By Ifeanyi Okolie
Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, said the weekend gun attack on some operatives will not deter the anti-graft agency from investigating and prosecuting the corrupt in the country.
Five EFCC operatives were attacked on Friday, on the Mbano/Okigwe Road, Imo State, while returning from the Federal High Court, Owerri. The gunmen killed one of the operatives, Eze Edoga, while others were serously wounded.
Speaking with newsmen on the attack, yesterday, in Abuja, Waziri said: â€œIt is with the deepest regret that the commission lost one of its officers in the unfortunate incident. Two other staff were critically injured in the attack and are currently receiving treatment in a hospital.
“In a manner typical of cowards, the officers were trailed from the court premises by the assailants who later opened fire on them on Okigwe Road. The matter has since been reported to the Nigeria Police for thorough investigation,” she added.
The plans, she said are rooted in several ongoing investigations and or prosecution conducted by the commission, particularly those involving highly- placed politically exposed persons.
She stated that while the practice in the past has been to frustrate prosecution of cases in the courts by employing all manner of delay tactics, the new dimension of brute force and violence to kill and maim, should be condemned by well meaning Nigerians.
â€œIt is important to alert the nation of the resolve of highly corrupt persons to scuttle the current reinvigorated fight against corruption in the country. Only in November last year, a member of the board was brutally murdered in a bizarre and grotesque manner. It is hoped that through such illicit means, the Commission will become scared and cases against perpetrators will be dropped,â€ Waziri said.
She however assured Nigerians and the international community that the Commission was determined to bring to book all corrupt elements in the country. â€œWhile we pray that the soul of the departed rest in perfect peace and that the injured receive a very quick recovery, we wish to assure all Nigerians and indeed the international community that the resolve and determination of the Commission to bring all corrupt elements in the country to justice can never be shaken by acts of intimidation and or blackmail.
The fight against corruption is at the centre of our governance challenge as a country. We cannot therefore shirk away from such an important responsibility because of threats by the very people whose conduct has inflicted unimaginable damage on the economy and avoidable poverty on our people at large,â€ she said.
She, therefore, called on Nigerians to speak out against this dangerous development which, if not addressed, will gestate into a much wider problem and signal a situation of hopelessness and lawlessness.
â€œA day should never come in this country when the looters of our treasury be the same people who dictate how our nation should be governedâ€, she said.
She condemned all those who will not see anything good about the anti-corruption fight as championed by the EFCC. Her words â€œAs cardinal as the fight against corruption is to the development of this country, all that some self-centered persons can do is to devote their time, energy and ill-gotten wealth to mobilize all forms of attack against the relevant organs of government especially the EFCC, from within and outside the country.
â€œFor those that have chosen to stay outside the country to continue to wage war against Nigeriaâ€™s anti-graft war, the EFCC or myself, they have to realize that whatever image they create for their country abroad will rub off on them because they remain Nigerians. No single individual is bigger than the nation and as such, all attempts to distract active organs of government especially the EFCC through crooked means will fail because we are committed to our work and the betterment of our countryâ€ .