N11 Billion Fraud: APC Ignored EFCC’s Advice on AuduFeatured, Latest News, News Sunday, November 1st, 2015
Fresh facts have emerged as to how the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC ) , Ibrahim Lamorde, advised that Abubakar Audu be disqualified from the governorship race in kogi on the strength of his graft charges.
The APC appeal panel, chaired by Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, with Mr. Ahmad El-Marzuq and Mr. Tunde Imolehin serving as secretary and member respectively, in an 11-page report called for the nullification of the emergence of Audu as the candidate of the APC in the upcoming gubernatorial election in the state and name the petitioner, Yahaya Bello, the aspirant who scored the second highest votes and who is constitutionally eligible, his replacement.
Yahaya Bello in his petition also raised the allegations of embezzlement of N11 billion and the court case involving the former governor instituted by the EFCC. Giving President Buhari’s staunch anti-corruption stance and APC change mantra of the APC, it is left to be seen if such a seminal report can be swept under the carpet.”
The EFCC had argued on the ground that Audu is facing corruption charges which negates the APC’S anti corruption stance.
Lamorde had written to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, seeking the disqualification of Audu, from contesting the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
But Audu has insisted he is innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.
He said in a recent interview that the matter was before the court, and that no case had so far been established against him.
“This is a matter that is already before the court, and it will therefore be a contempt of court for me to disclose what happened in the court.
In a letter dated September 21, 2015, with reference number EFCC/EC/SGF/03/59, and titled “F.R.N Vs Abubakar Audu & 1 other Charge No: FCT/CR/115/ 2013”, the EFCC chairman wrote to the secretary to the government of the federation reminding him that Mr. Audu was standing trial for corruption.
“The candidate was arraigned by the Commission for abuse of office, theft of public funds and money laundering during his tenure as Executive Governor of Kogi State between 1999 and 2003 at both Kogi High Court, Lokoja in 2006 and the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Apo Abuja in 2013,” Mr. Lamorde wrote.
“The Lokoja case was stalled for six years on the account of frivolous interlocutory applications by the accused person, which has taken us twice to the Supreme Court and eventually decided in the commission’s favour on 23rd November 2012.
“The trial effectively continued in 2013 with the filing of fresh charges in Abuja. Eight prosecution witnesses have so far given evidence and 166 exhibits tendered at the proceedings, while the case adjourned till 14th October 2015 for continuation of trial.
“We are genuinely concerned that the trial will be suspended for another four years if Prince Audu emerges as Kogi State Governor, similar to the situation of Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State.
“While not being unmindful of the constitutional presumption of innocence of all accused persons until proven guilty, we are nevertheless greatly concerned that swearing in of another accused person as Executive Governor in Nigeria may not be in consonance with the current anti-corruption policy of the new administration.”
In conclusion, Mr. Lamorde cautioned that allowing Mr. Audu to contest on the ruling party’s ticket might undermine the administration’s fight against corruption, especially in the eyes of the world.
“This may negatively impact our perception by the international community and give rise to scepticism and even cynicism,” the EFCC boss wrote.
Mr. Lamorde’s letter appeared a re-enactment of former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu’s advisory letter to political parties in 2007, seeking the disqualification of some political office seekers for their involvement in corruption.
But upon receipt of Mr. Lamorde’s advisory letter, the SGF, Babachir Lawan, immediately wrote to the national secretariat of the APC the following day, urging it to take “necessary action”.
In a letter dated September 22, 2015, referenced SGF.30/S.11/T, the SGF said “I wish to forward the attached document from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on the above subject matter for your information and action”.
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