EFCC Vs Kwankwaso: A Test Case
Hassan S. Indabawa
Kano - Nigeria
Rampaging Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is now contending with a minister under late Sani Abacha’s military administration, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu whom it has accused of being unable to account for 15 million dollars, an accusation the former minister has severally denied.
The mass media reported Dalhatu Thursday as having described the accusation as spurious and an attempt to victimise him because he dared to identify with a group different from President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Political Camp.
A statement released by Dalhatu’s counsel, C.A. Candide Johnson, reads in part: “we consider it deeply suspicious that this matter has been dragged up at the time that our client has identified himself as an opponent of the so-called third term agenda promoted by elements of the present administration”.
Defences like this have been common and the
thrust of this discourse lies in this: an increasing feeling among
Nigerians that indeed, EFCC has been selective in the manner it arrest and
smears Nigerians not sympathetic to the cause of incumbent President
Obasanjo who created and funds the commission.
An opportunity now presents itself for the commission and its founder, Obasanjo, to prove that the activities of the commission are not directed at perceived enemies of the Obasanjo administration. This opportunity is in the form of Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Obasanjo’s loyalist and governor of the Kano state between 1999 and 2003 who was compensated after he lost the governorship in 2003 with being minister of Defence, a position he still holds.
Based on popular demand by the people of Kano state, Kwankwaso’s successor, Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano state, instituted a commission of enquiry into certain activities of Kano state Government (under Kwankwaso) between May 29 1999 and May 28, 2003. Specifically, the commission was tasked with reviewing and verifying projects, transactions, and contracts from 10 million Naira and above.
For short, the commission found Kwankwaso guilty of some misadventures and relying on the government white paper generated by the commission's finding and recommendations, efforts were made to get the former governor to answer for such misadventures. Such efforts repeatedly failed because the former governor spared nothing to frustrate them. But the cat and mouse game the defense minister subjected the process to may now be over because February 23, 2006 court of Appeal, Kaduna had struck out the suit earlier filed by the embattled former governor and may now contend with the reality of facing the dreadful EFCC.
By the way of emphasis, the EFCC has long been widely suspected of being hardly more than a willing tool in the hands of President Obasanjo to hunt down and destroy his political enemies, especially since the third term campaign began and divided Nigerians between those supporting the campaign and those condemning it.
When former governor of Bayelsa state, Diepreye Alamaiyseiagha was being troubled by the EFCC, a process that consummated into his impeachment, he said the corruption commission was after him because of his loyalty to the vice president Atiku Abubakar who had been having problem with the president. When former National chairman of ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Audu Ogbe fell out of favour with Obasanjo and was allegedly arrested by the EFCC last week, many said it was because he had ditched tent with anti-Obasanjo elements. When retired Brigadier General Mohammed Marwa was similarly picked up by EFCC, many said the commission decided to bring up old files to try him to truncate the man’s presidential ambition. The list is a long one.
Many Nigerians see the case of Kwankwaso as the right one which the EFCC and its founder Obasanjo, can use to tell Nigerians and the world that the Obasanjo administration is not pursuing any secret agenda using the commission. Kano people and the rest of Nigerians are waiting to see if the administration will make a sacred cow of Kwankwaso. He must be prosecuted the way other before him have been prosecuted. His own case will disabuse the mind of Nigerians who see false motives in the anti-Obasanjo or third term agenda opponents who have been punished and are being punished.
The Kwankwaso case is unique. It’s the people of Kano state, his own people, who are not satisfied with how he governed them that are asking for justice. They are the ones who clamoured for the commission of enquiry that found him guilty of certain acts while he was their governor. They are the ones who are saying now that the EFCC must prove its sincerity by the way they treat his case.
An examination of the Kano State government white paper on the report of the commission of enquiry into certain activities of Kano state government between 1999 and 2003 shows a fair minded governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau who, far from witch-hunting Kwankwaso, shows that all he wants to do is correct anomalies, especially such anomalies his people, the citizens of Kano state, indicate interest in correcting.
The Chief Judge of Kano state swore in the six-member commission of Inquiry which was headed by Hon. Justice Ahmed Badamasi as chairman on march 9, 2004; to inquire, put here briefly, one: into the receipts and disbursements of Ecological fund by the state government between 1999 and 2003; two: withdrawal of 62,689,700.00 meant for scholarship board; three: disbursement of N97,524,000.900 to non governmental organizations during the April 19, 2003 gubernatorial elections, and four: investigate loan/grant to Kano state Investment and Properties (KSIP) for the purpose of acquisition of shares of companies to individual or government organisations.
The commission commenced sitting March 19, 2004 and was, after litigations which were meant to stall progress by main subject, Kwankwaso, able to conclude sittings, made its report available, and for the government to issue the white paper by November, 2004.
For evidence that the Shekarau government never deliberately set out to malign Kwankwaso, read recommendation number two under Ecological fund, and government’s view:
The recommendation number 2: “That the former governor of Kano State Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso's failure to account for the balance of N850,051,982.33 ecological fund despite ample opportunities given to him is condemnable. He is therefore to be indicted for that. Government may take legal steps to recover the said amount, or he be prosecuted.”
Rather than take it all in its hand, government’s view reads, “Government accept the recommendation to indict the former governor but direct the ministry of Justice to refer the case of recovery of funds to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Shekarau government takes similar position on similar recommendations in findings and recommendations on all the items which constituted the terms of reference of the commission of enquiry. In each case too, officials who were found to be involved in unwholesome acts are reprimanded over their own sides of the condemnable acts and quite a few are commended for acts of transparency and uprightness the commission found them to have displayed.
Indeed, the white paper suggests in its message and language that incumbent governor, Shekarau, meant no specific harm against Kwankwaso and it is important that this should be noted, especially by all those who believe wrongly that Kwankwaso is being witch-hunted. Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, one can see from the white paper, is a very fair-minded governor.