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Those still calling for Bello’s arrest ill-informed, sponsored by opposition figures – CSOs

Those still calling for Bello’s arrest ill-informed, sponsored by opposition figures – CSOs—–Again, scores of Anti-Corruption Civil Society Organisations have kicked against what they described as the perceived use of the platform of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission by politicians to fight their political battles.

They said this during an emergency Press conference on Friday, in reaction to a joint press conference by “a civil society organisation and a group, which called itself Kogites United Against Corruption Coalition.”

The frontline CSOs, led by the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, wondered why a few Nigerians were not seeing the persecution in the current case against the former Governor of Kogi State, considering the anomaly in the undending calls for arrest, mainly by members of the opposition party in the state, in collaboration with alleged sponsored CSOs, when the matter was before the courts.

According to them, the line-up of lawyers, both at the Tribunal and as seen on the current charge sheet against the former Governor, throws up the name of the same lawyer standing for the opposition party at the Tribunal and for EFCC in the suit against the former Governor.

Addressing the press on Friday, Chairman, CACOL, Debo Adeniran, said, “One wonders how opposition politicians and the EFCC now collaborate on a case of corruption allegations as is so glaring in this matter. We are aware of all the clandestine meetings by opposition political parties with some activists with a view to sponsoring protests and Press Conferences against us. For as long as they do that, they’ll continue to spoil their own case in public view and justify the fact that this is beyond corruption investigation but direct persecution.”

They described those who addressed a press conference, calling for the arrest of the former Governor and attacking their activities as “ill-informed folks” allegedly being sponsored by opposition political parties who had seen the EFCC as a reliable ally in actualising their interests.

“Today’s Press Conference by those ill-informed folks, who we have reasonable suspicion are being sponsored by opposition political Parties who are fighting their own political wars on the matter and, even, the Commission against us, was filled with a poor comedy of judgment and an apparently orchestrated blackmail against our coalition. This is why this is so political rather than prosecutorial,” the activists said.

According to them, the EFCC would be doing itself a lot of good by ignoring characters asking the Commission to disobey lawful court orders and apply maximum force by bringing in the military “with a view to violently arresting a defendant we are repeatedly told by the Commission is being investigated for ‘white collar crimes.'”

Adeniran said, “Anyone who has even a little knowledge of our pedigrees in the fight against corruption should know that we have fought many battles against corruption and at the same time against all forms of injustice in this country, even at the risk of our lives and livelihoods. We do not pick and choose which injustice to fight against. We invest time, energy, resources and relationships into pursuing the cause of justice throughout this country for decades now.

“We are not emergency activists and we are beyond compromising even with all the billions in the world. We stand for the cause of humanity which is about justice, fairness and the highest ideals of a decent and free society.

“Therefore, any individual or a group of individuals who allege us of supporting corruption is either ignorant of the subject matter or doesn’t know us at all and, therefore, cannot make an informed judgment on us or our activities.”

The CSOs said their struggle was not only against corruption but also against injustice, adding that they would not be intimidated into silence in the EFCC/Yahaya Bello matter because there was a clear case of injustice and disrespect for the rule of law, which in itself was corruption.

Adeniran stated, “We are not politicians and we are not in the business of partaking of the loot by corrupt public officials, we fight them. Even as a sitting president, we came out vehemently against Olusegun Obasanjo because we believed he had a case to answer. Who paid us to do that?

When the current EFCC Chairman was nominated and there was brouhaha about his qualification for the job due to him not having a security training background, I was among the leading figures who stood by him and insisted that he was qualified enough for the office. Many groups were sponsored against his confirmation, some of whose leaders I personally called to convince them to drop their opposition and they did. How much did the EFCC chairman or anyone pay me for that?

“When he was eventually confirmed, we not only congratulated him but we also cautioned that he should avoid the pitfalls of his predecessors by doing everything according to law and must never act contrary to the orders, rulings and judgments of courts of competent jurisdiction because that would be a recipe for anarchy and his own downfall like the others. We were confident that as a lawyer, a senior one for that matter, he wouldn’t follow the route of disobedience to lawful court orders.

“Therefore, when we saw that the commission under him was tilting towards that direction, we decided to speak up as a reminder to the chairman that this wasn’t the way to go. Nobody should take this as a crime against us. We refuse to be intimidated into silence. We refuse to stop speaking out against injustice. We refuse to support lawlessness.”

The activists said an EFCC chairman should engage in less of media celebrity show and concentrate on the critical assignments of making the Commission work.

“An EFCC chairman should not be someone you see everyday in the media exposing critical information that should even be secret in order to assist in the effectiveness of their investigation. An EFCC chairman should be seen lesser but be heard by the competence and capacity he brings to bear on his office. That is why the Commission has a publicity department. Let them do the talking whilst you provide effective leadership,” they insisted.

“I don’t know Yahaya Bello, I’ve never met him, I don’t intend to meet him. But the same way that the June 12 actualization struggles were not about M.K.O Abiola as an individual is the same way that this intervention is not about Yahaya Bello as a person,” Adeniran noted.

“Already, many of Yahaya Bello’s supporters are alleging an assassination plot. The government would do well to avoid anything that could confirm these suspicions and the only way to avoid this is by playing by the rule of law to the letter,” he said.

Those who represented over 80 Anti-Corruption Civil Society Organisations on Friday were Comrade Sina Loremikan (Campaign Against Impunity); Comrade Olufemi Lawson (Centre for Public Accountability); Declan Ihekaire (Activists for Good Governance); Gbenga Soloki (CAIDOV); and Ganzallo Gbenga (Transparency Advocacy for Good Governance).
Others were Comrade Funmi Jolade (Community Women Forum); Princess Ada Nwandu (Ohaneze Youth); Alh. A. Abdullahi (Justice and Peace Centre); Comrade Adeshina Ishola (Transparency Agenda); Comrade Daniel Oyesola (Stop Impunity Coalition); Comrade Leke Adebanjo (Committee for Amnesty); and Kayode Sampson (Democracy and Justice Forum), among others.

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