Governors, others panic over PDP, EFCC meeting

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Akin Oyedele

Some governors, ex-ministers and other members of the Peoples Democratic Party standing trial for corruption have started making frantic efforts to stave off the plan by the party to exclude them from the 2011 general elections.

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri, and the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo, met on Monday to discuss the modality for the screening of the party’s aspirants.

An EFCC source told our correspondent on Wednesday that the affected politicians had become restless since the party’s resolve to work with the anti-graft agency to stop the so-called corrupt members from participating in the elections became public knowledge.

THE PUNCH gathered on Wednesday that some past and serving political office holders being investigated by the EFCC have been jostling to seek clarifications from top EFCC officials since the matter became public.

Some of them were said to be seeking “privileged information” on the discussions between Nwodo and Waziri as it affected them.

The PDP chairman had on Sunday advocated life ban for politicians found to have corruptly enriched themselves during their tenure in office.

It was gathered that some of the affected PDP aspirants were considering alternatives such as defecting to other political parties to contest the election if their party carried out the threat to exclude them.

The EFCC official, who said that he had also been inundated with calls by politicians described the the calls as “panicky.”

The official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the matter, said, “I have been receiving calls since morning from governors, ex-governors, ministers and others seeking information over the correctness of the reports in some of the newspapers.

“The pressure is now on them, because I’m surprised at the manner those we are investigating have been making panicky telephone calls to us.”

He, however, explained that “the only clarification we have to make is that it was the PDP that initiated Monday’s meeting and not the other way round.”

The official said that he hoped that other political parties would, like the PDP, “take similar initiative without our prompting.”

He added that what the PDP had done was not out of place because whenever the Federal Government “wants to appoint anyone into a position, they normally seek security reports about such person.”

“Apart from security agencies, the FG used to seek such intelligence report from the EFCC about the records of such candidates. It is the same move that the PDP has made,” he argued.

The official added, “We are expecting other big political parties to approach us for similar assistance. We have not released any information yet on the politicians because the PDP is yet to forward their list to us.”

According him, the commission will only release information on each aspirant based on the list forwarded to it by the PDP for what he called “profiling.”

He said that the anti-graft agency would hold other strategies close to its chest until the list of aspirants had been forwarded voluntarily by the parties.

Asked to clarify the next step by the commission after Monday’s meeting, the EFCC Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Babafemi, said that the commission was waiting for a list from the PDP.

He said, “We have made it clear that we will not go outside the laws to stop any politician from contesting election. But, we will continue to collaborate with the stakeholders to achieve the objective.”

Another source in the Code of Conduct Bureau told our correspondent that the bureau was taking fresh initiative to fast-track the prosecution of politicians found to have breached the laws on assets declaration.

The CCB had earlier vowed to work with the EFCC to ensure that politicians with tainted records were stopped from the 2011 elections.

In the past, the CCB used to forward list of defaulters directly to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for prosecution.

But a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice was said to have directed that such lists should first be sent to his office for onward transmission to the CCT for prosecution.

The source said, “In the process, we have discovered that not all those forwarded to the AGF were sent to CCT for prosecution. Sometimes, they alter the list by removing some names.

“We are no longer comfortable with such step, because it had allowed some of these unscrupulous politicians to escape justice. But, that has to change if we have to stem the tide of corruption among public officer holders.

“The chairman has been brainstorming with other top officials of the CCB on the way forward. This informed the meeting he held today with the federal commissioners (board members).”

When contacted, the Head, Press/Public Relations Unit of the CCB, Mrs. Idowu Jokpeyibo, said she would not confirm or deny the steps being taken by the bureau ahead of the next general election.

She said, “I think you were at the meeting with the EFCC where the chairman said that the CCB would work with stakeholders to stop corrupt politicians from 2011 elections. It is public knowledge.

“What I know is that the chairman will soon hold a roundtable discussion with journalists where the agenda will be unfolded, that much I can tell you.”


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