Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Aftermath of Farida’s sack: New ICPC chairman in trouble •Today’s Board inauguration threatened

THE inauguration of the new board of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)
appears to be hanging in the balance, following revelations from reports by local and international agencies, which described the newly confirmed chairman, Mr Francis Ugochukwu Elechi, as a Politically Exposed Person (PEP).
Elechi and five other members of the ICPC board were confirmed by the Senate on October 26, following their recommendation by President Goodluck Jonathan. Other members of the board confirmed by the Senate alongside Elechi are Alhaji Abdulahi Ado Bayero; Alhaji Isa Ozi Salami; Ekpo Una Owo Nta; Professor Olu Aina and Dame Julie Onum-Nwariaku.
The crisis rocking the planned inauguration of the new ICPC board is coming on the heels of the sack of the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs Farida Waziri, last week.
Sources linked the developments to a renewed bid to activate the anti-corruption war and take it to the next level.
A report of the Senate Committee on  Drugs, Narcotics, Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption presented to the Senate was ratified on October 26, leading to the confirmation of the new board.
But sources in the international anti-graft agencies, as well as local intelligence teams, told the Nigerian Tribune that  notwithstanding the Senate’s confirmation, the planned inauguration of the governing board of the commission was being threatened by reports which described the chairman as a PEP.
“If the government accepts some of the recommendations, especially on the chairman, which stated that he is a  close associate of PEPs, the new board could be thrown into crisis,” a source said on Monday.
Both local and international agencies were said to have made representations to the government at the weekend. Sources said that the international anti-graft fighters, who made representation against Elechi, were close to the same group which reported former chairman of EFCC, Mrs Waziri, to the presidency recently.
Said a source in the know: “A combination of foreign concerned persons and agencies and some local observer teams have sent representations to the highest authorities, indicating that they will not take Nigeria seriously if it continues to place PEPs in strategic positions in its anti-graft agencies. The groups have stated that their checks confirmed that Elechi is close to Politicians and Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs).”

According to sources, operatives of foreign anti-graft agencies had also confirmed that they would not cooperate with the EFCC and ICPC “if the government does not take urgent steps to depoliticise the personnel and leadership of the anti-graft agencies.”
An operative of a foreign agency, who has been on the trail of Nigeria’s anti-graft war, was said to have submitted that “political allegiance continues to be a major source of ineffectiveness and extreme snails pace of Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies.”
A report of one of the international agencies said: “Our checks on your incoming chairman of the ICPC confirms that he is a close associate of PEPs. His political leaning does not give us comfort. An anti-corruption czar must not take instructions from politicians, but from the constitution. Politicians look after themselves and look forward to the next election. An anti-graft leader must look after the constitution and look after the citizens.”
Sources within the Nigerian intelligence also confirmed that following protests by some Nigerian groups, the Nigerian intelligence groups also went to work on Elechi, especially after it had turned in reports which gave the Senate the go ahead to screen him and others.
It was gathered that the State Security Service (SSS) might also have turned in a negative report, when it digged further into Elechi’s circle of friends.
One of the local groups which also conducted searches on the new ICPC chairman lamented it would take its case to President Jonathan.
“We don’t know why the president will not listen to us on this matter. He listened to us during the period of reforms at the electoral commission and we had an election that is being hailed worldwide.
“We must now be hailed for fighting corruption in the true sense of it. Any of the ICPC nominees who is seen to have deep political allegiances should be given another assignment, not anti-corruption agency that requires a greater degree of impartiality and non-partisanship.
“The world is looking at a robust war against corruption by Nigeria and anti-corruption leaders must be fighters against corruption and not political accomplices,” the group said.