A top government official in Sokoto state has accused Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of deliberate falsehood and smear campaign to malign the integrity of the State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal over the alleged ‘pardon’ granted to five persons standing trial for corrupt practices.
The EFCC had last week, challenged the power of Governor Tambuwal to ‘pardon’ five persons standing trial for corrupt practices in offences allegedly committed during the regime of former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa who ruled between 1999 and 2007.
The five persons allegedly pardoned by Tambuwal include two serving commissioners, Tukur Alkali and Isa Achida.
Others are the Chairman of the Governing Board of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi; the member representing Isa constituency at the House of Assembly, Alhaji Habibu Modachi; and a Permanent Secretary, Isah Bello.
The five people were all arraigned in 2009, two years after the end of Bafarawa’s tenure, over an alleged N15bn fraud. The former Governor is also a defendant in the case.
Reacting to the development, a top official in the state ministry of justice told reporters that EFCC was ‘economical with the truth’ when sending out a post on its Facebook page on the issue.
The official who on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the press on the issue, said the foundation of the case was more or less politically-motivated, and Tambuwal only interfered in it to right a wrong committed by the last regime of Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko.
The official said: “The EFCC will do itself a lot of good if it weans itself of politically-motivated cases in order to boost its reputation and enhance the credibility of the fight against corruption in the country.
“This case was filed in the first instance because Wamakko fought tooth and nail to ensure that leading lights of the Bafarawa regime were prosecuted at all cost.
“A commission of enquiry, under the leadership of Aminu Ahmad was set up which indicted the said persons. Many issues were raised about the procedure adopted by the commission. Upon their indictment, the EFCC filed charges in court against the persons based on the commission’s report and the white paper issued by the government.
“But two years ago, after waiting for eight years to quash the adoption of the commission’s report through legal means failed due to delays in court, the persons wrote to the new administration calling for a review of their indictment. The state government, based on strong case they had, reviewed the work of the commission of inquiry and discovered some errors in arriving at its final decision. The government then reached a conclusion that the report was not fair to some of the persons and eventually quashed the indictment in the spirit of justice and fairness.
“Quashing of the indictment has nothing to do with the EFCC’s case in court. It was the natural thing to do since those indicting have a strong case of not given a fair hearing in the first instance.
“Seeing that the foundation upon which the EFCC based its case against them was faulty and was eventually quashed by the government, the defendants approached the court with the new document issued by the government, and Justice Abass Bello discharged them and advised EFCC to base its case on other things if it hopes to continue with the prosecution of same people on same matter.
“How EFCC went public with a different thing to what transpired in court surprised everyone involved in the case. However, now that an appeal has been filed, we will pursue the matter to a logical conclusion,” the official added.
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