Monday, May 29, 2023

Extend investigation to presidency too, not just governors – Matawalle Tells EFCC

Bello Matawalle, governor of Zamfara, says Abdulrasheed Bawa, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), should ensure that the agency’s investigation does not target only the outgoing governors but also officials in the presidency.

In a report by Daily Trust, Bawa said the commission has plans to go after some outgoing governors and other public officials after May 29.

However, he did not give names or the number of public officials that would be brought under the law.

Reacting to the report in a statement on Wednesday, Matawalle, who lost his reelection bid to Dauda Lawal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said the planned investigation by the EFCC “must be holistic and not selective”.

The governor added that while “it is important for political office holders to account for their actions in office,” the anti-graft agency must use such mandate “judiciously”.

“My attention has been drawn to a statement credited to the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Malam Abdulrasheed Bawa, in which he claimed he has sent invitations to all outgoing governors and commissioners in a bid to commence investigation into alleged corruption and abuse of office perpetrated by them while in office,” the statement reads.

“While this is appropriate and commendable because it’s important for political office holders to account for their actions in office and EFCC is imbued with the power of investigation, however, this power must be exercised judiciously.

“The investigation must be holistic and not selective. This is counterproductive to the anti-corruption crusade itself, that is if Malam Bawa is actually committed to one.

“In a bid to help the obvious knowledge gap exhibited by the EFCC Chair, the probe should be all-embracing and cover all officers.

“I demand that the EFCC chair extend similar invitations to officers of the Presidency and members of the Federal Executive Council, which is the highest tier of government in the country.”

In 2022, EFCC investigated Matawalle over money laundering allegations.

The commission claimed that its decision to investigate the governor emanated from intelligence it got, which indicated that he was allegedly “using state funds to acquire several properties worth billions of naira in Abuja”.

The EFCC spoke in a counter-affidavit it filed in a fundamental rights enforcement suit instituted by a firm, Fezel Nigeria Limited.

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