Members of the Peoples Democratic Party at the Senate have threatened to stop all forms of cooperation with the All Progressives Congress-led government if the executive does not stop harassing its members across Nigeria.
Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus on Wednesday condemned in totality the plot to remove the leadership of the Senate.
Addressing reporters in Abuja, the head of the PDP caucus, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, alleged that the present administration’s anti-corruption war was lopsided.
“We the caucus members having deliberated on stated issues examined our position on unwarranted threat to the legislative arm of government, particularly to the Senate leadership by the executive arm as well as the ongoing intimidation and persecution of the opposition party by the ruling APC.
“We condemn in totally the orchestrated plot to remove the president of the senate and his deputy through an illegal means,” he said.
“Invitation To Anarchy”
The PDP members also accused the executive arm of government of deploying a third instrument of coercion to intimidate an independent arm of government like the legislature.
They said the intimidation was a major threat to the survival of Nigeria’s democracy.
Mr Bwacha further told reporters that the glaring witch-hunt of perceived opposition element in the polity was an “invitation to anarchy”.
He cautioned that the war against corruption should not be selective.
“It must be fought with sincerity and not the politics that is now being played with the war against corruption.
“We condemned in clear terms the sentiment displayed in fighting corruption,” he reiterated.
The group also cited the freezing of the account of the Ekiti State Governor by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Within the next six months, federal authorities will begin to conclude cases filed against alleged corrupt individuals who are currently being prosecuted, a Nigerian government official said on Sunday.
In an interview on the current’s administration’s one year in office, the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on War Against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay denied allegations that the government was being selective in the anti-graft war assuring Nigerians that justice would prevail in all ongoing cases.
According to him, the persons that had access to funds were part of the previous administration and are being tried for looting the funds.
He said: “Vigorous dynamic prosecution that the EFCC has come across. The cases are progressing aggressively.
“It is a fresh start and a normal criminal case of sought use to take between 10 to 12 years and still be in suspense.
“If you follow what is going on now, the case are moving on. In some cases the government has concluded its prosecution and the defence has been opened.
“Within the next six months, there will be a series of concluded cases.
He assured Nigerians that there would be an end to what what he called “suspended cases”.
A former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, has expressed concern over what he called an ‘observed ineffectiveness’ of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in recent times.
He said that the anti-graft agency was becoming a toothless bulldog.
The former President made the observation on Saturday while addressing a gathering at his 79th birthday ceremony held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State in south-west Nigeria.
He commended the EFCC under its pioneering chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, insisting that the feats achieved then seemed to be going down.
Mr Obasanjo also expressed satisfaction on the war against insurgency, saying that “the country seems to be gaining the upper hand”.
He further called for more action against the menace.
Also giving his opinion about the anti-graft agency’s performance, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, had a different view.
Senator Akpabio said that legislation was being made to strengthen the institution.
At the occasion were family members, political associates, serving and former governors, members of the Federal Executive Council and members of the National Assembly.
Some of them described the celebrant as a detribalised Nigerian and an elder statesman.
The event was rounded off with the cutting of the birthday cake as dignitaries joined the former president and his wife at the occasion.
Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, says the fight against corruption in Nigeria looked one-sided because the indicted persons on trial are connected to one transaction that is currently being investigated.
Mr Mohammed told Channels Television on Sunday that the persons facing trial were all connected to the investigation of how the fund meant for the purchase of military equipment was used.
He claimed that some members of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) were also being investigated for other corruption cases which he did not mention.
“If you go to the EFCC today and ask them who are the people that are facing charges before them, you are going to find as many APC and as many PDP [Peoples Democratic Party].
“However, what gives the impression that the fight is one sided is the fact that it is simply one issue that is being investigated now. That is money meant to buy arms which was diverted for other uses and unfortunately, everybody involved in that happened to be in the PDP. From the NSA to others who he had named.
“When you trace this thing, because it is just a particular transaction that is the contract of 2.1 billion dollars that was awarded to equip our soldiers, everybody that you have showed us here have been mentioned as a result of that investigation from that single transaction,” the Minister stated.
Also explaining why it takes time to prosecute cases involving indicted persons, he said that from experience, “it takes between 34 days and seven years to convict a low profile criminal but when that criminal is high profile, it takes as long as 10 years to infinity to convict that person”.
“We have appealed to lawyers and judges to help us in this fight against corruption. We should not allow those who have been accused of corruption to explore legal loopholes to continuously frustrate prosecution.
On the continued detention and trial of some persons indicted for corrupt practices, the Minister urged those accused to be in a hurry to prove their innocence.
“They should stop employing delay tactics to frustrate the prosecution. None of them are in a hurry to prove their innocence. On the contrary, they are experts in delaying and frustrating prosecution.
“We will not be deterred and we want Nigerians to join in this fight against corruption,” he emphasised.
On the ruling party’s campaign promises and their fulfilment, Mr Mohammed said the party had had to prioritise its promises to ensure that they could be met.
“When you campaign, you say you will do a,b, c, but when you win election, you prioritise.
“We are still faithful to those promises, but as you have rightly said, when we were campaigning the price of crude was $100 a barrel, today it is $30 a barrel so definitely, we will have to downsize some of the things intended to do but this does not mean abandoning those promises.
“You do not make a budget for four years, you make an annual budget and in this years budget, we have outlined those parts of the policy that we intend to keep.
“Those we cannot keep this year, we will keep in 2017, 2018 and 2019. This is how government works,” the Minister pointed out.
He further said that the current administration was focusing on how to redeem its campaign promises, but said that the government was waiting for the approval of the 2016 budget before it would begin to implement its plans.
The Nigerian government says it has begun mobilising the military and task forces to stop the sabotage of oil facilities and kidnapping of citizens for ransom in Nigeria’s coastal areas.
At a meeting on Monday in Abuja, with a delegation from the United States Institute of Peace, President Muhammadu Buhari also said that his administration was giving the highest priority to the resettlement of displaced persons and rehabilitation of infrastructure in the northeast.
Over two million persons have been displaced in the northeast region by the over six years insurgency by the Boko Haram sect.
The US had commended President Buhari’s on his fight against corruption and he assured the delegation that his administration’s ongoing war against corruption would be fought within the ambit of the law.
Nigeria’s military has been accused of violating human rights in the ongoing war against the Boko Haram terrorists, but President Buhari said “mechanisms have been put in place to ensure respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism.
“We attach great importance to human rights. If there are breaches, they will be investigated and dealt with,” President Buhari stated.
The Nigerian President welcomed the growing international support, especially from the United States and Europe, for Nigeria’s efforts to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
He also expressed happiness with the support of Nigerians for the cardinal programmes of his government, the security of the country, the war against corruption and revival of the economy, which he said would continue to be vigorously pursued.
In her response, the leader of the delegation, Miss Nancy Lindborg, applauded the progress being made by the Buhari-led administration in ensuring greater security in Nigeria.
She promised the continued assistance of the Institute for the reconstruction and development work going on in Nigeria.
The House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes says it will work towards providing enough funds for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to enable the commission carry out its fight against corruption.
The Chairman of the Committee, Kayode Oladele, made this clear after the lawmakers visited the EFCC’s permanent site in Abuja on Wednesday.
Honourable Oladele said the National Assembly was ready to support the agency in any way they could.
The anti-graft war had heightened in Nigeria since President Muhammadu Buhari took over office in May, with the EFCC going after top government officials and government agencies’ bosses, in an attempt to recover stolen funds.
The President during his campaign said it was time to ‘kill corruption before it kills Nigeria’.
A prosecution witness and former wealth manager with the Commercial Resource Management Company has told the court how Mr Olisa Metuh allegedly gave her the sum of two million dollars and how she managed the funds for him.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission opened its case against the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Olisa Metuh at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday.
Led in evidence, the first prosecution witness, one Miss Nicole Ararume, told the court that she received two million dollars in 100 dollar bills from him which she took to two bureau the change companies for onward transfer to the Asset and Resources Management account of Mr Metuh and his company, Destra Investment Limited.
The lawyers to Mr Metuh asked for an adjournment for him to prepare materials required for cross examination but the judge refused to adjourn the cross examination of the prosecution witness on the grounds that there was no cogent reason before the court to do so.
Consequently, a second witness – the owner of a bureau de change company was invited to testify and he corroborated the first witness’s testimony.
He recounted how he received half of the said fund and transferred same to the account of Mr Metuh.
In what has become the usual, Mr Metuh arrived the court premises in the company of prison officials and in handcuffs but this did not deter him from exchanging banters and hugs with friends and relations.
In his earlier attempt to get an adjournment, counsel to Mr Metuh, Oyeachi Ikpeazu, had complained that it had been difficult to adequately prepare for trial as the prison officials have made interaction with his client difficult.
He told the court that the allegations of the witness were serious and there was a need to get the necessary documents to enable him adequately cross examine her.
The counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Tahir Sylvanus, objected to the application, saying: “It has been known to the defence that trial will commence today, as such, it should have adequately prepared for the case”.
Mr Sylvanus also told the court that he had front loaded all the account details relating to the transaction, as such there was no cogent reason why the hearing should be adjourned.
Again Mr Ikpeazu argued that he could not cross examine a prosecution witness based on its document but the defence would rely on its own generated document to do so.
The trial of the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Olisa Metuh, has started, with the opposition party’s spokesman requesting for a variation of his bail conditions.
Mr Metuh made the request before his trial began on Monday.
However, because the prosecution was just served, the trial judge, Justice Abang Obong, deferred hearing on the issue to January 27.
He, however, declined to adjourn the trial, asking the first prosecution witness to testify.
The witness, one Miss Nicole Ararume, claimed she was the wealth manager for Mr Metuh and his company Destra Investment Limited.
She narrated to the court how she received the sum of two million dollars paid in 100 dollar bills, which she took to a Bureau De Change for onward transfer to the Asset and Resources Management account of Mr Metuh and his company.
The lawyers to Mr Metuh, however, asked for an adjournment for him to prepare materials required for cross examination.
“Her allegations are serious and there is a need to get the necessary documents to enable me adequately cross examine her,” Mr Oyeachi Ikpeazu told the court.
However, the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Tahir Sylvanus, objected to the application.
He said: “It has been known to the defence that trial will commence today, as such, it should have adequately prepared for the case”.
Mr Sylvanus also told the court that he had front loaded all the account details relating to the transaction as such there was no cogent reason why the hearing should be adjourned.
Again Mr Ikpeazu argued that he could not cross examine a prosecution witness based on its document.
He told the court that the defence would also rely on its own generated document to do so.
The council to Mr Metuh further complained that it had been difficult to adequately prepare for trial as the prison officials have made interaction with his client’s difficult.
On Friday, a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court granted Mr Metuh bail in the sum of 300 million Naira and two sureties in like sum.
In the ruling, the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello, stressed that the sureties must be resident in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.
Mr Metuh is facing a seven-count charge of criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering.
A lawyer, Mr Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, says the war on corruption ongoing in Nigeria seems to be more of vendetta than it is of a desire to prosecute corrupt individuals.
He listed some persons standing trial – Sambo Dasuku and olisa Metuh – who he said had issues with the ruling party or President Muhammadu Buhari in the past, to back his opinion.
On Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Friday, the lawyer stressed that he had no grievance against the war on corruption or the administration of President Buhari, but insisted that the rights of Nigerians must be respected as enshrined in the constitution.
“Goalpost Of Justice”
“There seem to be some vendetta. We must advise the president correctly because we must face national lives.
“I cannot accept that human rights be subsumed under a war for corruption. To say that people will no longer be granted bail in Nigeria because they are facing corruption charges.
“If you look at the country, we are blessed as we are, with the President that we have. Well trained, disciplined, a devout Muslim who fears God and with a Vice President that is a professor of law, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a pastor in the Redeem Christian Church of God who rose to the highest rank of Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and revolutionise the judicial system in Lagos during his tenure.
“We cannot because we have ad-hoc in government we should shift the goalpost of justice,” he stressed.
Mr Olu-Adegboruwa also emphasised that the anti-graft agencies should not be used as a political device to witch-hunt the opponent, saying it will be to the detriment of other existing agencies of law enforcement like the police
He was of the opinion that the Police was the most effective agency to fight corruption because they were more spread across the country.
“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is just in Lagos and Abuja.
“Anti-corruption fight seems to be a distraction.
“Corruption is not just on stealing money. It is in abuse of office. It happens on the table of the civil servant, National Assembly and other places.
“If you say you want to fight corruption as a major programme it will be at the detriment of development of infrastructure.
“If that is the only attention you have and that is what is going on now. We don’t hear stories about what we doing to tackle blackouts, tackle the rot in the educational system the judiciary, where we need to declare a state of emergency.
“I have no objection to talking about it or taking steps towards addressing it but if you really want to fight corruption, the gateway to that is the judiciary,” the lawyer said.
On the ability of the anti-graft agencies to prosecute the war on corruption, he said that a look at the agencies handling the fight against corruption showed that there was no serious war going on.
“EFCC operatives that I have met are using their personal computers to conduct investigation.
“Why are the high profile cases collapsing in court? There is no enough manpower to go round all the corruption cases. There is no facility or method of research or investigation to come up with hard facts that will enable you to nail a high profile case.
But when you catch a Yahoo-Yahoo man [scammer] or an ordinary person who has no money or relatives, you take him to the EFCC office and beat him up or hang him and you get a confessional statement from him and the next day he is in court, intimidated and battered, the next week you get a conviction.
“But when it is a high profile case with someone with resources. He goes to court with senior advocates who will tear the charges brought by anti-grant agencies to shreds. The EFCC will reduce the charges until the case will be struck out,” he explained, insisting that the anti-graft agencies should be empowered more.
Deliberately Silencing The Judiciary
The lawyer also stressed the need for the judiciary to be independent, saying that at the moment, the judiciary is still under the control of the executive arm of government.
“The executive is in control of the judiciary in terms of funding and when the Judiciary has no independence as to its funding there is no independence.
“We run a state where the executive is deliberately silencing the judiciary with lack of funding to ensure that all its illegal actions are not properly challenged,” he added.
The Federal Government of Nigeria says 55 people have stolen from the nation to the tune of 1.34 trillion Naira between 2006 and 2013, more than a quarter of 2015 national budget.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, said persons linked to the loot were past government officials, bankers and businessmen.
At a press conference in Abuja on Monday, Mr Mohammed appealed to the media to collaborate with the government in the newly launched national sensitisation campaign against corruption.
The revelation is coming just as the anti-corruption fight by President Muhammadu Buhari has drawn various reactions, controversies and outright revelations.
Some Nigerians accuse the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration of engaging in a vendetta against the opposition, but the Minister of Information said Nigerians should not be misinformed about the true state of affairs and the true cost of the stolen funds.
He pointed out that irrespective of political affiliations or even the pending cases of corruption matters in court, everyone who had stolen public funds would not go scot-free.
The present administration is no doubt gathering steam in the anti-graft war, determined to change the narrative from all sides and the state of the economy.
The heightened anti-graft war has seen the arrest of some officials of the previous administration, with the latest being the arrest of the spokesman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Olisa Metuh.
Metuh’s arrest had further generated more reactions, with the opposition claiming that the arrests made by the anti-graft agency were mere witch-hunt.
The ruling APC has dismissed this claim.
Metuh is facing a seven-count charge of corruption and money laundering in the case before a High Court in Abuja.
A Federal High Court in Abuja has remanded the spokesman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, in prison following his ‘not guilty’ plea to a seven-count charge of corruption and money laundering.
Mr Metuh appeared in court on Friday, days after he was arrested by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for the charges.
According to the charges, the PDP spokesman transferred the sum of $1 million through his agent, Nneka Nicole Ararume, to one Sie Iyenome of Capital Field Investment, committing an offense contrary to Section One of the Money Laundering Act.
He is also accused of receiving the sum of 400 million Naira from the office of the former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, without a contract contrary to the Money Laundering Act.
Mr Metuh, is also accused of converting the said money to funds for political activities of the People’s Democratic Party.
He pleaded not guilty to the accusations.
Attempts by his counsel, Ifedayo Fadipe, to make an oral application for bail was rejected by the counsel to the EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir, who insisted that such an application could not be made orally.
Having listen to the two parties Justice Obong Abang agreed with the EFCC that such an application could not be made orally.
He then ordered Mr Metuh and his counsel to file his bail application within the next six hours, while the EFCC is to respond 24 hours after service of the of the bail application.
Hearing in the bail application has been adjourned to January 19.
before Mr Metuh was arraigned, the anti-graft agency asked him to return the money to effect his release.
Days after Mr metuh was held in detention, the opposition party’s federal lawmakers gave the EFCC 48 hours to either release its spokesman or charge him for the crime he was accused of.
The PDP caucus in the House of Representatives, led by the Minority Leader of the House, Representative Leo Ogor, said Mr Metuh had not committed any treasonable offence and should not be detained indefinitely.
Threatening to give the issue an international dimension should he be kept in detention without bail, the caucus said “the continued incarceration of the party’s spokesperson violates the law and borders on witch hunt”.
Another issue raised by the PDP caucus was what the members in the House of Representatives termed preferential treatment given to a member of the ruling party, Mr Jafaru Isa, who was also arrested over the same diversion of funds but was released eight hours later.
In defence to claims of preferential treatment, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Parry Ariase, argued that the APC member in question was released after he refunded part of the money he collected illegally from the office of national security adviser and that he still has a case to answer.
President Muhammadu Buhari says the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will soon publish the names of officials of the last administration who stole public funds and the amount surrendered to the coffers of the Federal Government.
The President told guests at the 15th session of the Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation Lecture in Abuja on Friday that the CBN had not published the list to avoid jeopardising investigations and further recoveries.
Addressing the gathering on the administration’s fight against corruption, President Buhari gave more revelations on the nation’s stolen funds which had garnered various speculations in the last few months.
According to the President, the war against corruption is gathering momentum.
“As I stated recently, a good number of people who abused their positions are voluntarily returning the illicit funds. I have heard it said that we should disclose the names of the people, and the amount returned.
“Yes, in due course, the Central Bank of Nigeria will make information available to the public on the surrendered funds, but I must remark that it is yet early days, and any disclosure now may jeopardize the possibility of bigger recoveries.
“But we owe Nigerians adequate information, and it shall come in due course. It is part of the collective effort to change our land from the bastion of corruption it currently is, to a place of probity and transparency,” President Buhari explained.
“No Friend, No Foe
He also told the gathering that Nigeria’s rating on the global corruption index had risen rather than dropped.
“Quite frankly, the anti-corruption war is not strictly about me as a person, it is about building a country where our children, and the forthcoming generations, can live in peace and prosperity. When you see dilapidated infrastructure round the country, it is often the consequence of corruption.
“Poor healthcare, collapsed education, lack of public utilities, decayed social services, are all products of corruption, as those entrusted with public resources put them in their private pockets. That must stop, if we want a new Nigeria. And that was why I said at another forum that people need not fear me, but they must fear the consequences of their actions.
“Corrupt acts will always be punished, and there will be no friend, no foe. We will strive to do what is fair and just at all times, but people who refuse to embrace probity should have every cause to fear,” the President said, reiterating his commitment to ‘killing corruption’, a promise he made during campaigns.
Another speaker, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Reverend Father Mathew Kukah, also reverberate the President’s views.