That a wide gulf exists between the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Mohammed Adoke (SAN), the Attorney General of the Federation is becoming more obvious to Nigerians by the day. Just a few days ago, a statement emanated from the office of the anti-graft commission’s chairman that a prominent government officer is preventing her from doing her job effectively. A statement issued by Femi Babafemi, the Commission’s Head of Media and Publicity to that effect mentioned the “antics of a clique which has now chosen to work hand in hand with defenders of the corrupt, who are either facing trial or investigation, to frustrate the prosecution of corruption cases in court”. It was also contained in the statement that “after several moves to distract the Commission and frustrate efforts to investigate and file charges against their corrupt paymasters have failed to yield their desired goal, certain known elements in the defence of the corrupt fold have come up with a different identity and have found partnership in a clique in official quarters to wage war against the EFCC and its officials especially the Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri.
With the recent commencement of the trial of the high-profile suspect they are all fighting hard to shield from prosecution, they have come out again to create a controversy that Mrs. Waziri did not retire in the Nigeria Police as an Assistant Inspector General (AIG) but a Commissioner of Police (CP), with the intent that this will overshadow reports of the court trial of their paymaster.”
Many Nigerians who are of the opinion that the unnamed government official is no other person than the Attorney General, Mohammed Bello Adoke while the “paymaster” being referred to is James Onanefe Ibori, the former Delta State Governor who is currently standing trial in the United Kingdom for laundering billions of Naira belonging to his state during his eight year rule did not have to wait for long before the proof came.
Street Journal’s investigations revealed that earlier in the year, Adoke made a number of secret trips to the United Kingdom to negotiate the former Governor’s release. Investigations also revealed that the Attorney General’s trips were based on the desire to have the former Governor returned to Nigeria instead of making him face trial in the United Kingdom.
Street Journal also reported some of Adoke’s moves aimed at frustrating investigations in some cases of alleged corruption. An example of such was the investigation of the alleged N 6 billion scam at the National Judicial Institute. While the issue was being investigated by the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission, the AGF ensured that the Acting Chairman then was sent on terminal leave. Street Journal found out that the move was in the bid to protect the Chief Justice, Aloysius Katsina-Alu who happened to be the Provost of the institute.
To worsen the situation, the AGF lampooned the EFCC and ICPC while he was being screened by the Senate recently. He went as far as advocating that both anti-graft agencies should be merged together to forestall an overlap of functions.
A new battle line seems to have been drawn with the Attorney General’s investigation into Mrs. Waziri’s rank as at the time she retired from the Nigerian Police Force. Claiming to be acting on a petition from a non-governmental organisation named the Centre for the Rule of Law, Adoke has sent letters requesting for clarification on Mrs. Waziri’s rank on retirement. The petitioners have alleged that the EFCC Chairman is wrongfully claiming to have retired as an Assistant Inspector General of Police while she actually left the force as a Commissioner of Police.
In the Police Service Commission’s Chairman’s reply dated July 21, 2011 it was disclosed that Mrs. Waziri enlisted into the Police as a Cadet Inspector on February 28, 1965 and rose through the ranks to become Acting Inspector General of Police (Ag. AIG) and was posted to head the ‘F’ Department, Force Headquarters on May 26, 1999 and later ‘E’ Department (Training) on July 19, 1999, in the capacity of an Acting AIG.
The Police Service Commission also revealed that “she was still of the rank of Acting AIG until 28th February 2000, when she retired from the Force, having completed her mandatory 35 years of meritorious service.”
It is already being said that with the new move against Mrs. Waziri, she would be allowed to finish her term but she should forget getting re-appointed.
Investigations carried out by Street Journal also revealed that the EFCC Chairman has embarked on an image laundering mission having understood that a number of elements close to the Presidency are of the opinion that she should be replaced. Apart from trying to save her job, she is also trying to change the perception the Western world has about her and the agency she heads.
The American government has not hidden its opinion that the EFCC has failed to live up to expectation since Waziri took over. The Secretary of State once said the EFCC has “fallen off.”
A leaked Wikileaks cable also revealed some time ago that a former American Ambassador refused to grant Mrs. Waziri audience.
While many Nigerians still wonder what moral justification Adoke has to investigate Mrs. Waziri, others agree that the EFCC Chairman too is not without her own flaws.
The EFCC has come under criticism for its style which enables people accused of corrupt practices to enjoy their loot after being given sentences that could be likened to slaps on the wrists. Another factor that has subjected her sincerity to questioning is the fact that most of the former Governors who were accused of looting their states dry are still walking as free men. It has also been alleged that she tampered with the evidence being used to prosecute one of the former Governors.