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EFCC’s ‘authentic list’

Posted by By CHRISTIAN ITA & ISMAIL OMIPIDAN (Abuja) on 2007/03/05 | Views: 998 |

EFCC’s ‘authentic list’


With the expected resumption Tuesday of debate in the Senate on the report of the ad-hoc committee that probed alleged doctoring of the corruption directory list by the presidency, panic has gripped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Panic grips PDP over Senate moves

With the expected resumption Tuesday of debate in the Senate on the report of the ad-hoc committee that probed alleged doctoring of the corruption directory list by the presidency, panic has gripped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

This follows the declaration by the Chairman of the Senate ad hoc committee, Senator Lawali Shuaibu, that President Olusegun Obasanjo actually doctored the original list forwarded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Thursday, the committee had sensationally revealed that, contrary to the 121 names made public last month, the EFCC list originally contained 135 names.

Though Shuaibu would not be drawn into revealing the identities of those "edited out" yet, another committee member disclosed to Sunday Sun that among the 14 names allegedly dropped are a serving South-South governor, a second term seeking South-West governor, a serving South-East governor aspiring to the Senate and a governorship candidate in the South-South.
Interestingly, they have all been handed the party’s symbolic flags by the national chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali.
Speaking in an interview with Sunday Sun in Abuja, Shuaibu disclosed that the President hid under the provision of section 137 of the constitution to perpetrate the act when the list was forwarded to him by the EFCC chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

The Zamfara State-born Senator was, however, quick to add that the President still has an opportunity to redeem his image by releasing those names since the list of those so far substituted by political parties would still undergo verification.
The PDP, which has been privy to the contents of the committee’s report, fears that such an expose by the Senate, would not only call to question the integrity of President Obasanjo but may also lead to the disqualification of the affected candidates whose names had already been filed with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Shuaibu revealed that "What we did at the committee level, regarding the moral question was to ask the Senate to raise such questions with Mr. President and probably if need be, persuade him to look at issues from the objective point of view not from political point of view. And by so doing, he will be giving some considerable amount of protection to EFCC."

He decried the action of the President, saying by removing the names of certain politicians from the list, Obasanjo was "not to be in consonance with fair play, in consonance with equity, in consonance with good conscience. And that’s the only thing we thought the Senate should do by persuading the President, especially now that INEC has gone through series of substitution by political parties’ candidates. Now, they are still going to send another list to EFCC, to the SSS and to the police for similar exercise.

We thought the President still has opportunity to save this country, to save the image of EFCC, to save the credibility the EFCC he has been able to build so far and do what Nigerians expect him to do, not to cover up criminals in public offices and give them another opportunity to occupy yet another public office. If (Obasanjo) does that (expose the looters) he will carve himself a place in the annals of history of this country."

A presidency source re-echoed this position, saying that although the Senate does not have the power to upturn the President on the matter, it however, could embarrass him, the PDP and even compel the disqualification of the affected candidates.
Earlier on Thursday, Shuaibu, while presenting the committees report, said Ribadu defended his submission of the original list to the Presidency by maintaining that it was in compliance with the 1999 Constitution and the EFCC Act.

"Ribadu," he disclosed, "also emphasised that the final decision to accept or reject the report based on investigation carried out by his commission is the responsibility of the government. The executive responsibility is vested in the President by virtue of Section 5 (1) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria."

Section 5 (1) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution provides that "Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the executive powers of the Federation- (a) shall be vested in the President and may, subject as aforesaid and to the provisions of any law made by the National Assembly, be exercised by him either directly of through the Vice President and Ministers of the Government of the Federation or officers in the public service of the Federation; and
(b) shall extend to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, all laws made by the National Assembly and to all matters with respect to which the National Assembly has, for the time being, power to make laws."

PDP reacts
But speaking with Sunday Sun via phone, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. John Odey, defended that the party acted based on the list sent to it by EFCC to short its candidates for the forthcoming general elections.
Odey said "If EFCC sends a fresh list to us, we will act accordingly. We are for due process. We believe in giving anyone so indicted fair hearing. In that case, we will direct them to face the relevant panel. This is why we encouraged those indicted in the list earlier sent to us to go an clear their names. The party position is very clear. The PDP believes its candidates must be men and women of impeccable character."

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