The row between the Economic and a Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Sokoto State Government over the fate of five persons from the state, standing trial for alleged financial misdeeds continued, on Wednesday.
A senior official of the state alleged that the anti-graft body was deliberately engaging in falsehood and smear campaign to malign the integrity of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
The EFCC had, last week, tackled Governor Tambuwal for allegedly pardoning the defendants.
The body said the governor lacked the power to ‘pardon’ five persons standing trial for corrupt practices in offences allegedly committed during the regime of former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa who ruled between 1999 and 2007.
Those involved included two serving commissioners, Tukur Alkali and Isa Achida. Others were the Chairman of the Governing Board of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi; the member representing Isa constituency at the House of Assembly, Alhaji Habibu Modachi; and a Permanent Secretary, Isah Bello.
They were all arraigned in 2009, two years after the end of Bafarawa’s tenure, over an alleged N15 billion fraud. The former governor is also a defendant in the case.
According to a senior official in Sokoto State Ministry of Justice, who pleaded for anonymity, the EFCC was ‘economical with the truth’ on the matter.
The source, who claimed that she was not authorised to speak to the press on the issue, contended that the foundation of the case was more or less politically-motivated, and that Governor Tambuwal only interfered in it to right a wrongs committed by the Wamakko regime.
She stressed, “The EFCC will do itself a lot of good if it weans itself of politically-motivated cases in order to boost its reputation and enhance the credibility of the fight against corruption in the country.
“This case was filed in the first instance because Wamakko fought tooth and nail to ensure that leading lights of the Bafarawa regime were prosecuted at all cost.
“A commission of enquiry, under the leadership of Aminu Ahmad was set up which indicted the said persons. Many issues were raised about the procedure adopted by the commission. Upon their indictment, the EFCC filed charges in court against the persons based on the commission’s report and the white paper issued by the government.
“But two years ago, after waiting for eight years to quash the adoption of the commission’s report through legal means failed due to delays in court, the persons wrote to the new administration calling for a review of their indictment. The state government, based on strong case they had, reviewed the work of the commission of inquiry and discovered some errors in arriving at its final decision. The government then reached a conclusion that the report was not fair to some of the persons and eventually quashed the indictment in the spirit of justice and fairness.”
She continued “Quashing of the indictment has nothing to do with the EFCC’s case in court. It was the natural thing to do since those indicting have a strong case of not given a fair hearing in the first instance.
“Seeing that the foundation upon which the EFCC based its case against them was faulty and was eventually quashed by the government, the defendants approached the court with the new document issued by the government, and Justice Abass Bello discharged them and advised EFCC to base its case on other things if it hopes to continue with the prosecution of same people on same matter.
“How EFCC went public with different thing to what transpired in court surprised everyone involved in the case. However, now that an appeal has been filed, we will pursue the matter to logical conclusion,” the source added.