The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday refuted media reports that it has decorated Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu as its “anti-corruption ambassador”.
Spokesman for the commission, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, explained in a statement in Abuja that the statutory mandate of EFCC was to investigate and prosecute all economic and financial crimes cases and not to decorate any individual as anti-corruption ambassador.
“The award and title are unknown to EFCC and could not have been invested as purported, on behalf of the Acting Chairman, Management and staff of the EFCC.
“The commission is not in the habit of awarding titles to individuals.
“Those who seek titles for reasons of waging a counter-onslaught against the war on corruption in addition to massaging inflated sense of influence, know the quarters to approach, not the EFCC,” the statement said.
According to the statement, the purported report of Ekweremadu’s decoration by the commission was published in the print and online media of April 20.
It said that the report was attributed to a statement issued by Mr Uche Anichukwu, the Special Adviser to the Deputy Senate President.
The statement further said that the purported decoration, was carried out by the EFCC National Assembly Liaison Officer, Mr Suleiman Bakari, who was quoted to have said the decoration was done on behalf of the acting chairman of the commission.
“The EFCC totally dissociates itself from the purported action of Bakari as he acted entirely on his own and clearly outside his liaison officer brief.
“He was never instructed by the Acting Chairman nor mandated by the management and staff of the commission to decorate Ekweremadu or any officer of the National Assembly as Anti-corruption Ambassador.
“The commission views this highly unprofessional conduct of the officer as yet another manifestation of corruption fighting back,” the statement added.
It, therefore, advised members of the public to disregard the so-called decoration, adding that stern administrative action was being taken on the “clearly misdirected officer who acted without authorisation”.
But in a swift reaction, Ekweremadu expressed concern over the denial by EFCC.
This is contained in a statement signed by the Special Adviser (Media) to Ekweremadu, Mr Uche Anichukwu, in Abuja on Wednesday.
The statement noted that Ekweremadu’s attention was drawn to a statement allegedly issued by EFCC Spokesperson, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, denying that the agency decorated him as an ambassador.
It stated that EFCC Liaison Officer to the National Assembly, Mr Suleiman Bakari, and his team, paid a courtesy call on Ekweremadu in his office on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.
It further stated that Bakari, among other issues, solicited the support of the Senate and National Assembly towards the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration.
The statement also said that Ekweremadu was presented with frame carrying a bold picture of President Muhammadu Buhari, bearing the inscription: “If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”.
“Mr Bakari also, on behalf of the Acting Chairman, management, and staff of the EFCC, decorated Senator Ekweremadu as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador of the EFCC.
“His words: `It is, therefore my honour, Your Excellency, to on behalf of my Acting Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, and the entire management and staff of the EFCC decorate you as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador.
“And, formally present this frame, as a token of our appreciation to your person and office, and as a symbol of institutional partnership between the EFCC and the National Assembly.
“It is also a fact that the visit and decoration was captured in both pictures and video.’’
On the purported claim by the EFCC spokesperson that the agency could not have decorated anybody as Anti-Corruption Ambassador, the statement recalled that the commission had given awards to person in the past.
It said that on Dec. 7, 2007, the then Nuhu Ribadu-led EFCC conferred the “Role Model Award in the Fight against Corruption, on certain persons, including a former president of the senate and a taxi driver.
According to the statement, Bakari couldn’t have acted on his own given the command structure of the commission.
“We also wonder whether Mr Bakari could have read from a prepared text without recourse to the commission, which he represents, especially as the visit and decoration was never solicited for in the first place.
“We leave the rest to discerning members of the public to read in-between the lines and make their own judgments,‘’ it stated.
The statement reaffirmed Ekweremadu’s commitment to pushing for legal and institutional reforms such as special anti-graft courts, security of tenure and financial autonomy for the EFCC and related agencies.
It stated that only such reforms would fast-track justice and insulate the anti-corruption agencies from external interference and self-reversals.