Posted by By Rotimi Ajayi & Emmanuel Aziken on
THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said, yesterday, that it had not cleared any politician, state governors inclusive, for the 2007 elections, and warned that anyone already jubilating that he had a clean bill of health already was doing so at his own risk.
*Says no clean bill of health for any politician
*Presidency, Atiku trade words on Senate probe
ABUJA — THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said, yesterday, that it had not cleared any politician, state governors inclusive, for the 2007 elections, and warned that anyone already jubilating that he had a clean bill of health already was doing so at his own risk.
And as the Senate gets set to commence its probe of the handling of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), the Presidency yesterday accused Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s political camp of plot to defame President Olusegun Obasanjo and discredit members of the Senate panel saddled with that responsibility.
But the VP denied the allegation and expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of appearing before the panel, describing it as the greatest opportunity of clearing his name.
The EFCC, expressing concern at “the attempt by certain politicians to drag it into the political fray,” said: “Arising from the recent presentation of a report on the investigation activities of the commission to the Senate by the Executive Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, politicians of all persuasions have latched on to the Senate presentation, using it as it suits them, for their own selfish ends.
“It is of concern to EFCC that in so doing, these politicians are misrepresenting the presentation of the commission, by either claiming their opponents have been adjudged guilty or that they have themselves been ‘cleared’ by the commission.
“Let it be known that the EFCC is not and will not be a party to the power calculus of political gladiators. The commission, therefore, takes exception to recent media blitz insinuating that it has issued clean bills of health to some politicians while indicting others.
“The commission has indeed received hundreds of petitions against several public officers. The claims in such petitions have been subject of intense, diligent inquiry. While in some, investigations have been concluded and processes have been initiated to bring the indicted public officers to justice. In many other cases, investigations are still very much on and the Nigerian people would be kept abreast of progress in that direction.
“However, and for the avoidance of doubt, EFCC has not issued any ‘clearance’ for whatever purpose, to any politician. Anyone advertising himself or herself as having been cleared by the commission as a leverage for political ascendancy does so at his/her own risk.
“In the same vein, anyone found to have abused the trust of Nigerians would be brought to justice, no matter who he/she is or how long it takes. The citizenry are hereby warned to be wary of the bogus ‘clearance’ claims, which seem to have resonance with time-worn methods of confidence tricksters.
“Recently, the commission had cause to warn about the activities of advance fee fraudsters who have been offering purported EFCC clearance certificates to unscrupulous politicians. In this case, however, politicians are the ones investing non-existent clearance certificates on themselves. It is time to break the 419 chain.”
Presidency accuses Atiku
The Federal Government yesterday accused Vice President Atiku’s political camp of planning to defame President Obasanjo and discredit the members of the Senate panel investigating the PTDF scandal. The VP denied the allegation. The Office of the Political Adviser to the President, Mr Akin Osuntokun said: “The Federal Government has uncovered plans by the Atiku Abubakar group to disparage the entire members of the National Assembly who are currently investigating the VP’s indictment by the FBI and the Federal Government’s investigation panel.
“In its desperate bid to pervert the cause of justice, the group, acting in tandem with some other hired amorphous groups, has perfected plans to sponsor some seditious publications for circulation within and outside the country.
“Specifically, the publication is targeted at the persons and offices of members of the National Assembly with the sole aim of discrediting the lawmakers with a view to pre-empting the outcome of the on-going investigation by the Senate.
“Similarly, the envisaged publication, which is expected to come on stream any moment from now, is being tailored to cast aspersions on the person and office of President Olusegun Obasanjo. The publication, which seeks to defame the President and members of the National Assembly, is being tailored to prejudice, frustrate and discredit the on-going probe by the Senate.
“Also on target for this malicious attack are many top public office holders, including ministers, advisers, businessmen and a handful of traditional rulers. Sponsors of the publication have realised that the contents of the publication will not find accommodation in the existing print and electronic media due to its heavy doses of libelous and seditious messages, hence the resort to the unconventional.
“The offensive publication, which the authors intend to roll out as from this month (October 2006) is being programmed to run through September 2007. Members of the public are hereby enjoined to disregard the said publication whenever they see it and take it for what it is: A desperate attempt by a drowning man to clutch at a straw.”
Atiku dismisses allegations
In a swift raction, Vice President Atiku dismissed the allegations by the Federal Government as malicious and devilish. Dr Adeolu Akande, in a statement said: “The Atiku Abubakar campaign Organisation has described as wicked, malicious and evil the allegation that it had plans to sponsor seditious publications against Senators investigating the PTDF and related organisations.
“The allegation is not only ludicrous and baseless but a clear evidence of how low the President and his handlers are prepared to go in this crisis.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Atiku Campaign has no plan to publish or sponsor the publication of any document that will cast aspersions on the distinguished Senators who now have the onerous task of investigating the truth behind the fabricated reports of EFCC/Bayo Ojo panel.
“The Atiku Campaign holds the National Assembly in very high esteem. It is not in our character to disrespect, interfere or smear the reputation of our esteemed legislators.
“The dark minds that concocted this allegation are hoping to brow beat the legislators from the impending public hearing for which the Vice President is well prepared. Vice President Atiku Abubakar sees the Senate hearing as the best opportunity to clear his name and stand tall before the Nigerian people.
“It would be recalled that the Atiku Campaign had recently alerted the public to attempts being made to rope Atiku and his supporters into a coup plot as a way of eliminating them. This unsubstantiated allegation by the President’s political adviser should be seen as part of that evil plot.
“The President and his people are obviously getting frustrated by the day because none of the mud thrown at Atiku seems to be sticking. For example, the US Administration has denied targeting Atiku in its investigation of Congressman Jefferson, as evident in the press statement of the American embassy in Abuja on Thursday, October 5, 2006.
“The President is equally nervous about appearing in the Senate because of the unexpected turn of events in his blind determination to stop Atiku from contesting the 2007 election.
“The Senate’s decision to conduct its independent probe of PTDF and related organisations was not exactly what Obasanjo had hoped for, hence, the resort to cheap blackmail and infantile tactics.
“It should be recalled that in our press statement on September 26, 2006, the Vice President welcomed the setting up of the Senate Committee, saying it will clear him of all allegations of wrong doings.
“It, therefore, makes no sense that the Vice President or his campaign Organisation that have expressed utmost confidence in the senators would be part of a campaign of calumny against the senators.”
I ‘ll clear my name — VP
Also yesterday Vice-President Atiku expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of appearing before the Senate ad-hoc committee probing the affairs of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), affirming it was his greatest opportunity of clearing his name.
The probe panel, on its part, insisted that inviting President Obasanjo and his estranged deputy would depend on the weight of evidence received from the public. The probe panel, Vanguard gathered, would later this week issue guidelines for the public presentation of memoranda.
The Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba-led Committee had earlier said it was disposed to receiving further evidence from President Obasanjo and Vice-President Atiku on the depth of their knowledge of the affairs in the PTDF.
Expressing his readiness and willingness to appear before the Senate ad-hoc committee, the Vice-President speaking through his media consultant, Mallam Garba Shehu, said: “We think that the best opportunity for the Vice-President to put his case to the Nigerian public is the opportunity offered by the Senate probe committee and the Vice-President will cease the opportunity to put his case for all to see. That is when the Nigerian public will know who is saying the truth and who is lying.”
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