Home News Nigerian Anti-graft Agencies, EFCC, ICPC Must Probe Public Officers Who Bought N100 Million APC Presidential Form — Lawyer

Nigerian Anti-graft Agencies, EFCC, ICPC Must Probe Public Officers Who Bought N100 Million APC Presidential Form — Lawyer

by James Davies

Abuja-based human rights lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other anti-corruption agencies, to investigate public office holders who purchased the presidential nomination form of the ruling All Progressives Congress at N100 million.
Olajengbesi, in an article on Tuesday, explained that Section 6(L) of the EFCC Act has vested the agency with the responsibility to investigate financial transactions when there is a reasonable ground for suspicion of the source of wealth of a person.

The APC had recently announced that the fee for nomination and expression of interest forms for presidential hopefuls is N100 million, while governorship aspirants will pay N50 million. This had attracted public outrage.
Some public office holders who have purchased the forms include Emeka Nawjuiba, Minister of State for Education; Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation and Dr Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment.
Also, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State; Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and former Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu are among the aspirants who have picked up the forms.
Olajengbesi urged EFCC to probe the ministers as he quoted figures from the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission showing the average annual basic salary and allowances of the public officers.
He urged the EFCC to query avenues through which the ministers and other aspirants were able to acquire N100 million forms.
Olajengbesi, however, said the failure of the EFCC to carry out this investigation will set a dangerous precedent and only send a message to the world that the agency is weak and has compromised on its primary mandate.
The public interest lawyer wrote, “The Nigerian Law has vested the EFCC with the inherent powers to investigate persons, government bodies and institutions where it appears that a person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties owned are not justified or reconcilable by his verifiable source of income.
“Specifically, the EFCC Act clearly provides in Section 7(1)(b) that the EFCC has power to – “cause investigations to be conducted into the properties of any person if it appears to the commission that the person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income;
“Again, following the express provision of Section 6(L) of the EFCC Act, the EFCC has the responsibility to collect all reports relating to suspicious financial transactions to analyse and disseminate to all relevant government agencies.
“The implication of the above provision of the law is to the effect that, where there is a reasonable ground for suspicion of the source of wealth of a person through their manner of living, the EFCC has a duty at law to cause an investigation into such a person’s source of wealth.
“To the crux of this matter, it is no news that the APC from recent news has set a whopping ₦100 million as the price for obtaining the Presidential Nomination and interest form.
“It is also a fact that the Minister of State for Education Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, the Education Minister Adamu, the Labour Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige and others are reported to have recently purchased the same party’s presidential nomination form worth ₦100 million each.
“The salient question here is that, whether the price of the form is not beyond the legitimate income scale of a Minister in Nigeria.
“There is no doubt that the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission is the body charged with the responsibility of handling the salaries of Public Officers in Nigeria.
“Following the remuneration package made public by the agency, the average annual basic salary for a Minister of State is ₦1,957,580. Adding the allowances sums up to roughly ₦11,647,601 annually.
“Again, the annual sum of ₦11,647,601 multiplied by 4 years in office sums up to ₦46, 590,404. This raises the question, where does a Minister get ₦100 million to obtain a Presidential nomination and interest form?
“It is crystal clear that the amount for the said form is way above the income of a Minister of State in Nigeria even if the Ministers have not been fending for their families from their salaries.
“It is on this note that I call on the EFCC and all other concerned government agencies in Nigeria to do the needful and investigate the Ministers and others who subsequently purchase the APC Presidential nomination and interest form for ₦100 million because it raises a clear suspicion as to the sources of their wealth especially considering the office being aspired to pays less salary cumulatively in a single tenure than the actual cost of declaration.
“Failure of the EFCC to investigate the source of their respective N100 million will set a dangerous precedent and only send a message to the world that the agency is weak and has compromised on its primary mandate.
“The agency must fine-comb through the candidacy and campaign of all of the presidential aspirants notably those in the APC who have not batted an eyelid in paying the ransom called the nomination fee of their party.
“Let’s not concern ourselves with the fact that all of said ‘declarants’ oversee ministries where in one instance, ASUU has been on strike with public tertiary education avoidably put on hold and students devilishly idle and stranded at home, another runs a ministry where terrorists have taken over train system with most victims still languishing unaided in terrorist dens spread across the woodlands of the ungoverned spaces in the north.
“The third, a vivacious and bumbling man of limited physical reach has run a ministry whose very function is criminally questionable for its lack of presence and feature in the employment woes of the country.
“But perhaps where competence cannot reach, the overarching persuasion of big bucks with questionable sources will. After all, Nigeria seems to simply grind on ungoverned whilst Political Gladiators squabble and grapple for a bucket load of their respective portion of our collective pound of flesh; leaving the country to bleed out and die.
“To protect our common sensibilities and safeguard the future from yielding again to a repeat of our past by presenting unscrutinized and suspicious persons to plough the field of elections thereby resorting to promoting violence and election hooliganism, we must bank on the EFCC, the ICPC and all other Government Agencies to swing into force and cause a vigorous investigation to be conducted thereby verifying the sources of these funds and in the process, sieve the wealth from the chaffs.”

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