By Omoleye Omoruyi
The existence of corruption is one of the greatest challenges facing Nigeria today; and it upsets virtually all aspects of the nation’s socio-economic life – it is can be said to be a reason why the poverty level remain high.
An attempt by the Federal Government to restrain this ‘demon’ led to the establishment of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices & Related Offences Commission (ICPC) among others bodies.
Since its inception in 2003, political undertones, media trials and issues of government intervention have marred the anti-corruption fight. One, therefore, wonders if we should really be supporting these bodies, who sometimes display some level of leanings towards the incumbent government at the time and tend to ‘go after’ – at least mostly – only political opponents of the said incumbent.
In September 2006, the EFCC, under the leadership of Nuhu Ribadu had 31 of Nigeria’s 36 state governors under investigation for corruption. We did not get to hear the end of any of it, as some of those cases are still in court till today and the events of that period are just a reminder of what should be happening now with the governor of Kano, Umar Ganduje but what is the case?
Four different videos have been released by a news medium, Daily Nigerian, showing Ganduje receiving kickbacks. The governor has denied receiving any kind of bribe but that is not even the case.
The law enforcement agency that is supposed to investigate financial crimes such as what the videos tell the world have chosen to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear.
The Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, on Monday at a press briefing in Abuja, refused to answer a question on bribery allegations against Ganduje.
When asked to speak on the issue, he responded: “Next question please”.
Magu, instead decided to talk about how the agency was seeking to extradite former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, because the UK authorities failed to take legal action against her. That is also another one we will like to follow to the end but Ganduje’s case is not any less important. At least, we saw how the body ‘trolled’ and ‘followed’ the former governor of Ekiti, Ayodele Fayose and kept him in custody for a while, immediately after he stepped down.
This shows how consciously DEPENDENT the body is.
EFCC’s silence and the President’s deafening silence, maybe on the note that he might not want to lose the 5 million votes promised by the governor in 2019, is one that calls for concern.
In a saner clime, the EFCC would have issued statements, we do not need to hear from the president that investigations are going on; this should be from the anti-corruption institutions. The least the government will do if the pressure continues is to push for the removal of Ganduje.
The EFCC has instead remained quite silent on the videos showing Ganduje stocking dollars in his agbada until more recently when President Buhari said, “we gave the videos to security agencies for vetting. And we will surely take action on the matter if he is found guilty.”
Meanwhile, the only move made to investigate these videos has been blocked twice by a court.
A Kano High Court on Monday upheld its earlier order halting the state House of Assembly Investigative Committee from investigating the bribery allegation against Ganduje.
The court also ordered all other parties involved in the investigation of the bribery allegation to maintain status quo ante pending the determination of the originating summon.
When the case came up for hearing, counsel to the plaintiff, Kalid Abdullatif, said that going by Order 29, Rule 1 and Order 28, Rule 1 and 4 of the Rules of the Court, 2014, the application filed on behalf of the plaintiff on November 5, restraining the defendants, Kano state House of Assembly, Baffa Babba Danagundi and the state Attorney-General from further investigation of the bribery allegation, still subsist.
“The application still remains an Order of interlocutory injunction, restraining the defendants, either by themselves, agents, privies, or officials, or other persons, whosoever, from further inviting anybody, questioning, examining, making any further Press Releases, releasing or playing any further video tapes, investigation or further proceedings, with the, or any bribery allegation against Gov. Ganduje, or anybody, whatsoever, therewith, pending the determination of the substantive suit before this Honourable Court,” he said.
He further argued that the act of the defendants to have constituted a Committee to investigate the bribery allegation against Governor Ganduje remains, “unconstitutional.”
These only point to one thing…this case might end up like the hundreds of corruption cases before the EFCC, especially since the said governor is a ‘friend’ of the President and the anti-corruption is less independent than it should be to handle such cases.
If the overall leader of a populous state (filled with more poor residents) like Kano is seen collecting kickbacks and invariably nothing is done about it except court orders restraining the House of Assembly from investigating the videos, then there is no better way to say that there is something wrong with the anti-corruption fight in Nigeria.