EFCC, Ekweremadu Trade Words Over Anti-corruption Ambassador Award

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, is not an anti-corruption ambassador of the agency.

The EFCC, therefore, urged members of the public to disregard the report stating otherwise.

The spokesperson for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement that the EFCC National Assembly Liaison Officer, Suleiman Bakari, went beyond his assignment by decorating Ekweremadu.

He said as an anti-corruption agency that could arrest any individual found wanting, the EFCC could never name anyone as its ambassador.

Excerpt from the statement read, “The attention of the EFCC has been drawn to some reports in the print and online media, on April 20, 2016 claiming that the anti-graft agency has decorated the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, as “Anti-Corruption Ambassador”.

“According to a statement issued to the Press by the Special Adviser to the Deputy Senate President, Uche Anichukwu, the purported decoration, was carried out by the EFCC National Assembly Liaison Officer, Suleiman Bakari who was quoted to have said: ‘On behalf of my acting chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa Magu and the entire management and staff of the EFCC, decorate you as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador and formally present this frame, as a token of our appreciation to your person and office, and as a symbol of the institutional partnership between the EFCC and the National Assembly’.

“The EFCC totally dissociates itself from the purported action of Sulaiman Bakari as he acted entirely on his own. He clearly acted outside his brief as a liaison officer as the management of the Commission at no time mandated him to decorate Ekweremadu or any officer of the National Assembly as Anti-Corruption Ambassador.

“The statutory mandate of the EFCC is the investigation and prosecution of all economic and financial crimes cases, which does not include the decoration of individuals as anti- corruption ambassadors. The Commission is not in the habit of awarding titles to individuals. And those enamoured of titles, knows the quarters to approach for such honours, not the EFCC.

“Members of the public and stakeholders in the fight against corruption are enjoined to disregard the so-called decoration.”

I Didn’t Beg To Be EFCC’s Anti-Corruption Ambassador – Ekweremadu
However,the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has reacted to EFCC’s statement denying conferment of Anti-Corruption Ambassador award on him, saying, he never solicited for it.

Reacting through his Media Aide,  Uche Anichukwu, the deputy senate president, said he would continue to push for legal and institutional reforms such as Special Anti-Graft Courts; security of tenure and financial autonomy for the EFCC and related agencies.

 In his words, “We want to put it on record that the EFCC Liaison Officer to the National Assembly, Mr. Suleiman Bakari, and his team, applied for and subsequently paid a courtesy call on the Deputy President of the Senate in his Office on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

“Mr. Bakari, amongst other issues he raised, solicited the support of the Senate and National Assembly towards the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration, and even presented a frame with a bold picture of President Muhammadu Buhari, bearing the inscription: “If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”.

“Mr. Bakari also, on behalf of the Acting Chairman, management, and staff of the EFCC  decorated Senator Ekweremadu as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador of the EFCC.

His words: “It is, therefore my honour, Your Excellency, to on behalf of my Acting Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa Magu and the entire management and staff of the EFCC, decorate you as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador and formally present this frame, as a token of our appreciation to your person and office, and as a symbol of institutional partnership between the EFCC and the National Assembly”.

“It is also a fact that the visit and decoration was captured in both pictures and video.

“As for the purported claim by the EFCC spokesperson that the agency has never and could not have decorated anybody as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador, since, according to him, “the Commission is not in the habit of awarding titles to individuals”, we wish to refer him to December 7, 2007, when the Nuhu Ribadu-led EFCC conferred the Role Model Award in the Fight Against Corruption, on certain persons, including a former President of the Senate, a taxi driver, and a former Justice of the Federal High Court at the Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.

“That the said denial by the EFCC is coming in two different statements all within a few hours is, therefore, baffling, inexplicable, and contradictory.

“Taking cognisance of the command structure of the agency, we also wonder whether Mr. Bakari could have acted on his own or read from a prepared text without recourse to the Commission, which he represents, especially as the visit and decoration was never solicited for in the first place.

“We leave the rest to discerning members of the public to read in-between the lines and make their own judgments.

“However, Ambassador or no Ambassador, the Deputy President of the Senate will not back down from his legislative efforts and advocacy as captured in his several public statements and lectures over the years, pushing for legal and institutional reforms such as Special Anti-Graft Courts; security of tenure and financial autonomy for the EFCC and related agencies. Only such reforms would fast-track justice and insulate the anti-corruption agencies from external interferences and self-reversals.”