Chris Steven, Abuja
A group under the aegis of Ethnic Nationality Forum Stand for Equity and Governance, has called on the National Assembly under the leadership of Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Honourable Yakubu Dogara, to caution and probe the excesses of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over it called harassment, intimidation and slandering of the image of the former President Goodluck Jonathan family, especially his wife, Dame Patience Jonathan in the media.
While expressing support for the war against corruption in the country, the group reiterated that the National Assembly must call the EFCC to order to ensure that the rule of law is followed in accordance with President Muhammadu Buhari’s independent day pledge.
The group, comprising Ijaw Youth Council, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council, Ndokwa Youth Movement, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yoruba Youth Council and Middle Belt Youth Council, in a statement commended the 8th National Assembly for being Independent contrary to practice in the past where National Assembly was just a puppet in the hands of the Executive arm of government.
“Contrary to the previous expectations, you have been a fiercely independent parliament that has served as an effective check to the Executive. Your people-oriented positions such as your stance on the proposed $29billion loan and the ill-advised plan by the Nigerian Communication Commissioned (NCC) to increase the price of data are just two classic examples.”
We totally support the ongoing anti-corruption crusade; we are nonetheless calling on you to prevail on the Federal Government to be true to President Buhari’s Independence Day pledge that “in fighting corruption, however, the government would adhere strictly by the rule of law.” This can only be achieved by calling the EFCC to order.
“We unequivocally condemn the freezing of the accounts of former First Lady, Patience Jonathan and other innocent people related to her, such as kids and other family members, who are not even under investigation. This is a direct violation of one of the three cardinal tenets of the Rule of Law which is the promotion of human right and protection from arbitrariness. For each citizen, even though accused of crimes ought to be presumed innocent until a court of competent jurisdiction proves otherwise beyond reasonable doubt”. It said
It also urged the National Assembly and the Presidency to order the unfreezing of the bank accounts of Patience Jonathan as well as those of her family and friends.
“This is because even those accused of dangerous crimes are entitled to the best defense they could muster. Thus the EFCC’s freezing of the accounts of the Jonathans and their friends, families and aides is tantamount to depriving her the means to defend herself, just as the freezing of the accounts of those other innocent people Rob them of funds to meet their financial obligations in the very challenging economic climate the country is facing now.
“We call on the National Assembly to caution the EFCC to desist from carrying out Media trial of cases that are already in court. This is because it robs the government of the much needed goodwill and credibility it needs to succeed in the war against corruption. A legal system that tries innocent family members and friends for the alleged offences of their relatives and friends would surely suffer a credibility crisis. A simple Cost-Benefit Analysis of the EFCC’s current approach would reveal that it is harming this government’s strategic interest far more than the brief publicity it gets from its current modus operandi.
“We are urging you, our esteemed Representatives to caution and rein in the EFCC to operate within the confines of their enabling laws, lest they become victims of the corrupting influence of Absolute power. Also, there is a need to ensure that the current Administration’s anti-corruption crusade is not viewed as a vendetta against perceived foes due to the actions of the EFCC which may not reflect your genuine thoughts and intentions for enacting the law that established it.”It added