Still on EFCC and Jafaru Mohammed, By Sani Wakawa
When in 2003, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) hit the ground running under the authority of its pioneer Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the media firestorm that trailed the wake of its array of crime bursting activities, coupled with the praise shoutings from many well meaning Nigerians, set the standard for which most of the agency’s cases are being handled till date, characteristically speaking.
The EFCC’s maiden breakthrough happened when Ribadu arrested and paraded his own boss, the former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun for looting police funds.
Balogun who unfortunately was the first senior official to be convicted in Nigeria’s anti-graft drive, had his photo in handcuffs all over the papers and national TV. Even though he was later jailed four six months in 2005 by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, he had since been jailed by Nigerians who followed the matter through media feeds. The negative impact of the media coverage on Mr. Balogun and his family continue long after he had served his time in jail.
Fast forward to eighteen years now and that tradition appears to be a lingering hallmark of the Agency’s anti-graft war, at least compared to its Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
The EFCC has enabled Media narratives to become more and more powerful in influencing our criminal justice system without realising that journalism is meant to only take a chain of event(s) and craft a story that people can easily digest and NOT to become custodians of innocence and guilt in legal matters.
Typically, it may be recalled that for days the public has greeted with screaming headlines in respect of properties linked to one Jafaru Mohammed with the most recent development being the interim forfeiture order obtained by the EFCC. Since March 9, 2021.
Interestingly, findings indicate that the accused has not yet been charged before any court of competent jurisdiction, yet, he has been made out to be a monster, trampling on the right of presumption of innocence until legally found guilty with attendant consequence on his family and relations.
Dotting the Ts and filling the blank is a critical core of what the EFCC does, otherwise al ot of innocent people will be led to the slaughter.
It is therefore bewildering when preliminary checks indicate that the EFCC haven’t fully done its homework on the matter.
For example, the EFCC failed to inform the public that of the eight ‘choice’ properties listed against Jafaru Mohammed only one belonged to him which is a house he reportedly built years ago in Wamba District.
In securing the said interim forfeiture order, the EFCC failed to inform the court of the cost and ownership of the properties and what it simply did was to leave the column meant for cost and owner blank!
A recent report reveals that the anti-corruption agency also failed to list any of the ‘many filling stations’ the subject of the application admitted to having as well as the balances in the many accounts he was said to be operating.
It is also curious that the EFCC could not publish the forfeiture order since it was granted.
In as much as we are ever ready to use the might of our pen and the strength of our patroitism to stand with the EFCC in the fight against corruption, there is no doubt that we would use the same resources to stand in its way when it becomes clear that it is offering itself as a weapon for power play and political vendetta.
The EFCC should therefore clear the air on the missing blanks and allow the criminal justice system to take its course.
Sani Wakawa writes from Kano