The fundamental basis upon which rest the onus of any anti corruption campaign remains keen adherence to the rule of law. Any campaign on anti-corruption
that fails the test of legality is in itself corrupt.
Much as the prominence given to anti-corruption issues in the current political leadership of our dear country is a welcome development, a situation where an agency saddled with investigation and trials now turn around to be given to falsehood and assuming the power of the court is perhaps the greatest insult of the current campaign.
The EFCC if not to be seen as an agent of victimization and blackmail as it is, needs to ensure fairness and transparency in the way the anti-corruption battle is fought in order not to give the impression of witch-hunting any particular set of people
This becomes very necessary following the very embarrassing scenario the agency got itself involved in yesterday in a matter that concerns the former deputy governor of Osun state and a former senator, Senator Iyiola Omisore.
How does a sane mind reconcile a claim by the EFCC that Iyiola Omisore has been declared wanted when in actual fact, a few hours before the release, the agency through her lawyer was in court with the said Omisore in a case that seeks to clarify his involvement in a purported fraud by a company named Firmex Gill in a dealing with the office of the National security Adviser (ONSA).
The EFCC should not be seen playing the role of political victimization of innocent individuals, coercion and blackmail.
Vilification is fast becoming the order of the day as this government is gradually taking constitutional guarantees to the wind.
We portend that if of a truth the EFCC and her leadership has anything or facts to nail omisore with, for a government that came into power through public support and in respect of the rule of law, the court should be the right place and not a result to unnecessary blackmail and media trial.
Nigerians have agreed that there is an intolerable level of corruption in the country and that something should be done about it, but it should not be done by unduly blackmailing and tarnishing the image of a group of people.
Government should not let people have a feeling that the war against corruption is about targeting certain people. That will defeat the war against corruption.
Our constitution, through the provisions of chapter four, avails all citizens the right to justice, equity and fairness. One basic element of all these is the notion of “innocent until proven guilty”. While this is timeless, we must also not be willing to allow this notion serve as a clog on the wheel of justice when dealing with those that are perceived to have found their way to our commonwealth through corruption, cronyism and nepotism.
The EFCC and by extension the government of Buhari may succeed in judging and sentencing Iyiola Omisore in the court of public opinion rather than in actual courts of justice, but we will invariably be endorsing a system where public faith in a fair anti-corruption war is eroded and results subjected to instances of authenticity questions. If we miss this opportunity to uphold convictions over perceptions, we will be doing a disservice to our nation and to posterity.
While we condemn in totality the new found way to shame of the EFCC which is cheap blackmail, we advise the government to reorganize the system of governance in the country in such a way that adherence to the rule of law takes the front burner putting in mind that no campaign against anti corruption without the adherence to the rule of law upon which governance is premised can be a success.
A Press Release by the Centre for Ethical Governance (CEG)
Dr. Adetokunbo Elias
Executive Director, CEG