The Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, yesterday queried the purported withdrawal of an award of Anti-Corruption Ambassador given to him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday, twenty-four hours after he was so decorated by the agency in his office at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
During a formal courtesy visit to the Office of the Deputy Senate President, the EFCC on Tuesday had solicited the support of the Senate and the National Assembly on the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration.
The agency presented a frame with a bold picture of President Muhammadu Buhari, bearing the inscription: “If We Don’t Kill Corruption, Corruption Will Kill Nigeria,” to Senator Ekweremadu before conferring on him the Anti-Corruption Ambassador Award.
The visit and investiture was carried out by Mr. Suleiman Bakari, the EFCC Liaison Officer to the National Assembly and his team.
In Mr. Bakari’s words during the award presentation he said: “It is, therefore my honour, Your Excellency, to on behalf of my Acting Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa 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”.
In a press statement issued by Uche Anichukwu, Special Adviser (Media) to the Deputy Senate President, reacting to the withdrawal, he said: “We want to put it on record that the EFCC Liaison Officer to the National Assembly, Mr. Suleiman Bakari, and his team, applied for and subsequently paid a courtesy call on the Deputy President of the Senate in his Office on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.
“Mr. Bakari, amongst other issues he raised, solicited the support of the Senate and National Assembly towards the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration, and even presented a frame with 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.”
But in a major summersault, the EFCC, yesterday, rejected Ekweremadu as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador and disowned Bakari, the agency’s National Assembly officer who conducted the investiture.
In a statement it issued yesterday, signed by Wilson Uwujaren, Head, Media & Publicity, the Commission said the award on Sen. Ekweremadu, was of no consequence as the officer acted on his own.
The statement read in part: “The EFCC totally dissociates itself from the purported action of Sulaiman Bakari as he acted entirely on his own. He clearly acted outside his brief as a liaison officer, as the management of the Commission at no time mandated him to decorate Sen. Ekweremadu or any officer of the National Assembly as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador.
“The statutory mandate of the EFCC is the investigation and prosecution of all economic and financial crimes cases, which does not include the decoration of individuals as anti-corruption ambassadors.
“The Commission is not in the habit of awarding titles to individuals. And those enamoured of titles, know the quarters to approach for such honours, not the EFCC.”
The agency further threatened to take a “stern administrative action” against Bakari, for bestowing the award.
In another counter-response, the Office of the Deputy Senate President stated that: “Ambassador or no Ambassador, the Deputy President of the Senate will not back down from his legislative efforts and advocacy as captured in his several public statements and lectures over the years, pushing for legal and institutional reforms such as Special Anti-Graft Courts; security of tenure and financial autonomy for the EFCC and related agencies.
“Only such reforms would fast-track justice and insulate the anti-corruption agencies from external interferences and self-reversals.”
The DSP’s office further faulted the purported claim by the EFCC spokesperson that the agency has never and could not have decorated anybody as an Anti-Corruption Ambassador, since, according to him, “the Commission is not in the habit of awarding titles to individuals.”
“We wish to refer him to December 7, 2007, when the Nuhu Ribadu-led EFCC conferred the Role Model Award in the Fight Against Corruption, on certain persons, including a former President of the Senate, a taxi driver, and a former Justice of the Federal High Court, at the Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja,” it stated. (The Authority)