The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) has censured the statement credited to the former President Olusegun Obasanjo that the appointment of Mrs. Farida Waziri as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission slowed down the fight against corruption in the country.
The former president, in an exclusive interview he granted Zero Tolerance, a magazine published by the EFCC, said Waziri was a wrong successor to Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer chairman of the anti-graft agency who he claimed was sponsored by the former Governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori, who is currently serving jail term in the United Kingdom for corruption-related offences.
Reacting to the statement, the Executive Chairman of the Coalition, Debo Adeniran stated that if indeed Ibori head-hunted Waziri, he made a mistake of his life.
He said, “If indeed James Ibori sponsored Farida Waziri to become the EFCC Chairman as claimed by the old soldier, that was the mistake of his life which we are sure he is already regretting behind the bars now. At the level of CACOL, Waziri proved to us that she was a dispassionate administrator. This is someone who openly disagreed with her supervisory minister that the EFCC had not cleared James Ibori, Bola Tinubu and George Akume as against the claim by the Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke that the agency had cleared them of corruption charges. It was after Waziri denounced Adoke’s claim that she made it public that EFCC would begin Ibori’s prosecution. And true to her word, the prosecution of Ibori began and the agency did it diligently as much as the resources and personnel at its disposal could go.
CACOL was in the court from the beginning of Ibori’s prosecution in Kaduna to the end in Nigeria. The question OBJ has not answered is why is it that the Federal High Court had to be treated as if one of its divisions is different from another? Why is it that the judicial system allowed the Delta state governor and his deputy, Ibori’s accomplices who were also interrogated during Ibori’s probe to donate the building that housed the Federal High Court, Asaba and the building that housed the trial judge, Marcel Awokulehin? That situation, we see as bribery to the judiciary, was not countenanced by NJC when CACOL raised it. Why is it that Marcel Awokulehin could strike out the 171-count charge preferred against Ibori on technical ground rather than considering the merit of the charges? Why is it that the National Judicial Council did not countenance the content of CACOL’s petition to it on the observed travesty of justice only for Ibori to be convicted in the UK based on pieces of evidence provided by Waziri-led EFCC? Why wouldn’t the Ministry of Justice that has the oversight duty over EFCC identify the lapses in the charges against Ibori if they were indeed weak and indefensible? Is Obasanjo saying that Waziri truncated the prosecution of Ibori and other politically-exposed persons?”
Speaking further, the human rights activist averred that Mrs. Farida Waziri would have been the best chairman EFCC would ever have.
“As far as CACOL is concerned, Waziri would have been the best chairman EFCC would ever have if time had favoured her. We are of the opinion that she came at a very wrong time because she showed effort to work but her effort was thwarted by Obasanjo who sabotaged the investigation of himself and other who served under him knowing fully whatever happened to them would have brought him to justice because he was the Chief Accounting Officer.
Adeniran however noted that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is embittered because the former EFCC strong woman disclosed publicly that she has a discreet report about him and urged the former president to render the account of his stewardship while in government instead of castigating Waziri.
“We are aware that the former EFCC boss also got a discreet report about Obasanjo hence the former president prevailed on the Ministry of Justice to truncate her effort. We are also aware that there are few people that Obasanjo wanted Waziri to persecute and she didn’t because the former could not provide enough evidence to charge them. Instead of witch-hunting Waziri, the former president should tell Nigerians about the money that changed hands during his third term bid; he should tell Nigerians about the Halliburton, Wilbross, Pentascope, Siemens Scandals; what of the billions he claimed to have been expended on the Power Project without any positive result? The old soldier should answer Nigerians how he went from having N20, 0000 in his account to becoming a multibillionaire overnight.”
11 September, 2013