The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) today denied a story in The Punch, one of Nigeria’s most authoritative and respected journals, that it is investigating several high-profile Nigerians, including the Chief Justice (CJN), Walter Onnoghen.
Others named by the newspaper include Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former Minister for Finance & Coordinating Minister of the Economy; the Minister of Solid Minerals Development and former Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; his successor as governor, Ayodele Fayose; Justice Abdu Kafarati of the Federal High Court., Kogi State governor Yahaya Bello, and his predecessor, Captain Idris Wada; former governors Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom), Lucky Igbinedion (Edo), Jonah Jang (Plateau) and Ali Modu Sherriff (Borno), and former First Lady Patience Jonathan.
Former Ministers under President Goodluck Jonathan on the list, according to The Punch, include Mohammed Adoke, Bala Mohammed, Stella Oduah, Godsday Orubebe. Prominent on it also is the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, along with her husband, Rear Admiral Alison Madueke (Rtd.).
The Punch story was written by seven reporters, which suggests the organization spent a lot of resources on its investigation, and on poring over the list.
According to the story, the sources of the information against each of the persons on the list are listed against them, and include intelligence, whistle-blowers and petitions from government agencies and private citizens.
The Punch, saying the list was seen by one of its correspondents courtesy of an EFCC source on Monday, also noted that the commission sent it to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami at his request.
In its response, the EFCC categorically denied that the report emanated from it, dismissing the allusion to “an EFCC source” as “diversionary and mischievous.”
According to the statement, cases under investigation that it communicates to the AGF are classified information. To that end, it described as “troubling” that such a list could have been leaked to the media, adding that the mastermind aimed at creating disaffection between the commission and, particularly, the judiciary.
Denying that it is investigating Justices Onnoghen and Kafarati, the commission recalled that when the Chief Justice was being considered for his present position, the Commission received some petitions against him, but that they were investigated and then discarded, having been found to be without merit.
“Indeed, much damage has been done to the Commission’s investigation activities by this leak especially as some of the cases mentioned are still at preliminary stages of investigation,” the EFCC concluded.