may be able to pay the staff emoluments for the month of December except the commission’s scribe is saying that the staff of that important commission are paid less than living wages and/or if the staff strength of that anti-graft panel does not exceed one dozen.

Away from that necessary question, one other salient fact that refuses to fade away is the fact that the Federal Government officials who stridently denied the claims by the Rivers State governor Chief Rotimi Amaechi that virtually Nigeria’s entire external savings have been vandalised and stolen by Federal Government officials and also blasted the Central Bank Governor Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi for crying wolf over the allegation that $49 Billion has so far developed wings this year from NNPC into private pockets rather than into the Federation Account, cannot now defend the obscene and offensive reality that it has financially starved the EFCC to the disgraceful extent of now becoming a corporate beggar carrying plastic plates to the National Assembly to ask for institutional bail out. All patriotic Nigerians must be considerably alarmed that we have reached the stage whereby if we cross the bridge of uncertainty and allow the EFCC to finally implodes and crash before our very faces then the looters in government and all those co-looters working as cronies in the corridors-of-power will have feast days and believe that indeed Nigerians are now a conquered population.

Thisis indeed a time for national sober reflection, deep introspection and soul searching to come out with the fastest citizen-driven panacea to this debilitating institutional crisis facing the EFCC which in any case is a carefully choreographed and plotted strategy to kill the commission  by the elites and give the itching fingers in public offices the opportunities of their lives to steal and bleed corporate Nigeria to eventual existential demise if the citizens fail in their track to rescue this important commission and campaign vigourously for the revival of the leadership structure of this body to be made up of men and women of high integrity who can not be compromised or frightened by the prospect of losing their jobs should they expose all the corrupt elements that are currently influential in the corridors of power in Abuja and across the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory.

One of the ways to bail out the EFCC is for the most active citizens to wake up from slumber and begin massive campaign and advocacy to put government officials in Abuja and their respective representatives in the National Assembly to use the instrumentality of the law to compel the relevant Federal agency of government to release forthwith the appropriated sums meant for the operations of the EFCC to save the agency from the sudden death that some persons have dreamt and indeed actively plotted to see it come to pass in order to give them the license to freely loot our financial resources that ought to be used to build better functional infrastructure and effectively train human capital of Nigerians especially the millions of younger Nigerians.

Secondly, Nigerians should begin to write letters and make phone calls to the state governors and even to the finance minister urging them to stand up to be counted and ensure that this EFCC does not die. All credible civil society groups and leaders must support this initiative by way of making available free recharge cards to university students for the purposes of executing this assignment and importantly by publishing for the general public the direct lines of all high profile government officials on social media for Nigerians to see and make use of. By this I am recommending the strategy marketed by one of Nigeria’s relentless campaigners of good governance Mr. Sonala Olumhese who had urged Nigerian students few weeks back during the strike action by the academic staff union of universities [that just ended after five months] to demand that the Senators and Federal House of Representaves members compel both the Federal Government and the then striking university teachers to reach a truce and reopen the public universities to save the educational future of the Nigerian youth especially children of the poorest of the poor. Similar step can indeed work magic in making the transformational politicians in Abuja to wake up and discharge their constitutional duties by funding all relevant anti-graft agencies to do their work of strangulating corruption and saving Nigeria from imminent economic collapse and recession.

The next strategy will be to implore the sleeping ‘giant’ – The Nigerian Labour Congress –

to wake up from slumber and organise all progressive elements within and without government circles to a MOTHER OF ALL PROTESTS to get the Federal Government to redress the financial crisis threatening to destroy the EFCC by ordering the Finance Ministry and the NNPC to trace the missing huge revenue of Nigeria from crude oil sold in foreign jurisdictions but suddenly stolen and diverted into private pockets and return same to the government treasury so agencies like the EFCC, among others, remain afloat and do not get killed through what the late Musician and legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti will call GOVERNMENT MAGIC. The last option if the three others aforementioned fail to work is to appeal to all patriotic Nigerians who truly love Nigeria and good governance to donate their quota from their earning by way of tithes to be paid directly into EFCC’s bank account to enable it get back on its feet and refuse to allow big time thieves in government offices have the last laugh or alternatively let every good Nigerian get sharp stones for use in throwing at the direction of all perceived corrupt government officials since we have just been told that politicians steal because we the people of Nigeria have not started stoning them. So if the corrupt politicians succeed in killing EFCC let us individually get our stones and buy catapult to stone these thieving politicians that come our way. The Federal Government officials are advised in their enlightened self interest to fund all the good and critical anti-graft agencies to enable them continue with their good work or these Federal officials should be ready to be pummeled with stones by the people of Nigeria fed up with the suffocating corruption that has threatened the corporate Nigeria from existence.

RIGHTSVIEW appears thrice a week on Mondays, Wednesday and Saturdays. The Columnist, popular activist Emmanuel Onwubiko, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).

Source News Express

Posted 19/12/2013 12:08:42 AM

 

 

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