Thursday, September 13, 2007

Apologize, my foot!

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EFCC Chairman Mallam Nuhu Ribadu

Apologize, my foot!

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday said it had not apologised to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mike Aondoakaa, or any other Nigerian over the ongoing trial of a former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Kalu.

The anti-graft commission made the clarification against the backdrop of a claim by the AGF that the EFCC had apologised to him.

The AGF had on September 6, 2007 demanded an apology from the Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, over the ‘rudeness’ of the commission’s counsel, Mr. Adebisi Adeniyi, to the nation’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr. Salihu Aliyu.

Adeniyi and the DPP had on September 5 openly disagreed in a Federal High Court in Abuja over attempts by the office of the AGF to take over the trial of Kalu from the EFCC.

Kalu is standing trial for a 107 – count charge of alleged mismanagement of N1bn.

But the EFCC, in a statement by its Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Osita Nwajah, said it would never ‘apologise’ for carrying out its duties.

The commission’s statement reads, “The attention of the commission has been drawn to news reports that it tendered an apology to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mike Aondoakaa, regarding the ongoing trial of former Abia State Governor, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, currently facing criminal charges of money laundering to the tune of about N1bn, property of Abia State Government.

“The commission deeply regrets that its statutory anti-corruption and anti-money laundering mandate is being dragged into a murky political terrain by those who apparently seek to provoke it into a challenge with executive power.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the commission will never put itself in a position to do battle with those whose mission is to aggravate and stampede it to actions that are inconsistent with its mandate.

“The commission never obtained a request, and could therefore not, indeed would never, apologise for prosecuting criminal charges, which are properly defined within its statutory responsibilities.

“Keen observers of developments affecting the commission will recall that this type of provocation is not new and will probably not end soon.

“To be sure, however, no formal records in the commission today suggest that an apology emerged from it to any person.

“The commission wishes to reiterate that its investigations and prosecutions of public officers are properly in sync with statutory demands to improve the integrity quotient in public service.

“And while this may not sit well with subjects under the commission’s scrutiny, they will be well served to appreciate that there are no personal scores involved.”

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