By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The foremost CIVIL RIGHTS AND PRO- TRANSPARENCY ADVOCACY GROUP: – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked the newly appointed head of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa to launch a massive forensic investigations of the finances of Federal agencies going by the massive scale of corruption associated with public procurement processes.
The Rights group applauded the anti-graft body for the prosecution of the erstwhile Director General of the Bureau of public procurement over alleged N1billion bribery scam relating to the privatisation exercise in the electricity power sector.
HURIWA said the case of the erstwhile DG of BPE is only a drop out of the ocean of widespread corruption that characterized the financial dealings of virtually eighty percent of the Federal Agencies and ministries in the Nation’s capital just as the Rights group said the EFCC CHAIRMAN must partner with sister agencies and civil society community in Nigeria to stamp out the incredible quantum of corruption in the running of government agencies in Nigeria. HURIWA has also advocated the transparent enforcement of the WHISTLE BLOWERS PROTECTION AND COMPENSATION POLICY OF THE MUHAMMADU BUHARI ADMINISTRATION.
HURIWA however thinks the scale of Procurement Corruption tearing down the public sector in Abuja is so huge that the time is now ripe for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC), the code of conduct, the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) to jointly begin Coordinated forensic audits of the administration of public finances involving all Federal Ministries, agencies and extra-ministerial commissions.
The Rights group said staggering scale of Corruption in the government agencies is the fundamental cause of mass poverty; high Crime rate, insecurity and unemployment in the Country just as the Rights group said the menace of procurement corruption must be stamped for good governance to take root.
“We are by this statement also calling on the EFCC and ICPC to uncover the gang behind the serial theft of huge financial resources budgeted and released for the implementation of the school feeding programme and the social investment programme of the Central Government in which several billions are reportedly budgeted with little or nothing to show for these massive fund.
“As an organization, we think the new Chairman of EFCC has his job cut out for him going by the monumental corruption that goes on in all the key ministries with the consequential explosion of mass poverty, youths unemployment and unimaginable scale of sophisticated crimes going on in Nigeria.”
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had reportedly arraigned a former director-general of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, Benjamin Ezra Dikki, before Justice Yusuf Halilu of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja on four counts of alleged corruption and abuse of office.
EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren said in a statement that Dikki who was docked alongside his Company, Kebna Studios & Communications limited, allegedly received about a billion naira as gratification from Bestworth Insurance brokers for his role in facilitating the approval of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
Count one of the charge reads; “that you Benjamin Ezra Dikki, while being the director-general of Bureau of Public Enterprise and also the
managing director of Kebna Studios & Communications Limited, and Kebna Studios & Communications Limited, on or about 30th day of January, 2015, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, did corruptly accepts as reward the sum of N250, 000,000.00 only through Kebna Studios & Communications Limited’s Skye Bank Account No.1771649525 from Bestworth Insurance brokers limited for your role in facilitating the approval of outstanding insurance premiums and claims of deceased and incapacitated staff of PHCN and thereby committed and offence contrary to Section 17(1)(a) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences ACT, 2000 and punishable under Section (17)(c) of the same Act.”
The defendants pleaded not guilty, when the charges were read to them.
In view of their plea, prosecution counsel Benjamin Menji asked the court for a date to commence trial and to remand the defendant at aNigerian Correctional Service facility. “We shall be asking for a date to enable us assemble our witnesses and to prove the entire counts against the defendants and we shall urge the court to remand the first defendant in a Correctional facility pending commencement of his trial,” he said.
Counsel for the first defendant, Abdul Muhammed urged the court to grant his client bail citing Section 158, 162 and 163 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA.
The Rights group said the prosecution of the erstwhile BPE Chieftain must never be compromised, undermined or sabotage like those of the other big government officials initially arraigned by the anti graft bodies.