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Anti-graft war: US rejects request to bar govs

Posted by By JAMIE DOMINICS, The Sun Reporter, Washington DC on 2006/10/24 | Views: 518 |

Anti-graft war: US rejects request to bar govs


The United States government has rejected the request of its Nigerian counterpart to bar some elected Nigerian officials and others from entering the country by December.

The United States government has rejected the request of its Nigerian counterpart to bar some elected Nigerian officials and others from entering the country by December.

The request was at the behest of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which argued that several officials plan to use the opportunity of the Christmas holiday to escape mass arrest after their immunity expires at the end of their term in May 2007.

The response, which Abuja considers a setback, comes after months of pressure by Nigeria, which considers America a probable haven for the affected officials because of the country's laws and policies.
"Christmas is the only big opportunity before the hand over of power after the elections for some of those under watch to move out of the country and we want to prevent that from happening," a top EFCC official hinted.

Daily Sun, however, gathered that the American State Department rejected the request because of what officials described as conclusions made by the supporting document which were not backed by hard facts.
Also, in rejecting the request, Washington said the issues raised by Nigeria touched on the principles of the rights of individual privacy.

"While we acknowledge the efforts of the Nigerian government to battle graft, we cannot infringe on the rights of people to enter the U.S if they have proper travel documents. We can only detain and question officials if strong evidence is presented and for now, no such document exists," a State Department official said.

Sources said the EFCC and the government had, however, gone back to the drawing board and were dusting up the assets declaration forms of the affected officials and details of EFCC investigations to convince Washington to rescind its decision.

U.S officials stated that it was more than a coincidence that most of those being investigated or whose travel papers are being asked to be cancelled are those who opposed plans to amend the constitution to give President Olusegun Obasanjo four more years in office.

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