By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor& Ikechukwu Nnochiri
Controversy on the direction of the nation’s anti-graft war raged yesterday following growing infighting at the top echelon of government. At the centre of the controversy is the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC Mrs. Farida Waziri.
The controversy was sparked by enquiries initiated by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN) who himself has been accused of stalling the fight against corruption. He has been accused of withdrawinghigh profile cases initiated by the commission.
However, under the EFCC establishment Act, Mrs.Waziri could continue to hold office as the minimum qualification for the office is the attainment of the position of Assistant Commissioner of Police or its equivalent in any of the nation’s security agencies.
Section 2 (1) (a)(i) of the EFCC Act stipulating the qualification of the Chairman of the EFCC states:
“be a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent.”
The revelation of the fact that Mrs. Waziri retired from the Police in 2000 with the substantive rank of Commissioner of Police was made by the Inspector General of Police Hafiz Ringim on July 21, 2011 following a request by Adoke the day before.
The Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Mr. Parry Osayande equally confirmed Waziri’s rank as a Commissioner of Police following a similar request from Adoke also dated July 20, 2011. According to Mr. Osayande in his response to Adoke, Waziri “rose through the ranks to attain the position of Acting Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG” but that she was never confirmed in that position before she retired. He thus submitted that she retired as a substantive Commissioner of Police.
EFCC sources, however, dismissed the revelations as of no consequence and as mere distractions to derail the commission from its fight against corrupt persons.
At the heart of the brewing battle Vanguard learnt yesterday was the loss of confidence by government in the person of Waziri. The government, it was learnt, was however, at its wits end on how to dismiss her before the end of her four year tenure due to end next year.
“The government is confused on this issue and does not know how to show her the door, so I can say it is the lack of political will,” a source in Abuja familiar with the ensuing row disclosed yesterday.
Mr. Adoke had written two different letters dated 20th July, 2011 to the Inspector General of Police and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, PSC seeking clarification on the rank of Mrs. Farida Waziri at the time of her retirement.
In his response the following day 21st July, 2011, IGP Ringim responded thus:
RE: Request for Clarification on the Rank of Mrs Farida Waziri at Retirement
Your letter No HAGF/PSC/2011/VOL. 2/1 of 20th July 2011 in respect of the above subject matter refers. Please find attached letter No PSC/C/352/32 of 9/5/2000 in respect of the voluntary retirement of Mrs. F.U.M Waziri, CP from the Force.
From records available in the retired officer’s confidential file, she retired the Force with effect from 28/2/2000 after 35years of service as a Commissioner of Police.
Accept the assurances of my highest regards and esteem please.
Another letter to Adoke from Mr. Osayande, chairman of the Police Service Commission in respect of the same issue dated 21st July, 2011 read:
Request for clarification on the rank of Mrs Farida Waziri
With reference to your letter Ref. No. HAGF/PSC/2011/VOL. 2/1 dated 20th July, 2011 requesting for the clarification on the rank of Mrs Farida Waziri at retirement.
I wish to state that Mrs Farida Waziri, fwc, enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force as a Cadet Inspector on 28th February, 1965.
She rose through the ranks to become Acting Assistant Inspector General of Police (Ag. AIG) and was posted to head “F” Department FHQ on 26th May, 1999 and later, “E” Department (Training) on 19th July, 1999 in the capacity of Ag. AIG.
She was still of the rank of Ag. AIG until 28th February 2000, when she retired from the force, having completed her mandatory 35years of meritorious service.
Before her retirement, she successfully completed the one year managerial course at the National War College, as it was then called and bagged the Fellow of War College, (fwc).
Officers on Acting Rank who are not promoted to the next substantive rank and due retirement are retired on their substantive rank, hence she retired as Commissioner of Police (CP).
Accept the assurances of my highest regards.
Controversy over Adoke’s tenure as AGF has lately been stoked by allegations of the withdrawal of some high level corruption cases including those against the Vaswani Brothers; the case against the former Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mr. Ahmed Bello, and the former Chairman of the Police Equipment Fund, PEF, Mr. Kenny Martins.
The case against the former Chairman of the House of Representative Committee on Power, Rep. Ndidi Elumelu, the N5 billion fraud case against a former Chief Executive of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr. Ransome Owan, and 17 directors and members of his board have also stagnated on account of alleged interference in the cases filed by the EFCC.
Meanwhile, a fresh controversy struck the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as a group under the aegis of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, staged a massive protest in Abuja, urging anti-graft agencies in the country to promptly investigate the AGF over alleged misdeeds.
The group which brandished several placards calling for an in-depth investigation of the allegations (withheld) equally proceeded to the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC.
The coalition through its Executive Director and leader of the delegation, Mr Debo Adeniran said the petition is meant to draw the attention of the Commission to the marching order handed down to the nation‘s Anti-corruption Agencies, especially the ICPC and the EFCC by President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR on Thursday July 14, 2011 during the swearing in ceremony of the last batch of nine Ministers at the Presidential villa.
The coalition further stressed their anger and concern with the manner in which the Attorney General has withdrawn cases against corrupt people and companies from the Anti-corruption agencies. In one of the placards, they wrote: AWhy withdrawing Corruption cases Against Rogue Companies and Persons?
It would be recalled that on November 22, 2010, Siemens reportedly reached an agreement with the Federal Government under which Siemens will pay N7bn to the Nigerian Government in exchange for dropping charges against them which was variously described by the public as restitution and disgorgement.
The coalition equally expressed its displeasure over the opinion of the AGF to merge the two anti-corruption agencies as well as the bill in the Senate to merge the two agencies which has passed 1st reading.
Mr Adeniran said what is most needed is the strengthening of the two agencies through technical capabilities, manpower development and funding.
Efforts to reach AGF proved abortive, however, when his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Ambrose Momoh, was contacted, he said the AGF was not aware of any protest or petition against him, even as he wondered what the group is seeking to achieve.
According to him, “we don’t have anything to say about it now, the truth is that you just put me on notice, the AGF is not currently on seat but he will respond to the issue in due time”, he added.