Between Waziri and Her Critics
By Olabode Atinuke
The recent media frenzy about missing case files of ex-governors has again put the EFCC in the eye of the storm. For Farida Waziri, the Executive Chairman of the Commission, this obviously is not the best of time. With the dust raised by cynics about her personality and appointment barely settled, the recent hue and cry over her statements about the ex-governors suffices like another straw fashioned against the camel. I not only read the reports and viewpoints that trailed the infamous statement keenly for an insightful understanding, I have also been searching for a conviction as regard the fidelity or otherwise of the statement.
Get me right, I am saying that none of the reports venture to present or probe the factual base of the statement. How many case files did she actually inherit? Are they really missing? What are the evidences available for successful prosecutions? Are the petitions in those files sufficient to go to court? These and many more questions are still jostling for answers.
Consumed by a commitment to discharge her duty within the precinct of the law, Farida, perhaps innocently, obliged the public the true picture of what is on ground. But a section of the public saw it differently, as an attempt to save the heads of the ex-governors. In my opinion, I stand to be corrected though; Farida seems to me an ideologue of Bertrand Russell who said“What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires -- desires of which he himself is often unconscious. If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence”
When Nuhu Ribadu, erstwhile head of the Commission told Nigerians that there are cases against 31governors which he would try at the expiration of their tenure, was the claim subjected to scrutiny? From the above saying of Russell, is it out of place for Farida to scrutinize these case files with a view to establishing prima facie on them? What then is wrong for example if a petition, after painstaking investigation, turned out to be unsubstantial? Do these cases, according to Ribadu, have enough evidence to sustain prosecution?
So when Waziri says she did not inherit 31 ready made cases on ex-governors, what evil has she done by presenting the reality? She did not say that ex-governors who are yet to be prosecuted are absolutely free from such. She said she inherited 8 cases against ex-governors in court, she has completed investigation on three and charged them to court while she is still investigating others with scanty information when she came in to enable her build strong cases that can stand the test of time in the courts. I believe that in an ideal society, this is simple enough to understand that Waziri’s predecessor was merely grandstanding when he boasted that he had concluded investigation on 31 ex-governors. Apparently, if his claim was true, between May 29, 2007 and June 2008 when Waziri came in was a period of over one year, why were these ex-governors not arrested and charged to court as boasted? Information emanating from the EFCC showed that there were just scanty information or only petitions in those files when he delivered the guilt verdict. Have those calling for Waziri’s head today forgotten so soon the drama then? Do our people suffer collective amnesia that we cant remember that Ribadu merely played to the gallery? Our professional critics should search their conscience and stop visiting the iniquity of another man on an innocent woman. It is of no gain to pure attacks on her to gain relevance through undue media attention. Enough is enough!
This analysis may appear predominantly pro-Waziri but then, truth has no other name. No doubt, Nigerians’ expectations of the commission are high but the truth must be told. What Waziri said does not suggest a fore closure or a clean bill for any governor incumbent or former.
Besides, the fact that the EFCC boss was courageous enough to bear the burden of telling us the truth should not attract cynicism. According to her, fresh investigations are being conducted on these governors and other former office holders. This suggests to me that, Waziri wants to keep sealed lips on her job and only inform the public on the need to know basis. “One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, or honest,”opined Maya Angelou.
Waziri according to the commission Head of Media and Publicity, Femi Babafemi did not say that the commission can not account for files in its custody. The commission as empowered by its Establishment Acts ‘work on facts and not speculations’’ If truthfully, there are no sufficient evidence on any petition or allegation against anybody, it is just normal and sensible for the commission to take its time and tighten all loose ends in a matter before prosecution. After all, EFCC can only prosecute; the power of adjudication resides with the law court. Instead of vilifying Waziri over a procedural statement, she obviously needs our understanding, cooperation and total support.
Atinuke, teaches Mathematics in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom