Posted by By Umar Yusuf on
A RAID by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday on the Yola private residence of the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ibrahim Bapetel, ended on a tragic note after a car driven by the operatives crushed a commercial motorcyclist to death and injured four others.
YOLA — A RAID by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday on the Yola private residence of the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ibrahim Bapetel, ended on a tragic note after a car driven by the operatives crushed a commercial motorcyclist to death and injured four others.
Incidentally, the killer jeep was one of the eight exotic cars impounded by the EFCC men from the SSG’s house located at the Karewa GRA.
The raid itself was the latest clampdown on functionaries of the state government in the last four days.
First to be picked up on Friday were the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. John Elias, and the Principal Private Secretary (PPS) to the state governor.
They were driven to Abuja in an 18-seater bus with number plate AU 330 YAB. During yesterday’s raid on Alhaji Bapetel’s residence, the EFCC men first cordoned it off. As news of the raid spread, scores of people thronged the street and adjoining ones to see things for themselves.
The operatives impounded about eight exotic cars believed to be belonging to the SSG and as they were driving them out one after the other, one of the operatives lost control of the jeep and rammed into the crowd.
The yet-to-be identified motorcyclist was watching the unfolding drama from his bike with number plate OH 608 YLA when he was hit by the jeep against a Toyota car. The victim died on the spot, while four others were seriously injured. It took sympathisers several minutes to remove the victim from the wreckage.
His fellow commercial motorcyclists quickly mobilised for what could have been a bloody confrontation with the EFCC operatives. But they were pacified and armed policemen were dispatched to the scene. The SSG was taken away by the EFCC men.
Meanwhile, the EFCC has deplored what it called "recent campaign by cronies and agents of some people who are at the receiving end of the sustained onslaught on 419, corruption, fraud, money laundering and sundry economic and financial crimes."
In a statement in Lagos, spokesman for the commission, Mr. Osita Nwajah, said some newspaper/magazine publications had made "wild claims, allusions and patently false allegations against EFCC and some officials of the commission."
Citing examples of such publications, he said: "In their most recent outing, a trio of hackers dressed up an obvious lie by saying that EFCC handpicked and sponsored three judges of the Lagos High Court to a training programme in South Africa and that this gesture was capable of compromising them, since they were hearing EFCC cases.
"It is true that the judges were in South Africa on a course but the programme was neither promoted nor sponsored by the commission. If our so-called human rights activists had done their homework, they would have discovered that the course was sponsored by the European Union (EU) under their technical assistance programme for Nigeria, for all designated EFCC judges in Nigeria. This fact is verifiable with the EU.
"In the first instance, there is nothing wrong in sending judicial officers on training to update their knowledge and broaden their horizon. Secondly, the matters these judges are handling which involve the areas of work of the commission have international dimensions and there is absolutely nothing wrong in exposing them to best judicial practices around the world. There is nothing clandestine about the programme which objective is to improve the capacity of the judges to enable them cope with the increasing sophistication of a great number of the cases (not necessarily EFCC cases) that they handle.
"Perhaps, we should also inform purblind traducers of EFCC that there are other previous and on-going assistance programmes for judges in Nigeria funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). All these efforts aim at improving our judicial system. It is the height of mischief and one of the loudest expressions of hatred for the judiciary and the nation, for anyone to suggest that Nigerian judges are being sent on training programmes by these international agencies for the purpose of applying selective justice.
"Again there was an attempt by the group to make an issue of the designation of certain judges in the Lagos State judiciary to handle EFCC cases. What they would have members of the public believe is that such designation which they claim was effected by the former Attorney-General of the Federation, Akin Olujimi at the prompting of the EFCC was inimical to the cause of justice. This allegation conveys the unmistakable message that those who placed the anti-EFCC advertisements lack understanding of the laws establishing and governing the operations of the commission and are, therefore, not in any position to pontificate on such matters.
"For the benefit of members of the public who may have been misinformed, the EFCC wishes to state that the former justice minister had no hand in the appointment of the judges. The law establishing the commission allows for the designation of certain courts to hear cases of the commission. Part 3, section 19 sub section 3 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act), 2004 states: ‘The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court or a High Court of a state or the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, as the case may be, shall by order under his hand, designate a court or judge or such number of courts or judges as he shall deem appropriate to hear and determine all cases under this Act or other related offences arising under this Act.’
"By the provision cited above, EFCC designated judges have been appointed all over the country (not just in Lagos). The intention of the law is to facilitate expeditious trial of suspects. This is in the interest of accused persons as they are saved the trauma of prolonged detention and also in the interest of the victims who get justice on time and the society which knows on time what, how, when, where and why anybody did what he/she did and satisfied with the fact of justice having been done to all parties concerned, engages the automatic process of social catharsis.
"Those who by choice are blind to the true intention of the law have taken that position for clearly selfish reasons. But at EFCC we are conscious of the fact that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ which is why we shall continue to press for expeditious trials. Fortunately, the EFCC Act is not Nuhu Ribadu’s law. It is an Act of the National Assembly which in its wisdom felt the cause of the anti-corruption crusade would be better served by having courts and judges designated to hear EFCC cases. The lawmakers’ decision has been vindicated by the steady progress so far recorded by the commission in the prosecution of its cases. Before they go off singing the song of ‘judicial aberration,’ we should also draw attention of anti-EFCC gangs to the fact that Section 19 of the ICPC Act makes provision for designated judges to hear ICPC matters. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also has a special tribunal on investment related matters, and then of course, there is the Code of Conduct Tribunal."