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Sagay: I Haven’t Met, Spoken With The EFCC Chairman In Over 7 Months

There were indications on Sunday that the anti-cor­ruption war being waged by President Muhammadu Bu­hari’s administration may have suffered a major setback following revelation by Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corrup­tion (PACAC), that he had neither met nor spoken with Ibrahim Umar, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Com­mission (EFCC), since his appointment in July 2020.

PACAC was established in August 2015 with the mandate to promote the reform agen­da of the government on the anti-corruption effort, and to advise the present adminis­tration in the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system.

The committee enjoyed a harmonious working rela­tionship with Ibrahim Magu, the former EFCC Acting Chairman and even recom­mended him for confirma­tion as substantive chairman of the commission on several occasions.

Even when Magu was re­jected twice by the 8th Senate, Sagay had advised President Buhari not to replace him, saying he could serve as act­ing chairman indefinitely. Magu was later suspended by President Buhari and was replaced by Umar who, until his appointment, was the an­ti-corruption agency’s Head of Operations.

Speaking with Daily Inde­pendent, Sagay said he had neither met nor spoken with Umar since his appointment over seven months ago, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a major barrier.

When asked about the re­lationship between his com­mittee and the acting EFCC chairman since his appoint­ment, Sagay said: “Unfor­tunately, his appointment coincided with the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. So, I have not been to Abuja for a year. So, I have not met the acting EFCC chairman and we have never spoken togeth­er.

“But we have made some arrangements; we arranged a programme with the heads of the various anti-corruption agencies to be present and we will have some discussion on how they should cooperate with each other and supply relevant information to each other and back up each other in any investigation or pros­ecution.

“We had arranged all that but unfortunately, COVID-19 made us postpone it. If we had made it virtual, it would not be as successful as when we are all together. So, because of that I have not met him.”

Also speaking on the re­quest by the president asking the Senate to confirm Abdul­rasheed Bawa as substantive chairman of the EFCC, Sagay said nobody could question the president’s decision to ap­point whomever he desires to head the commission.

“If he has sent another name to the Senate for confir­mation, the implication is that he has dropped Magu. On the claim by his law­yer that justice was not served in Magu’s case, that could be true”.

“The whole thing is under some cloud somehow. That is the way I see it. I am not even happy about the situation but, well, one has to accept things like that. The president has the pre­rogative to forward the name of whomever he desires. I don’t think that can be ques­tioned. You can question his judg­ment but you cannot question his right to appoint whomev­er he desires to head the com­mission.”

However, speaking with our correspondent, some Nigerians believe all is not well with the anti-graft war, wondering how COVID-19 could have limited communi­cation between the agencies involved in the fight against corruption.

Monday Ubani, former Second Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), said given the impor­tance of both bodies in the fight against corruption, the fact that Sagay and Umar had not communicated in the last seven months showed that something was fundamental­ly wrong.

“If COVID-19 makes physi­cal contact impossible, we are now in an era where commu­nication is being conducted through technology and there are so many devices now that one can use to get in touch with one another no matter where you are in the world.

“So, it is very strange that there has been no communi­cation in the light of his role and the importance of his agency in the fight against corruption.

“If the acting EFCC chair­man is not in touch with the man that heads the presiden­tial advisory committee on corruption, then it is clearly obvious that something is fundamentally wrong.”

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the situa­tion has further confirmed its claim that there is a collapse of governance in the country. ­

Kola Ologbondiyan, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, said: “We have al­ways maintained that gover­nance has broken down under the APC. There is a total collapse of government with no one in charge. So, Prof. Sagay’s statement did not come to us as a surprise.”

Also speaking, Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-polit­ical organisation, said Ni­gerians would be deceiving themselves to believe that the anti-corruption war was being fought by the present administration.Yinka Odumakin, the organisation’s National Publicity Secretary, said the anti-corruption war had col­lapsed totally.

“It is clear that the an­ti-corruption war has collapsed totally. There is nothing going on called an­ti-corruption war, it is just deception. No wonder, they have just picked someone that is allegedly facing a theft charge as the new chairman of the EFCC. We will be deceiving ourselves if we believe that there is any serious anti-cor­ruption war going on in this administration.”

Source:-Independent Ng

| July 10, 2022.


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