By EMman Ovuakporie
They may not have escaped yet. In fact, hard times await them. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), does not have plans to drop charges against politicians who are currently undergoing trials in various courts across the country.
Even some of them who may have one way or another secured tickets from their party – and they are across party lines – EFCC is insisting that it would be part of the process of cleansing the Augean stable that the Nigerian polity represents.
corrSunday Vanguard can authoritatively reveal that efforts by some highly-placed Nigerians with a view to ensuring that the anti-graft agency drops charges against them met a brick wall in Mrs.Farida Waziri, the EFCC Chairman. Mrs. Waziri, Sunday Vanguard learnt, is insisting that the lawyers working for the commission should fast-track proceedings using all conventional methods available to them. Some of the politicians currently seeking elective positions and had won their various party tickets are pitched between their cases in the courts and the crafty need to ensure that their cases are adjourned till after the April elections.
It was learnt that a former governor in one of the states in North-Central Zone who recently won to contest election for his senatorial district had his case adjourned last Monday, till May after the April elections must have been completed.
An impeccable source close at EFCC told Sunday Vanguard that the game- plan is to ascertain that they win their elections and wear a “new toga either as a senator or honourable member of the house.
”But, we are saying no, that, if possible, we will prefer a situation whereby these men with filthy hands are tried and if found guilty they should be made to feel the long hands of the law.”
The source explained further that “by the time they win elections they must have gained more clout thereby making it difficult for those prosecuting them and even the judges.
“We have called for specialised courts like they have in some other countries to try these men and women but it has failed to yield any positive result. “Instead, what we get are threats from some of these politicians who believe money can buy anything.”
It would be recalled that some politicians that are seeking elective positions are currently facing various charges on alleged corrupt practices. The list includes but not limited to such politicians as former governor of Sokoto State, Malam Attahiru Bafarawa.
Bafarawa, stepped down for Malam Nuhu Ribadu at the just-concluded Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), presidential primary in Lagos, a fortnight ago.
He is facing a 47-count charge. Former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, is another politician. For Dariye, who just won a senatorial ticket, he is also facing a 23-count charge.
The charges slammed on Dariye border on alleged outright violation of due processes in awarding contracts. Then, there is the feisty Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello has a pending case with the court. Already suffering double-jeopardy on account of the loss of her senatorial ticket to Mrs. Lola Abiola-Edewor, daughter of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, the late Basorun Moshood Abiola; Obasanjo-Bello’s arraignment is on 56 counts.
Former governor of Adamawa State, Mr. Boni Haruna, who also recently won his party’s ticket to run for a senatorial district, has a 26-count charge hanging over his head.
When the shit of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), hit the roof it splattered on quite a number of public office holders.
Senator Nicholas Ugbane has a case to answer over alleged corrupt practices involving other key officers of the alleged REA scam. Ugbane is a serving senator. Also, Mr. Ndudi Elumelu of the House of Representatives has a pending case in court over his alleged role in the same alleged REA scam.
Elumelu, it would be recalled, made waves during the public drama which passed for a probe into contracts awarded to contractors involved in the Independent Power Projects (IPPs). For over a month, Elumelu’s House Committee treated Nigerians to revelations about alleged sordid acts of corruption. Mr. Mohammed Jibo, too, is involved in the alleged REA scam.
So, also is Mr. Paulinus Igwe, another House member, allegedly involved in the REA scam. Former governor of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Adamu Abdulahi, who is also seeking an elective position in the new dispensation has a 149-count charge pending in the court. Former governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Rasheed Ladoja, who is still eyeing the Government House, Agodi, has a 33-count charge over alleged corrupt practices wrapped around his neck.
Former governor of Enugu State, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, has a 105-count charges pending in the court. He is a serving senator. But, if some people thought the commission is only interested in politicians, they should perish such thought.
The commission, last year, said top civil servants who had mansions in Abuja and other capital cities of the country would soon be called upon to tell Nigerians the source of their incomes. Feelers from the commission confirmed that some public servants had been placed on the watch-list since the investigation into the pension scam started last year.
Penultimate Saturday, however, Sunday Vanguard was able to confirm that some civil servants had really chewed more than they could swallow when a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Transport could not explain the source of the N800 million found in her account by operatives of the anti-graft agency. Six other officers were arrested while a director said to be involved in the monthly siphoning of pension funds running into billions of naira had been declared wanted by the commission.
Some civil servants who were alleged to have colluded with politicians and still have their cases pending over alleged corrupt practices, include: Dr. Aliyu Abdulahi, a Federal Permanent Secretary. Mr. Samuel Ibi, Mr Simon Nanle, Mr. Kayode Oyedeji and Mr. Garba Jahun, were allegedly involved in the REA scam.
Others include Mr. Francis Okokuro, Bayelsa State Accountant-General; Professor Vincent Okonkwo, ex-VC of Imo State University; Prof. Moikat Mutfwang, Michael Aule, Andrew Ekpanobi who connived with a U.S citizen Alexander Cozman to allegedly defraud the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
Civil servants that are currently living above their incomes are in for a lot of heat as the commission is hell- bent to smoke them all out particularly those who are already placed on the watch-list.