By Simon Ujah, Kaduna
Pelumi Olajengbesi led Coalition of Public Interests Lawyers and Advocates, COPA, has reacted to the raid on Senator Shehu Sanis resident in Abuja by EFCC, describing Ibrahim Magu’s commission as a rogue agency on sycophancy mission against the senator.
The convener of the coalition made the remarks in a statement he personally signed and issued on Wednesday and made available to journalists in kaduna through Senator Shehu Sanis aide.
Titled “Ibrahim Magu’s EFCC – A rogue agency on a psycophancy mission against Senator Shehu Sani, coalition, lamented that “Never in the history of the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have the anti-graft agency been led by a recalcitrant head whose sworn mission, it clearly seems, is to go beyond all boundaries of professionalism and due process in proving his misplaced loyalty to his political godfathers or benefactors by deploying tax-payers labour and state manpower in prosecuting a war of attrition against a political enemy whose sole crime is being in the wrong books of those in power owing to his biting criticisms of the failures of government.
“Senator Shehu Sani’s illegal detention and media trial has once again spotlighted the depth of unprofessionalism, rot and bureaucratic decay that has become the lot of the EFCC and it is truly alarming that a chairman whose tenure remains unconfirmed and has long elapsed is allowed to plunge the agency into new and unbelievable lows.
“The allegations against Senator Shehu Sani seemed straightforward enough until the desperation to hang the man by all means took a turn into follyville. First, he was accused of obtaining a bribe of $10,000 to exert influence on the EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, to protect an associate, Alhaji Sani Dauda, from prosecution on a matter. When the public pointed out how stupid and ill-thought out such an accusation was especially because Senator Shehu Sani enjoys no cordial relationship with the EFCC nor its Chairman to be in a position to exert any form of influence on him, the accuser, egged on by the EFCC no doubt, changed his facts and alleged anew that the bribe money was $20,000 and it was collected by Senator Senator Sani to prevail on the Chief Justice, Ibrahim Tanko, to favor the accuser in a matter before the court. The CJN denied any such transaction, and once again, the narrative was switched as if being fetched from a senile mind bent on achieving a set agenda.
“For an anti-graft agency with sufficient manpower and investigative tools, it defies logic why the agency simply can’t reduce its accusation against Senator Shehu Sani into a coherent charge upon which he ought to be arraigned for the adjudicatory determination of his guilt or innocence. Indeed, the only reason Senator Sani remains detained without being charged to court is because his arrest and detention are not based on ascertainable facts but on trumped up charges that gives the EFCC an official excuse to shop for offences against him.
“Much against due process, Senator Shehu Sani’s privacy has been severally abused. His house has been ransacked and his phone accessed as the desperation for a crime to hang him is driving the frenzy of the EFCC beyond permissible practice in law and practice. Of what relevance is searching his home, offices and phone to the allegations that he received bribe? The bribe was allegedly conveyed via a bank cheque and as such his bank account ought to be under forensic examination and not his private and family life. The unauthorized ransacking of Senator Sani’s phones- which went as far as snooping around his WhatsApp group & personal messages, the illegal raid of his home and offices all point to a badly playing out script to find ANY minute reasons to prosecute the man as hitherto accusations are falling flat from want of evidence.
“These searches and raids on his personal life are violations of his Fundamental rights as a citizen of Nigeria and points to a personal vendetta against the man that has no bearing on any provable crime against him. Senator Sani is a prisoner of conscience and a pawn in the schemes of an agency head abusing his powers to curry political favour and relevance that he is losing by the day.
“The task before the EFCC is simple and straightforward- did Senator Shehu Sani receive a bribe? Is this provable? Does the EFCC operate by placing the cart before the horse? Why is the man being detained over allegations that are shaky and that keeps changing by the day? What business has the allegations of obtaining bribe by Senator Sani got to do with the EFCC directives that he declares his assets? Is he a public officer mandated by law to do so? Did he not declare his assets as a serving senator and is this record not a public document that can be easily accessed by the EFCC where it finds it needful to do so?
“The whole word continues to look on and laugh at us as we grapple as a nation with the arduous task of protecting state institutions from the ineptitude of egoistic power-jobbers whose constant preoccupation is the lobbying of goodwill from the corridors of power rather than the prosecution of the demands of their office by law. Ibrahim Magu has failed his primary duties as the head of Nigeria’s foremost anti-graft agency and any delay in his removal would simply deepen the rot his chairmanship is bringing upon the EFCC.
“It is clear that the embattled EFCC Chairman whose gimmicks and ineptitude has tired even his circle of supporters is hoping to score a political point to put him back in the graces of his political benefactors by illegally detaining and deploying state resources to oppress a marked critic of government. His antics are thinly veiled and evil, and they bring nothing but reproach and shame on the agency he leads and the government that continues to implicitly ratify his actions by keeping him in office even well beyond the expiration of his tenure.
“Officers and Agency Heads like Ibrahim Magu typify the sort of men who we must be rid of as a nation before their sycophancy strangles state institutions. Before it is too late, even as the sun continues to set on the professionalism of the EFCC as a state agency under Officer Ibrahim Magu, immediate action must be taken against his continued stay as head of the EFCC. Nothing short of stripping him of the powers to deploy the EFCC to his selfish enterprise of self-preservation can create the opportunity to set a new course for the EFCC.
“On Senator Shehu Sani, I reiterate my warnings that his trials are politically motivated. He has been subjected to ridicule and opprobrium for running the gauntlet of acerbic criticism against a government enamoured of power but oblivious of how to use same to improve the country and lives of those it leads. Our demand is simple- let him be taken to court without delay. His guilt or innocence can only be established thereof unless his continued detention is simply a state-sponsored or backed punitive action for his criticisms of the government and its retrogressive state policies.
“We have struggled and come too far as a nation to surrender the sanity of our democratic institutions to the whims of a frightened chairman who dreads the days outside office when his inadequacies are no longer covered by state power. Enough is Enough. Senator Shehu Sani should be let go or duly prosecuted but equally urgent, Officer Ibrahim Magu MUST GO. The sanitization of state agencies is no respecter of persons and the removal of Officer Ibrahim Magu would go a long way in shoring up the dwindling public trust and goodwill available to the President Buhari administration”, the coalition convener stated.
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