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Group Condemns EFCC’s Long Detention of Obiano Over Mismanagement Of Anambra’s Billions

ByHybrid News

Mar 22, 2022

It is the position of the Int’l Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission does not need and is not required by law to keep Former Governor Obiano in long detention over mismanagement of Anambra’s billions of Naira.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and its Act deals with ‘non-violent criminal and illicit activity or activities involving public officers, former public officers, individual citizens and body corporates including social enterprises. See Sections 46 and 7 of the EFCC Act for more details.

Economic and Financial Crimes, therefore, are paper, electronic and property based traceable crimes, otherwise called “White-Collar or Bureaucratic/Institutional Crimes”.

In other words, their pieces of evidence and proofs are easily traceable or can easily be assembled.

Instances include money laundering or stashing away of public funds, onshore or offshore acquisition of choice and questionable properties while holding office in public governance, ostentatious lifestyles or lifestyles that are far above the income of a public office holder or immediate past public office holder, gross disparity between the paper and field contents of the pre public office occupation asset declarations and their post public office occupation asset declarations, misappropriation and misapplication of public funds or diversion of public funds such as Local Government allocated funds which never reflect in the State Appropriation and Supplementary Appropriation Laws; etc.

In the case of former Governor Obiano, therefore, EFCC has no legal business holding him in long detention as doing so diminishes the EFCC competence and marks same out as economic and financial crimes commission of crude and typewriter age or era. Long detention also does not offer competence in criminal investigations regarding crimes of economic and financial nature.

Under Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution, long detention such as maximum sixty to ninety days detention is factored within the confines of arresting and detaining suspects alleged to have committed offenses bordering on capital punishments especially serious crimes of premeditated homicide or murder, terrorism, armed robbery, abduction and treason; all for purposes of complex criminal investigations.

It is a settled law in Nigeria that no offense under Economic and Financial Crimes is a capital punishment warranting long detention for purpose of “man-machine-mental” investigations. Therefore, holding former Governor Obiano for long in detention which is entering its fifth day, may end up being counter-productive and expose EFCC as incompetence, crude, draconian and lawless anti graft agency.

Consequently, the only substance of new Governor Soludo’s position on Obiano and EFCC is that detaining him long is unnecessary. However, we beg to disagree with the new Gov and former Senator Victor Umeh on their perceived impression that suggests that “Obiano is a saintly former Anambra Governor”.

The new Governor must also watch his back and utterances and focus on his new task of governing the State. He must also learn a big lesson from the self inflicted trivail of the former Governor and leave the former Governor to carry his cross or burden so invited.

The greatest humiliation done to the former Gov was his arrest hours after he handed over as he was escaping the shores of the country. His ordeal started when he was recently placed locally and internationally on watchlist by the Government of Nigeria over strong suspicion of offending or breaching the Economic and Financial Crimes Act of the Federation 2004, among others.

Contrary to wrong impressions in certain privileged quarters, releasing the former Anambra Governor from EFCC is not the end of his self invited and inflicted cross or ordeal. Rather, by his arrest and detention hours after he left office, the former Governor has made himself locally and internationally inescapable and a guest for sundry investigations on anti graft crimes. He is also morally damned and impeccably ruined both locally and internationally.

The EFCC must therefore free him conditionally and investigatively or judicially ban him from traveling outside the country pending the conclusion of his investigation or prosecution. Other deterant measures against him must include seizing his international passports and placing his family members under watchlist and expediting processes of investigation and prosecution against him.

Finally, we wish to clarify that contrary to false media reports, respected former Senator Umeh may have made favourable and defensive comments on the detained former Governor Obiano (i.e. “Obiano did not build projects with sands, he did well as Governor”), but the former Senator never made such statement at the Prof Timothy Uzodinma Nwala’s 80th birthday event which took place on Friday, 18th March 2022.

Inter-society, as a key partner of the AlaIgbo Development Foundation and an ally of Prof Uzodinma Nwala, was ably represented at the event and our reps were there when respected former Senator Victor Umeh arrived, up to the time he made a brief remark which wholly centered on the Celebrant and at no time was his remark or statement centered or touched on Anambra former Governor, his scorecard and EFCC case.

Respected Senator Umeh also could not have made such statement at such event because it was capable of attracting hash reactions with capacity to disrupt the August event. The sharp reactions that trailed that of the new Anambra Governor during his maiden Thanksgiving Service last Sunday at Ekwulobia are a clear case in point.

It is therefore likely that some overzealous media handlers, in their desperation to please their masters at all cost, are the brains behind the false linkage of the statement to Prof Uzodinma’s 80th Birthday event; an attempt to drag the impeccable and impeachable name of the respected Prof and his August occasion to the mud as well as the corporate integrity of the AlaIgbo Development Foundation, a respected socio-regional development, good governance and public accountability campaigner and promoter.

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