Expensively fiddling as country careens (EFCC), by Chidi Odinkalu


The EFCC’s Controversial Pursuits and Dubious Setbacks
In late April 2024, the Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Pastor Ola Olukoyede, made a bold declaration: he threatened to resign if former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello wasn’t prosecuted. Despite the gravity of his statement, lacking a clear timeline or deadline rendered it devoid of any serious intent.

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Yahaya Bello, stripped of his constitutional immunity upon leaving office in January, found himself embroiled in a dramatic evasion from authorities. His successor, Governor Usman Adodo, orchestrated Bello’s clandestine relocation from Lokoja to Abuja, evading EFCC arrest attempts. This maneuver triggered a series of measures against Bello: withdrawal of security details, a nationwide watchlist by the Nigerian Immigration Service, and a declared fugitive status.

Yet, despite these concerted efforts, Bello’s elusive status remains bafflingly intact, raising doubts about Nigeria’s security apparatuses’ efficiency.

Meanwhile, EFCC’s struggles with Bello’s case have been conspicuous. Scheduled court appearances have consistently been met with Bello’s absence, compounded by legal maneuvers like his plea to transfer the trial venue from Abuja to his home turf in Kogi State. This tactic aims to leverage local sympathies, portraying Bello as a champion for Kogi’s interests amidst accusations of embezzlement.

Critics lament this scenario where a fugitive dictates legal proceedings from hiding, facilitated by lawyers seemingly complicit in undermining judicial integrity.

In a stark contrast, EFCC’s recent high-profile conviction of Idris Olanrewaju Okuneye, known as Bobrisky, for “Naira abuse” stirred controversy. Unlike Bello, Bobrisky faced charges related to his own funds, yet the Commission’s zeal led to a disproportionate six-month prison sentence without the option of a fine. This harsh verdict sparked accusations of selective persecution.

Amidst public outcry, EFCC’s leadership pivoted to other cases involving political figures like former Minister Hadi Sirika and ex-governor Willie Obiano, deflecting criticism while maintaining a veneer of activity.

Days before confronting Bello’s legal maneuverings for a venue change, the Federal High Court in Lagos delivered a perplexing judgment in a similar “Naira abuse” case involving Pascal Okechukwu, known as Cubana Chief Priest. Unlike Bobrisky, Okechukwu, backed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), negotiated a settlement involving a hefty fine and public sensitization campaigns, resulting in the case being struck out under controversial circumstances.

These developments underscore EFCC’s inconsistent enforcement practices, raising questions about fairness and impartiality in Nigeria’s judicial system.

In essence, while EFCC’s pursuits against figures like Bello make headlines, their outcomes and methods fuel skepticism and highlight systemic challenges within Nigeria’s anti-corruption efforts. The agency’s actions, often perceived as performative, underscore a larger crisis of credibility in tackling high-level corruption, leaving many to ponder the true efficacy of Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption body.

By Naija247news
By Naija247newshttps://www.naija247news.com/
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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