By Ezra Odogu
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will begin investigation into the activities of some of the governors whose tenure expire on May 29, it was learnt yesterday.
The anti-graft body, which has written to some of them, is also beaming the searchlight on the commissioners who served in their administrations.
Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle, who confirmed the receipt of the agency’s letter, objected to what he described as “the consistent castigatiom of governors by the anti-graft agency”.
He frowned at a statement credited to EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, that he has sent invitations to outgoing governors and commissioners in a bid to begin investigation into alleged corruption and abuse of office perpetrated by them while in office.
Matawalle said in a statement in Abuja that while political office holders should account for their actions in office, EFCC should exercise its power to investigate targeted public officials judiciously.
He also queried the basis for restricting the investigation to governors, wondering why EFCC has not extended the same probe to public servants at the federal level.
However, officials of the agency could not confirmed the planned probe, merely saying that if there were letters by the anti-graft body, it could not have been “blanket invitations”.
Matawalle, who said that the investigation should be wholistic and not selective, maintained that “the recent invitations and pronouncement by the EFCC chair is imbalance, incomplete, hypocritical and unnecessarily skewed.”
In his reckoning, Bawa’s approach is counterproductive to the anti-corruption crusade.
Rejecting the selective probe, the governor said “in a bid to help the obvious knowledge-gap and inertia exhibited by the EFCC Chair, the probe should be all-embracing and cover all officers.”
He added: “I demand that the EFCC chair extend similar invitations to officers of the Presidency and members of the Federal Executive Council, which is the highest tier of government in the country.”
But the federal government said the governor was merely expressing an opinion
“The governor has the right to make suggestions. That is his own opinion,” the government said through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
Matawalle also said that before any probe by the EFCC can be meaningful, the EFCC Chairman should step aside.
He said: “To engender a broad-based investigation and an enlargement of the fight against corruption, I will also demand that Abdulrasheed Bawa excuse himself and surrender himself for investigation.
“Importantly, he needs to come clean with Nigerians on the way and manner he has prosecuted the anti-corruption fight.
“He needs to explain among others how seized assets by the EFCC are being sold without adherence to due process.
“He should explain, for instance, how he has assumed the role of the plaintiff, prosecutor and jury and how he has executed his brand of plea bargaining with suspected criminals and saboteurs of the Nigerian economy and agenda who instead of being put on trial, are walking freely all over Nigeria.”
Matawalle added: “It is when the EFCC Chair does this and becomes open, non-selective and all-embracing with his invitation, that will we take him seriously.
“It is only then will serious-minded officers who have served the people selflessly and meritoriously, and are not opposed to an examination of their books, and indeed Nigerians generally take him seriously.
“Without this, it is just a case of another person in government who has some explaining to do himself over allegations of corruption, high-handedness and abuse of office now asking others to account, by so doing, merely giving Nigerians a comic relief from the present challenging times they are experiencing.”