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Stakeholders Charge EFCC Chair, Bawa To Resist Political Interference, Knock FG For Neglecting Corruption Reports

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Joel Ajayi

Heads of renowned investigative news organizations have berated the federal government and anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria over the neglect of investigative corruption reports by various media organizations.

The Director of Daily Trust Foundation, Dr. Theophilus Abba led criticisms during a radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG, Wednesday in Abuja.

While expressing his dissatisfaction on the way and manner corruption stories are swept under the carpet by the past and present governments, Abba stressed that the constitution empowered journalists to hold government accountable but emphasized that the responsibility solely lies with the government and anti-corruption agencies to ensure culprits are brought to book as soon as investigative corruption reports are published.

He revealed that his organization unearthed uncountable corruption in the course of their investigation and wondered why the government will not go after individuals who misuse public funds.

“How can government put in a minimum of N30 million into a healthcare project and at the end of the day, it is either not completed or abandoned and the people who are supposed benefit from this project don’t access healthcare and no one is punished.”

On the appointment of 40year-old Abdulrasheed Bawa as new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abba urged the new helmsman to do better investigation to avoid unnecessary embarrassment to the commission, adding that “it is not the age of the EFCC Chairman that matters but his values and ability to resist to be ruined by those who brought him into the position.”

The Chief Executive Officer OF Sahara Reporters, OMOYELE SOWORE stated that government reluctance in acting on corruption investigations was because politically exposed Nigerians are usually indicted in their reports.

According to Sowore, corruption investigations done by Sahara Reporters alone are enough ammunition to put away many corrupt officials if Nigerian government was genuinely fighting corruption.

“There is a difference between fighting corruption and using corruption to fight enemies of government. There is also in some cases where they use the fighting against corruption to confuse the fight against corruption.

“you can imagine if when we exposed Gen Buratai he was immediately removed and persecuted, we wouldn’t have lost many lives in Maiduguri, Borno State and other states because of his incompetence to curtail corruption.”

On the newly appointment of Bawa as EFCC Chairman, He said: “I don’t see how Abdulrasheed Bawa can cover much ground no matter how good he might be when he was brought into that position by the Attorney General of the Federation, and I don’t see how Bawa can go anywhere because he will need to go through these guys,” Sowore stated.

On his part, Executive Director of ‎International Center for Investigative Reporting, Dayo Aiyetan averred that from his organization’s experience the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is not ready to fight corruption, lamenting that impunity has gained more ground this time.

Aiyetan stressed that the existence of a ghost Chief Economic Adviser under the nose of President Buhari where millions of naira have been approved over the years was a clear sign of lack of seriousness in the fight against corruption.

He also revealed that many Nigerians exposed of stealing from government coffers by ICIR in the past are currently in the National Assembly and maintained that the media is vital in nation building anti-corruption war and called on the EFCC Chairman to do all within his power to resist political interference.

Aiyetan stated that one of the significant hindrances to fighting corruption and impunity in Nigeria is lack of assets forfeiture law.

” Government officials who are stealing public funds use the instrument of state institutions to prevent themselves from being brought to justice. Let the National Assembly come up with an asset forfeiture law, that will be a huge disincentive to stealing public funds,” Aiyetan advised.

While the Chief Executive Officer of TheCable, SIMON KOLAWOLE noted that the inability of the government and anti-graft agencies to take action against officials indicted in investigative corruption reports is tough and demoralizing for journalists, lamenting that out of ten stories published the government may likely react to just one.

Kolawole, however, warned EFCC Chairman, Bawa to avoid media trial because it was making mockery of the Commission’s mandate and charged him to go after corrupt officials in the present government.

The syndicated radio program is produced by PRIMORG with the support from the MACARTHUR FOUNDATION.

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Insecurity: Armed Men Attack Presidential Villa

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…There Was An Attempt To Burgle Buhari’s Chief Of Staff’s Residence – Presidency

Report have it that, Armed men suspected to be robbers invaded the residences of two senior aides to President Muhammadu Buhari inside the precinct of the Presidential Villa, administration officials and security sources have told Peoples Gazette, raising fears that the rising insecurity across the country was drawing closer to the elite than previously estimated.

The incident on May 9 (yesterday) prompted Ibrahim Gambari and Abubakar Maikano, the chief of staff and admin officer, respectively, to abandon their residences, sources said.

“Their houses were robbed and the robbers packed money and other valuable assets from both houses,” an aide to the informed about the robbery told The Gazette.

It was not immediately clear whether or not valuable documents of state interest were carted away by the intruders, but The Gazette heard that the residences were thoroughly ransacked.

“The robbers took away as much as possible from both places,” a security officer that confirmed the incident said. “What is more unfortunate is that no one has been arrested.”

Officials also said Mr Gambari was given an official residence at the Defence House, but has not been living there, preferring instead to live inside Aso Rock and be close to the president.

Nigeria’s presidential palace just west of the city centre has long been seen as highly fortified and far beyond the reach of burglars, bandits and other criminals currently holding the vast swathes of the country to ransom.

But as criminal activities overshadow other matters of national consequences, Mr Buhari has faced calls to act urgently before it would be too late.

Armed bandits have abducted thousands of citizens since January alone, claiming billions in ransom payments at an alarming rate.

No explanation was immediately rendered for the invasion and why it was not prevented by the ubiquitous contingent of security officers, especially those of the State Security Service, guarding the fortress.

Mr Gambari did not immediately return a request seeking comments.
A spokesman for the SSS said he would not comment on the matter and a spokeswoman for the police in Abuja abruptly disconnected the call upon hearing The Gazette’s enquiry was about a security breach at the Presidential Villa.

Meanwhile presidency revealed that there was an attempt to burgle the residence of Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidency has said.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed that the incident occurred very early on Monday morning.

His confirmation followed the report by an online news medium, Peoples Gazette, that gunmen suspected to be robbers invaded the residences of Gambari and another senior aide to the President, Abubakar Maikano – the Admin Officer, located close to the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Quoting administration officials and security sources at the villa, the news outfit said that the incident forced Gambari and Maikano to abandon their residences.

The burglars were said to have raided the two houses where they reportedly packed money and other valuable assets.

‘A Foolish Attempt’

While he was silent on the purported incident at Maikano’s residence, Shehu noted that Gambari confirmed what he described as a foolish attempt to burgle his house.

“The Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, has confirmed that there “was a foolish attempt” to burgle his residence at 3:00am this (Monday) morning, but it turned out to be unsuccessful,” the President’s spokesman said in a tweet.

He added, “Professor Gambari, whose house is on a street next to the Villa, has assured that there is nothing to worry about from the incident.”

According to Peoples Gazette, the residences of the two senior aides to the President were thoroughly ransacked and no one has yet to be arrested in connection with the incidents.

This comes amid the disturbing rate of insecurity in the country with several calls on the Federal Government to secure the lives of the people and their properties.

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