Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Wednesday, dissociated itself from Tuesday’s purported decoration of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, as Anti-Corruption Ambassador of the commission by its National Assembly Liaison Officer, one Suleiman Bakari.
The anti-corruption commission, according to a statement issued and signed by its Head, Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, made available to the Nigerian Tribune, in Abuja, stated that the said Bakari acted on his own and clearly outside his brief as the commission’s National Assembly Liaison Officer.
The statement added that the unprofessional conduct of the officer, who it stated was never instructed or mandated by its acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, or management and staff to decorate Ekweremadu, was a clear manifestation of “corruption fighting back.”
“The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been drawn to some reports in the print and online media, on April 20, 2016 claiming that the anti-graft agency has decorated the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, as “Anti-Corruption Ambassador.”
“According to a statement issued to the press by the Special Adviser to the Deputy Senate President, Uche Anichukwu, the purported decoration, was carried out by the EFCC National Assembly Liaison Officer, one Suleiman Bakari, who was quoted to have said: “On behalf of my acting chairman, Mr Ibrahim Mustafa Magu and the entire management and staff of the EFCC, decorate you as an Anti- Corruption Ambassador and formally present this frame, as a token of our appreciation to your person and office, and as a symbol of the institutional partnership between the EFCC and the National Assembly.
“The EFCC totally dissociates itself from the purported action of Bakari, as he acted entirely on his own and clearly outside his liaison officer brief as he was never instructed by the Acting Chairman nor mandated by the management and staff of the commission to decorate Ekweremadu or any officer of the National Assembly as ‘Anti- Corruption Ambassador.’
“The commission views this highly unprofessional conduct of the officer as yet another manifestation of ‘Corruption Fighting Back.’ This leg of the despicable campaign, which is unfortunately being carried out by a staff of the commission, had been foreshadowed in recent weeks by other questionable acts.
“For instance, all through last week, some courts issued a string of anti-EFCC rulings looking like calculated attempts to derail the anti-corruption war, even as there were indications of the capture of a prominent section of the media by dark forces,” the commission’s statement read in part.
According to the EFCC, the insistence of the Senate to carry on with the amendment of the Code of Conduct Tribunal Act, as well as its inexplicable provisions proposed for amendment of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, were forms of sustained fight-back against the fight against corruption in the country.
“The picture of organised corruption marshaling its evil forces to launch a sustained fight-back becomes clearer, if cognizance is taken of the bewildering insistence of the Senate to carry on with the ill-advised amendment of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal Act, as well as the inexplicable provisions proposed for amendment of the Anti-Money Laundering Act,” EFCC stated.
The commission further declared that the award of Anti-Corruption Ambassador bestowed on Senator Ekweremadu was unknown to it, saying it could not be invested as purported on behalf of its chairman, management and staff.
According to the statement, “Let it be underscored that the statutory mandate of the EFCC is the investigation and prosecution of all economic and financial crimes cases, which does not include phoney decoration of any individual as “Anti-corruption Ambassador.” That award and title are unknown to the EFCC and could not have been invested as purported, on behalf of the acting chairman, management and staff of the EFCC.
“Further, the commission is not in the habit of awarding titles to individuals. Those who seek titles for reasons of waging a counter-onslaught against the war on corruption, in addition to massaging inflated sense of influence, know the quarters to approach for such dubious honours. Not the EFCC.”
It, therefore, enjoined members of the public and stakeholders in the fight against corruption to disregard the said decoration, assuring that, “stern administrative action is being taken on the clearly misdirected officer who acted entirely without authorisation.”
Meanwhile, the Office of the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, on Wednesday, reacted to the statement issued by the spokesperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Wilson Uwujaren, denying the decoration of the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, as its Anti-Corruption Ambassador.
Ekweremadu, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu, stated that the EFCC Liaison Officer to the National Assembly, Mr Suleiman Bakari, and his team, applied for and susbsequently paid a courtesy call on the Deputy President of the Senate in his Office, on Tuesday.
Bakari, according to him, solicited the support of the Senate and National Assembly towards the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration, and even presented a frame with a bold picture of President Muhammadu Buhari, bearing the inscription: “If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”
He added that Bakari, on behalf of the Acting Chairman, management and staff of the EFCC decorated Senator Ekweremadu as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador of the EFCC.
According to him “It is, therefore, my honour, Your Excellency, to, on behalf of my Acting Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Mustafa Magu and the entire management and staff of the EFCC, decorate you as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador and formally present this frame, as a token of our appreciation to your person and office, and as a symbol of institutional partnership between the EFCC and the National Assembly.”
Anichukwu insisted: “As for the purported claim by the EFCC spokesperson that the agency has never and could not have decorated anybody as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador, since, according to him, “the Commission is not in the habit of awarding titles to individuals,” we wish to refer him to December 7, 2007, when the Nuhu Ribadu-led EFCC conferred the Role Model Award in the Fight Against Corruption, on certain persons, including a former President of the Senate, a taxi driver and a former Justice of the Federal High Court, at the Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.
“That the said denial by the EFCC is coming in three different statements all within a few hours is, therefore, baffling, inexplicable and contradictory.
“Taking cognizance of the command structure of the agency, we also wonder whether Mr Bakari could have acted on his own or read from a prepared text without recourse to the commission, which he represents, especially as the visit and decoration was never solicited in the first place.
“We leave the rest to discerning members of the public to read in-between the lines and make their own judgments.
“Ambassador or no Ambassador, the Deputy President of the Senate will not back down from his legislative efforts and advocacy as captured in his several public statements and lectures over the years, pushing for legal and institutional reforms such as Special Anti-Graft Courts; security of tenure and financial autonomy for the EFCC and related agencies. Only such reforms would fast-track justice and insulate the anti-corruption agencies from external interference and self-reversals.”