Elections are around the corner and the usual antics are back. This time, the state in the eye of the storm is Oyo State. But, the attack dog has remained the same – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). What the EFCC is doing in Oyo State is another case of “them regular trademark” which the late Abami Eda sang about. They are using the same tactics they have always used, give the dog a bad name and hang it.
What are the issues?
The truth is that the EFCC has not brought any charges against the Oyo State Government. They have harassed, intimidated and hounded the Accountant General of the State and some other officials in the Accountant General’s Office to give them information that they know they have no right to be requesting from the State Government. They are asking for information about spending on the Consolidated Revenue Fund, Contingencies Fund and Security Vote.
Is it not strange that there have been no statements from the EFCC on this matter? Instead, allegations were planted by a well-known propaganda news outlet. A so-called missing N9 billion of local government funds in a non-existent private account. But the opposition is running with the allegation as if this news outlet is now a mouthpiece of the EFCC.
Come to think of it. For money to go missing, it must first be proved to have existed and someone should be making that claim. Who is the claimant in this matter?
Also, the opposition is asking the State Government to respond to the “allegation” of missing N9 billion. The question is: allegation by whom? If the EFCC has a case, why have they not gone to court? Why have they not come out to say what the Accountant General is being charged with?
The truth is that the EFCC cannot come out with any claims against the State Government because they simply do not have any. And if they do, they will have to show how they got it. The law clearly states that the EFCC has to be invited into a case by an interested party. In this case, the interested party is the Oyo State House of Assembly.
The EFCC knows that it is acting ultra vires and so it cannot speak.
There have been several complaints about the EFCC being used as a witch-hunting tool against opposition states by the authorities. And this is why in a landmark decision in the case between Dr Joseph Nwobike (SAN) Vs. Federal Republic of Nigeria, Appeal No. SC/CR/161/2020 (Judgement delivered in December 2021), the Supreme Court held that the EFCC’s powers to investigate and prosecute financial crimes under Section 46 of the EFCC Act 2004 were not at large. According to the ruling, the EFCC could not hide under the EFCC Act 2004 to usurp the functions of other law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies in Nigeria.
Specifically, it is not the EFCC’s job to probe the State Government’s spending of Consolidated Revenue Fund, Contingencies Fund and Security Vote. The doctrine of separation of powers exists for this, among other reasons. Furthermore, the EFCC cannot usurp the powers of other agencies in its “zeal” to fight corruption. They definitely have no powers to even investigate such a case.
The law is clear and this is why the Oyo State Government is being persecuted on two fronts.
The EFCC makes a desperate attempt to create the illusion that they actually have a case against the Oyo State Government by requesting documents regarding the Consolidated Revenue Fund, Contingencies Fund and Security Vote which they have no right to, while the press is recruited to spread a spurious trumped-up charge about missing LG funds. When these two “stories” come together, it creates a perception that the Oyo State Government has in some way something to hide. This is far from the truth.
The Oyo State Government has so far run one of the most transparent and honest accountability systems in Nigeria. Tell me that State Government in Nigeria that runs an effective Feedback System, where citizens can come and enquire about anything on and off social media and they get a response.
People of Oyo State, do not be deceived. This is just another distraction. They tell you the Governor steals like any other, then they tell you PDP and APC are the same, then they tell you that he steals but does not share, but they steal and share. Do not listen to them.
If the EFCC has a case against the Oyo State Government, let them come out and say what the case is. We will not fall for this same trick again.