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FG says candidates on EFCC list canít contest elections

Posted by By LUCKY NWANKWERE, Abuja and FEMI BABAFEMI, Lagos on 2007/02/14 | Views: 632 |

FG says candidates on EFCC list canít contest elections


The Federal Government Tuesday foreclosed the possibility of anyone indicted for corrupt practices by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) being allowed to contest in the April elections.

The Federal Government Tuesday foreclosed the possibility of anyone indicted for corrupt practices by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) being allowed to contest in the April elections.

This followed the decision of a special session of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to adopt the verdict of guilt passed on 135 public office seekers by an administrative panel of inquiry, which was set up to consider a list of indicted candidates compiled by the EFCC.

The FEC decision has, however, attracted the outrage of the Action Congress (AC) whose presidential candidate, Vice President Atiku Abubakar topped the list of the indicted candidates, and the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), which described the decision as capable of setting the country on fire.

The Minister of Information and Communication, Mr. Frank Nweke who briefed journalists in Abuja yesterday on the outcome of the special meeting said all the indicted persons whose cases were proven to be clear and factual stood indicted and had been disqualified from contesting the elections.
He refused to provide details of the report and those barred from standing elections, saying the details had been forwarded to all the political parties and relevant agencies in the country by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation which acts as secretariat to the council.

The administrative panel of inquiry headed by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Prof. Ignatius Ayua only submitted its report to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday.
Less than 24 hours later, Nweke said a white paper committee on the report of the panel, headed by the Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili and with Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and Chief Femi Fani-Kayode among the members, concluded work on the report which was presented to the special session of the council.

He explained why government had to rush through the entire process, hinging it on the need to beat the deadline given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the political parties to submit the lists of their candidates.
Asked if he thought justice was done in the cases of individuals so considered in the rush to beat the INEC deadline, he said the interest of the country was what mattered in the circumstance, adding, however, that not all persons indicted by the EFCC whose cases were considered were adjudged to be so.

According to the minister, the main criterion used for the indictment of the persons involved was ensuring that facts of the accusations were clear and sufficient evidence had been adduced to support the accusation of corrupt practices.
He advised all political parties which he said had already been communicated on the matter to ensure compliance with the provision of the Constitution which disqualifies any person(s) indicted for corruption by an administrative panel of inquiry set up by government, pointing out that the ruling party, the PDP, had taken the lead by replacing its indicted candidates for the April elections.
Asked what government would do in the event that political parties disregarded its directive as some of them are known to have, Nweke said in that case, "appropriate agencies of government will act appropriately on it."

The AC in a swift reaction described the governmentís move as a nullity, adding that it should be treated with contempt and levity.
Speaking with Daily Sun on the development, AC National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed vowed that his party "wonít accept this and we will contest it in court. 10,000 gazette canít stop our candidates from contesting because they have broken no law of the land."
According to him, "this is because it is trite in law that a person must know what heís been accused of. Most of the people asked to appear before the panel didnít know what their offences were. There was no prior notice of the charges being made against them.

"Many of them didnít appear before the panel, so how do you indict somebody who didnít appear before you. But AC has discovered that even the original EFCC list was actually compiled by the presidency and was only given the EFCC to announce, which is reminiscent of the Abacha days when the UNCP was the official party of government and anybody who the party finds difficult, will simply send his name to Federal Government to disqualify for security reasons."

In his own reaction, the National Publicity Secretary of PPA, Chief Olu Akerele said: "What Obasanjo has done with the gazette is to set the country on fire. The action is not only mindless but capable of wiping out what we have achieved as democracy dividends this past seven years.
"How Obasanjo will announce to Nigerians and foreigners alike that he is not clearing the way for only PDP to sweep the elections remain to be seen.

"He should know that Nigeria is bigger than him (Obasanjo) and the PDP as a party, so, we call on all Nigerians to resist this flagrant disrespect for democratic values and fairness.

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your ‚Äúevening life is better than evening life‚ÄĚ?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.