Posted by By Tony Edike, Vanguard on
GOVERNOR Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State has reacted to the invitation extended to some officials of his government by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday, saying he is prepared to waive his own constitutional immunity as governor to face prosecution if any case of corrupt practice is raised against him.
ENUGU—GOVERNOR Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State has reacted to the invitation extended to some officials of his government by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday, saying he is prepared to waive his own constitutional immunity as governor to face prosecution if any case of corrupt practice is raised against him.
Nnamani, who was approached by some reporters in Enugu, Monday night, to get his reaction to a media report that top officials of his administration were arrested last Friday by EFCC to answer allegations raised in a petition by suspended Chairman of Udi Local Government Area, Mr. Oscar Egwuonwu, said the officials were not arrested but only reported themselves to the commission following an invitation from the commission.
He said upon receiving the information last Friday that EFCC officials were in Enugu making inquiries about the affected officials including his Special Adviser on Local Government Matters, Chief Sam Ejiofor, he directed them to report to the commission’s office in Lagos on Monday, which they did.
“There was certainly no arrest because even one of the individuals mentioned, Prince Sam Ejiofor, my local government Adviser, as you know, held a baptism ceremony for his son on Sunday and all of us were there. So, government actually directed the affected officials to report to the EFCC office today (Monday) and they are in Lagos at EFCC office now. I believe they are undergoing interrogation in connection with the petition generated through Mr. Oscar Egwuonwu, the suspended chairman of Udi Local Government Council whom I believe is presently on bail and possibly undergoing prosecution for attempted murder,” he said.
The governor said he was prepared to give up his immunity to face probe or prosecution for any offence that might be proved against him, adding that he would take full responsibility for the actions of the government of Enugu State.
“As head of government, I take full responsibility for the actions of the government of Enugu State because the buck stops on my table. I, for one, will not hesitate to respond to questions raised by EFCC, I will be willing to waive the constitutional immunity and go through interrogation and prosecution if need be just to reaffirm my belief in the process. So I am available to be investigated either here or even in Lagos. I have no problem with it.
“I believe that one has to participate in the process as an affirmation of confidence in the system. So, I will be willing to answer questions, interrogation and even prosecution because I believe in the system and I believe that we need to show example if not for any other thing but for Nigeria,” he said.
Nnamani stressed that there was nothing irregular or strange about the EFCC’s probe of officials of his government, saying that the commission had already proved its seriousness in the war against corruption by exposing and prosecuting some highly placed government officials like a former Senate President, a former governor and a former Inspector-General of Police.
He commended the commission for its achievements so far in the crusade, stressing that its presence and activities had effectively reduced the tendency of public officials to embezzle or misappropriate public funds.
“I believe that an organisation that has been able to have far-reaching impact in terms of anti-corruption crusade on the head of the National Assembly which is a major arm of government, on the head of the national police and many other people is an effective organisation. The EFCC can lay claim to success and we can relate to that. You certainly cannot diminish the EFCC or take away anything from what they have achieved so far. We in government are fully aware of the EFCC, where i’s were not dotted and t’s were not crossed, i’s are now being dotted and t’s are being crossed. Where otherwise envelopes would have been distributed, they are no longer being distributed. So I believe the EFCC if they have not done anything, have created public enlightenment and awareness. They have also built capacity. We cannot ignore the fact that there is a Ribadu in Nigeria, and it is positive, it is also good,” he said.
The governor said Enugu State had undergone several processes of assessment and examination by independent partners, foreign agencies and the mass media and had always come out in flying colours, adding that the current EFCC action was “another assessment and we are certainly willing and able, and very interested in cooperating with them.”
Giving a background to the petition before the EFCC, Nnamani said it was originated by the suspended local government chairman, who, according to him, was having problems with his councillors who had all ran away from the council, accusing the chairman of threatening their lives.
He said the government had suspended him and was considering his recall when he (Egwuonwu) forcefully retook his office and allegedly abducted and almost killed the acting Chairman whom he had put in a boot of a car and was taking him away when he was intercepted by the police.
The governor, however, expressed confidence that the EFCC probe would vindicate him and confirm the transparency of his government as had been attested to by independent assessors.
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