Last week, I advocated the resignation of Mrs. Farida Waziri, the chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Actually, she should be fired.
I know this is not going to happen. If Yar’Adua had the strength to strike a match, the only way Mrs. Waziri would ever have entered the premises of the EFCC is as a witness.
But let me begin from the beginning: I hold nothing against this woman, except her incompetence, ignorance and a private agenda that is now both obvious and dangerous.
Fighting corruption is just that: a fight. It is demands an intelligent, but also courageous and combative person who understands that he or she is the arrowhead for a new way of life. It demands a nationalist who is not uncomfortable waving the letter and the spirit of the law at each and all. It requires someone who sees the essential contribution of the public in this process. It requires someone who wears battle fatigues to work, figuratively speaking.
In other words, just as it is not everyone that is in the Police Force that fights crime, it is not everyone that walks through the EFCC front door that is suited for the challenge of trying to clean up half a century of malfeasance. Simply, Mrs. Waziri does not have the fire for the challenge of EFCC leadership.
Last week, she finally confirmed the nation’s worst fears. The vital EFCC files required for some of the people responsible for our worst looting ever are either “missing or distorted,” she said. And no, she has no petition against Obasanjo, either. She has no basis for prosecuting any of these people.
Let us begin by getting Obasanjo out of the way. History has already convicted our former leader, because everyone now knows the hollowness of his advocacy. What the anti-graft agencies are expected to do is to ensure that the story is judicially documented. It is not surprising that Mrs. Waziri is saying she is incapable of playing this role; the problem is that she thinks she can disguise her game.
There are no petitions against the former President? The real questions are: Can this woman read? Does she know where her office is? That is where a copy of the law setting up the Commission may be found. In it, the broad range of its tasks and powers.
That is also where she will find the petition against Obasanjo filed by the Conference of National Political Parties (CNPP) on December 10, 2007. It was signed by the EFCC on December 24.
In addition to that, Mrs. Waziri will find another petition that was filed in November 2007 by the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL). Perhaps in the knowledge that a day such as this might come, with EFCC ruthlessly shirking its responsibilities, CACOL preceded the event with a public demonstration to the EFCC office in Ikoyi. Its petition was accepted by Mr. Umaru Sanda, the Head of General Investigation. He assured the petitioners the allegations against Obasanjo would be investigated, and that no Nigerian against whom there was a petition would be spared.
Four months later, Mr. Adeniran and CACOL returned to the EFCC. Mr. Sanda again assured the group that the EFCC was working on the Obasanjo investigation. In an impressive demonstration of corporate good faith, he invited Mr. Adeniran into his office to show him the extent of the work at that time. And Mrs. Waziri says the EFCC has no petition?
On the question of the governors, there is no gentle way of describing what she has just announced other than to say she is incapable of the truth.
When Mr. Ribadu presented the 2006 Report of the Commission to the National Assembly, there were 31 indictments. Those reports indicting them were accepted by the legislature and adopted. Waziri’s predecessor, Ibrahim Lamorde, continued to work on those issues until he handed over to her. How could they have gone missing or become distorted, except in her hands?
In any event, exactly what is the meaning of the term, “distorted”? How does a former police officer find sensitive federal property in her care burgled, and wait to announce it in passing in the middle of a seminar? What did she do to recover the missing files? This woman is not telling the truth.
Another fact that makes this situation even more bogus is that Mrs. Waziri is currently prosecuting a few former governors as a result of those files. Is she saying that some files disappeared, but not others; that some were distorted, but not others? Is she prosecuting with missing or distorted files? This woman is not telling the truth.
But the most important giveaway of this woman’s agenda is that the EFCC, in its handling of its high profile cases, took advantage of international and bilateral treaties to collaborate with several global agencies. Those bodies therefore wound up with the same intelligence data as the EFCC. This means that should the EFCC find that a petty thief has raided its portmanteau, it can rapidly recover its losses. This is standard. It also means that when reference is made to a file, it is to a body of information, not a bulky and tattered folder with notes hanging out. This woman is not telling the truth.
One of Mrs. Waziri’s key problems is that as soon as she assumed office, she wanted to make the EFCC over in her own image. She certainly has the right to reorganize her office if it makes it more effective. What she does not have, but did anyway, was to disorganize the agency by dispersing some of its key personnel nationwide. She harassed and transferred 10 top officers that were handling high profile cases as though they were enemies of the Commission.
One of the better-known of those cases is that of Ibrahim Mustafa Magu. Mr. Magu was the Head of the Economic Governance Section and Presidential Task Force of the EFCC. He was reputed to be a man of principle and professional thoroughness. Among others, he investigated James Ibori and Bukola Saraki . When Mrs. Waziri arrived, Magu was swiftly redeployed to the Ekiti State Police Command. Last month, he found himself facing trial by the Police Force Disciplinary Committee for “withholding vital documents” concerning sensitive EFCC cases.
It seems to me that part of the problem here is that Mrs. Waziri recognizes only the EFCC of her own description, but not the institution itself. It is as if someone gave her a house as a present and she does not care what it looked like before she took possession. If a report has not been put into her well-manicured fingers, it is not an EFCC report. This is dangerous and unprofessional.
The National Assembly is partly responsible for this problem. I have pointed out in the past month that the EFCC owes the legislature the 2008 EFCC Report, which is where the issues she is currently airing should have been documented. Rather than insist that she fulfill her Commission’s statutory obligation, the Assembly is hosting her at tea meetings.
Of greater import, Mrs. Waziri is announcing that there is, in effect, no war against corruption. It is safe to conclude that the Attorney-General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa, is relieved about her service. Suddenly, he has none of the conflicts with the EFCC he was having with Mr. Ribadu over the prosecution of the former Governors.
That brings us back to President Yar’Adua. Since it is unlikely that either Aondoakaa or Mrs. Waziri would be comfortable at this fork in the road without Yar’Adua’s consent, the President is obviously the one pulling the strings. Otherwise he would have fired Mrs. Waziri by now.
We are thus left with the nightmare that Yar’Adua is letting Obasanjo and the former Governors off the hook. The Yar’Adua doctrine unfolds.
By Sonala Olumhense