EFCC and barrage of petitions against politicians

By Chukwudi Nweje  / Acting Features Editor


The ongoing campaigns by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) which have largely concentrated on names calling and trading blames are definitely not what Nigerians want from politicians who say they want to transform the country. Expectations are rather that they would dissect the challenges facing the country and come up with proposals on how to address them.

man-in-the-newsImmediately the candidates of the leading political parties emerged, Nigerians had in fact challenged them to base their campaigns on issues and not use foul language or resort to insulting each other as had been the style in the past.

The political parties had also challenged each other on the need to make their campaigns issues based.
Unfortunately, this has not to be the case. To the contrary, the  campaign so far seem to have remained along the lines of mudslinging, personality attacks and trading blames over the nation’s woes rather than unfolding a blueprint for getting the country out of the woods.

A public affairs analyst, Eneruvie Enakoko argued that 2015 electioneering campaign has mostly been divisive and spiteful and that politicians have engaged more “in hurtful and insulting campaigns devoid of substance, and so often focused on their persons and the assassination of their individual characters.” He said that “when candidates do not have a viable and solid record to run on, they paint their opponents bad and resort to denigration of their person and character.” He urged the political parties “to redefine their campaigns and focus them on such essential issues as security and welfare, jobs, education, healthcare and vital infrastructure like roads, transportation system, potable water supply and power necessary for the seamless running of a country.”

It is on this premise that it is unfortunate that some politicians still focus on spiteful politics of winning the 2015 election at all cost and are bent on going to any length to achieve it. Some politicians have reportedly resorted to writing petitions to the anti-graft agencies against their opponents with a view to knocking them out of the electoral contest or in the very least distracting them from their political quest.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has raised the alarm over moves by politicians to discredit opponents by writing frivolous petitions against them. In a statement entitled ‘Our Stand’ posted on its website, the commission said “It is another season of politics.

With the general elections fast approaching, politicians of all hue are traversing the country in desperate bid to woo the electorates for their votes. Such is the beauty of democracy which is founded on healthy contest with the electorate as the ultimate decider.
“Unfortunately, not all the actors in our nation’s political arena understand the rudiments of a free electoral contest. For some category of politicians, elections are nothing short of open warfare where any weapon that can swing the tide in their favour is fair. It does not matter whether such weapons deviate from the acceptable norm.

“In recent weeks the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has been alarmed by reports in a section of the media, accusing it of failure to act on certain petitions supposedly sent to it through the pages of the newspapers. According to the petitioners, the Commission’s failure to act had reduced their chances of success in the political arena.”

The EFCC said that its action or inaction cannot confer political advantage on any aspirant, adding that there are basic minimum standards a petition must meet before the commission will investigate it and that “where petitions fall short of such standards, the EFCC is not obliged to proceed.”
The statement read in part: “The Commission wishes to sound a note of warning to politicians not to attempt to use it as a tool for political warfare, In recent weeks, the EFCC has received many frivolous petitions alleging high crimes against leading political figures. Some of them came from the opponents of such individuals. While it is important for citizens to be whistle blowers, it amounts to self help to attempt to instigate the EFCC against a political opponent. Citizens do not have to wait until election time to report alleged financial malfeasance.”

However, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) disagreed, insisting that the EFCC is under obligation to investigate every petition sent to it. Debo Adeniran, Executive Chairman of the Coalition said “EFCC does not have the capacity to discredit any petition. As a matter of fact, no petition should be viewed as frivolous until their investigation says so.

No petition should be seen as a way to discredit the opponents as long as the petition reflects the true state of things. No corruption allegation should be treated with levity. No corruption is small so none should be overlooked. Any act or allegation of corruption should be duly investigated and adequately punished to serve as deterrent to others.”

SOURCE: Daily Independent.

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