By Oscarline Onwuemenyi

THE STORY IN BRIEF
Madam Farida Waziri’s attempt at applying chemotherapy to the cancer of corruption in Nigeria has left her kissing the dust.

Though not perfect, she withstood massive pressures from both the government she was supposed to serve and the society that continue to complain about corruption. This is the story of her ceaseless confrontation, the events leading to her sacking and the challenges for Lamorde, the replacement

On Wednesday, November 23, 2011, erstwhile anti-graft fighter, Mrs. Farida Waziri was formally relieved of her post as the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, ending months of speculation about her future at the foremost anti-corruption agency in the country.

Over these months, especially since the emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in 2010, rumours have swirled ceaselessly about what could become the fate of the dark-goggled iron lady.

Although, she was constantly informed about these rumours, as admitted by her, Waziri however continued to dust them off, refusing to be distracted and insisting that she would only leave when God chooses for her. She even informed the public that some corrupt people that are being investigated by the anti-graft agency had resorted to diabolical attacks in order to get her out of the way.

According to her, “There is a sustained campaign of calumny against my person that simply refuses to go away. Some of these people have even resorted to diabolical means such as burying cows alive in order to attack me.

“Some of these people come back to me to tell me these things. I’ve even joked that soon I shall charge them for cruelty against animals, which in order climes is a serious matter.”

The former EFCC boss pointed out that many of her critics were not impressed when she was appointed as head of the anti-corruption agency, with many of them predicting she would not last beyond three months. “There was a lot of tension in the country during the time I was appointed and a lot of people were not happy. But because I have a strong commitment to doing the job I was given without fear or favour. It is people we are prosecuting that are spreading these malicious rumours that we are being selective.”

Mrs. Waziri’s tumultuous tenure, however, was not without its own joys and triumphs, especially as regards the anti-corruption fight in the country. Within the three years she occupied one of the most feared and despised offices in the land, the iron-lady scored some remarkable successes and, much like her predecessor, Nuhu Ribadu, left some landmarks as well as unfinished business for whoever takes over the seat.

High profile cases

At a recent National Seminar on Economic Crimes organized by the EFCC, Waziri boasted that within three years of holding sway as helmsman of the Commission, she has prosecuted more than 2,500 individuals, 60 of which are high-profile cases. “This is about 500 percent improvement over what we met when I was appointed,” she stated.

According to her, only 10 high-profile cases were in court when she was appointed. She also said that more than $11billion had been recovered for the nation.

Some of the high-profile cases (inherited or commenced) by Waziri’s EFCC include:

*Ex-Speaker, Dimeji Bankole – The drama surrounding the arrest and eventual prosecution of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole and his deputy, Usman Bello Nafada, was the stuff of pure legend. Indeed, after weeks of hide and seek games by the former number four citizen, operatives of the Commission had swooped into his residence in Asokoro, Abuja in commando style to arrest the former legislator when they learnt of his plans to flee the country. Bankole and his deputy are currently facing charges in court over embezzlement of over N38 million obtained from banks on behalf of the House of Representatives.

*Former governors Michael Botmang (Plataeu state), Rasheed Lodoja (Oyo state), Adamu Abdullahi (Nasarawa) – Cases against some of these former state executives are still dragging at the law courts, continuously impeded by all manners of legal blockades and delays. Meanwhile, some of the suspects who are accused of ripping their states of billions are walking the streets free, even as many have ‘retired’ to the Senate or chosen other juicy political appointments.

*Erastus Akingbola (former Managing Director/CEO of Intercontinetal Bank), Sebastian Adigwe(former Managing Director of Afribank ) and Francis Atuche (former MD of Bank PHB) – The Commission had initiated cases against these former bank chiefs over allegations of stealing billions among other economic crimes that contributed to the poor state of their financial institutions and almost torpedoed the national economy.

*Former Governors Gbenga Daniel (Ogun state), Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo state), Danjuma Goje (Gombe state) and Aliyu Akwe-Doma (Nasarawa state) – In what was considered one of the greatest onslaught against corrupt politicians in the country, the EFCC’s arrest of these four governors (accused of stealing multi-billions) remains one of the highlights of Mrs. Waziri’s tenure.

Many analysts have observed that the most recent onslaught against former governors, and her resolve to bring in more ex-state executives, might have been the last straw that broke the camel’s back – and ensured Waziri’s dishonourable ouster from office. It thus remains to be seen what becomes of the cases against these former governors, which are currently in courts across the country, and if the next EFCC Chairman will go after their corrupt colleagues.

*Mallam Nasir El-rufai, former Minister of the FCT, charged for abuse of office and corruption by EFCC

*Kenny Martins (Police Equipment Fund, PEF); N774 million

*Former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori over theft of more than N9.2bn (inherited, filed fresh charges)

*Bode George (chieftain of the ruling PDP); N100 billion

*Abdullahi Adamu, former governor of Nassarawa State and now serving Senator; N15 billion

*Attahiru Bafarawa, former governor of Sokoto State; N15 billion

*Roland Iyayi, former Managing Director of FAAN; N5.5bn

*Nyeson Wike, former Chief of Staff to Rivers governor and serving Minister of State, Education; N4.670 billion

*Boni Haruna, former Governor of Adamawa state; N254 million

*Eider George (Austrian businessman)

*Patrick Fernandez (Indian businessman); N32 billion

*Chief Rasheed Lodoja, former governor of Oyo State; N6 billion

*Prof. Babalola Borishade, former Minister of Aviation; N5.5 billion

*Femi Fani-Kayode, former Minister of Aviation; N250 million

*Four Senior Zenith Bank Managers; N3.6 billion

*Dr. Mrs. Cecilia Ibru (former CEO, Oceanic Bank) N160.2 billion

*13 Filipinos charged for oil bunkering; N300 million

*Tom Iseghohi, Muhammed Buba and Mike Okoli (former GM and Managers of Transcorp Group Plc); N15 billion

*Mallam Nasir El-rufai; charged for corruption and abuse of office

*Dimeji Bankole, former Speaker of the House of Reps, along with his deputy, Usman Bello Nafada; N40 billion

*Former and still serving members of the National Assembly, including Nicholas Ugbane, Ndudi Elumelu, Mohammed Jibo and Paulinus Igwe; N5.2 billion

*Gbenga Daniel (former governor of Ogun state); N58 billion

*Christopher Alao-Akala (former governor of Oyo state);

*Aliyu Akwe-Doma (former governor of Nasarawa state; N18 billion

*Danjuma Goje (former governor of Gombe state and serving Senator);

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