2019 general elections: Tackling excesses of EFCC and other security agencies

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Elections

The role of the security agencies in maintaining law and order during and after election in a country cannot be over emphasized.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other security agencies have important roles to play as the 2019 general elections draw near and must up their ante towards ensuring that the country is not plunged into avoidable crises as a result of professional misconduct by their personnel, whether at the top or below the ranks.

The EFCC was set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria with the sole responsibility of investigating financial and economic crimes and the prosecution of offenders.

The commission has been one of the most effective agencies of the government with intimidating successes and achievements in the fight against financial and economic crimes in the country.

In recent times, EFCC has been excessive in carrying out its responsibilities as an agency of the government with allegations of bias and partisanship beclouding its expected neutrality in its dealings.

In August 2018, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, raised the alarm that the EFCC has frozen the state’s bank accounts, trapping workers and pensioners’ salaries in a state beset by hardship following months of deadly attacks by killer herdsmen.

A day after, the Akwa Ibom State government raised similar alarm accusing the EFCC of freezing its accounts which forced the government of the state to file a lawsuit of N50bn against the Commission for freezing its accounts .

According to the government, the lawsuit is a reaction to the unlawful freezing of its accounts by the Federal Government agency for 72 hours, noting that the development crippled both the economy and the reputation of the state.

The case is contained in suit No: FHE/UY/CS/137/18 between the Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State as claimant, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Attorney General of the Federal, Zenith Bank Plc, Skye Bank Plc and United Bank for Africa Plc as defendants .

The claimant asked, “Whether the accounts of Akwa Ibom State Government held with banks or financial institutions fall within the financial crimes enforcement purview of section 34 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( Established ) Act 2004, or “ Whether the account of Akwa Ibom State Government with a bank or financial institution can be subjected to a freezing order pursuant to section 34 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Established) Act 2004.“

Last week, the commission was also accused of freezing the accounts of the vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi and members of his family.

On Monday this week, the apartment of Aliyu and Mustapha Abubakar, both, sons of the PDP presidential candidate and ex-vice president, Atiku Abubakar was allegedly invaded by EFCC. An invasion which the PDP described as vicious, outrageous, reprehensible and dirty politics being played by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Although, the EFCC has denied freezing the accounts of Obi or any member of his family and invasion of the home of the two sons of Abubakar, some people still believe that there is more to it than meets the eyes as all the deeds of the commission in recent times may not be unconnected with the 2019 general elections.

Addressing newsmen on Sunday after an African Union Youth Congress against Corruption event with the theme: “ Combating Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation, “ held at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of EFCC, When asked about the investigation into the allegation of bribery against the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, said: “The case against Ganduje is in court and I would not want to comment on it. As I told you before, we are still on it.”

The statement of Magu has been interpreted in some quarters to mean that the EFCC is selective in handling cases. This same EFCC allegedly issued security alert on the immediate past Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, at the twilight of his administration, but has refused to investigate Ganduje who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing dollars as kickbacks on contracts he awarded as published by daily Nigeria, an online media some weeks back.

In the same vein, the PDP presidential candidate, last month accused security agencies of harassment and intimidation of his person and aides at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, after his return from a holiday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates where he had gone to plan with his presidential campaign team.

According to Timi Frank, the aim of the action of the security operatives was to plant something incriminating so as to implicate the PDP presidential candidate. A statement which was denied by the Minister of State,  Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The ignoble roles played by security agencies as observed by election monitoring groups and observers in the off- season elections in Ondo,Kogi, Ekiti, Osun, Bauchi, Sokoto and Katsina States call for concern as the nation prepares for the general elections in 2019.

The EFCC and other security agencies should uphold the ethics of their agencies and not meddle in politics as that will not be in the best interest of the country.

The security agencies should be sensitive to the fragility of the country and the characterized division currently witnessed along party, tribal and religious lines.

Any attempt by the EFCC and other security agencies to be partisan in the discharge of their primary responsibilities this time, may throw the country into political turmoil.

What Nigerians expect from the EFCC and others to do as the 2019 general elections draw near, is to work in the best interest of the country by carrying out their responsibilities without any questionable agenda for the overall good of the country and preserve the nation from crises.

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