By Taiwo Oluwadare
The office of the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu on Wednesday issued a press statement insisting that the EFCC decorated Ekweremadu as its anti-corruption ambassador.
Reports had it on Tuesday that the anti-graft body, through its Laison officer in the National Assembly, Mr. Suleiman Bakari, made the deputy senate president its ambassador. But this morning, the EFCC, through its spokesman, Wilson Uwujare, distanced the agency from Ekweremadu, saying that the Laison officer acted on his own.
Below is the press release from Ekweremadu’s office:
Anti-Corruption Ambassador: EFCC’s Baffling Denial
“The attention of the Office of the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has been drawn to a statement purportedly issued by the spokesperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, denying that the agency decorated the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu as its Anti-Corruption Ambassador.
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 susbsequently 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 dont 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 confered 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 contradicitory.
Taking cognisance of the command structure of the agency, we also wonder wether 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 pulbic 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”.
Special Adviser (Media) to Deputy President of the Senate.