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OP-UNEDITED | Buhari, EFCC and the Unfolding Anti-Corruption War – By Chima Christian

By Chima Christian

More fireworks continue to be exchanged at the anti-corruption battlefield as new entrants are being dragged into the fray. One of the latest entrants being Uche Secondus, the immediate past acting chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party. The EFCC in revealing why Secondus was seen dangling in their dragnet said that his name popped up during their investigations into Jide Omokores oil transactions. The jaw dropping accusations leveled against Secondus as expected sparked off media and roadside prosecutions.

The kind of sensationalism that greets such revelations, especially at this time Nigeria is beset with an unprecedented economic hardship can only be imagined. This is evidenced by the litany of media prosecutions and street convictions that attend to such revelations. Nigerians disagree on a lot of issues but there is a general consensus today that corruption urgently needs to be defeated, at least technically. Nothing tickles the fancy of Nigerians more than when the metaphorical yam eaters are caught. The anti-climax however, slowly creeps in when they see those yam eaters gradually wriggle their way out of the anti-corruption dragnet. But just before that anti-climax, another big yam eater is thrown into the anti-corruption battlefield. Here comes the ecstasy again, but then, the anti-climax and the vicious cycle continues.

If past proceedings are anything to go by, one can summarily say that the best EFCC can get out of the Secondus saga at the end of the day is media prosecution, detention and then, nothing. But that does not have to happen. The past does not have to be necessarily repeated. The EFCC, as is typical of them, produce tons of evidence to initiate media trials and follow it up with a very strict prosecutorial procedure to secure media convictions but endemically lacks same to secure court convictions. It then seems like they have more tongue than fangs in their offensive arsenal.

Agreed, to win this war, the Buhari  led Federal Government in concert with the EFCC and other relevant anti-graft agencies must garner the peoples support through the media. Of which without whom, no meaningful progress can be made. The tactic of pitching the people against corrupt persons will sure weaken the firm grips of corruption, but securing court convictions is weightier in fighting corruption. Considering the plethora of cases that die in court, one will readily submit that the seemingly exuberant EFCC is plagued by either sheer incompetence, compromise or both. How do you explain that the same organization that was so sure that the person in their dragnet ate the metaphorical yams and should be behind bars curiously fail in most of the time to prove that to the courts? Maybe this explains why more and more Nigerians are beginning to give up in despair the notion that this anti-corruption war is one that can be won.

Given, allegedly corrupt public officials go any length to bungle the prosecution. They do not mind hiring an army of counsels to exploit known laws of the land to their advantage. They do not mind hiring media warlords to help sway the people. They do not mind attacking prosecution on all possible fronts. They do not mind influencing some unscrupulous elements in the bench to give favourable judgements. But, it is only in the dreamland that prosecutors expect defendants not to try to defend themselves  that is why they are called defendants. You can call it corruption fighting back or any other name that tells your own side of the story. However, the fact remains that defendants must put up a strong and robust defence. The deal is in your ability to arrive at conviction, despite the defence. As it appears, our anti-corruption warlords are yet to fully understand the intricacies of their work environment. In the meantime, they make up for their incompetence by playing the blame game. This is a counter-productive strategy. Except if all these prosecution noise is just to score cheap political points. If it is about salvaging Nigeria from this endemic, then it is time for the Buhari-led anti-corruption warlords to look inwards. It is time to expand the information gathering tentacles of the EFCC. It is time to expand the operational framework of crime fighting agencies. It is time to redesign the current prosecutorial protocol. Arrests, detentions and media engagements should be delayed until a substantial part of the body of evidence required to secure convictions are ready. We need to move away from this trend of much noise with less progress. Nigerians hear every day the expose of corrupt practices, threats of probe and prosecutions but after the noise, nothing.

It is wrong to infer that the EFCC struck a marketing deal with Mercedes-Benz and Range Rover in this Secondus saga. However, one thing is sure. Over time, the vast majority of the people that these Nollywood-like prosecutions incite, excite, impress and even depress will soon forget the details and the logical conclusion of this particular case as they will be bothered by fresh and more touching ones.  But they will not forget the names of the two advertised vehicles in a hurry. Mercedes G63 and Range Rover Autobiography.

Sadly, President Obama is emptying the Guantanamo at the time President Buhari is fighting corruption. Most Nigerians will love to see those that looted our treasury return all the loots and spend the rest of their lives in Guantanamo, not even in Kirikiri or Kuje but the anti-corruption warlords should learn to do their work with less noise and more efficiency. Well at least, we now have more than enough theatrics to meet our needs for sensationalism. Anti-corruption viewers please enjoy this episode of the show and do not forget to buy locally made popcorns in the gallery.

Chima is a civil rights activist, public policy analyst and a good governance advocate. He writes in from Nnewi, Anambra State. He can be contacted on Twitter via @ChimaCChristian.

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