THE Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) has threatened a showdown with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over its accusation that the NGF Chairman and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, diverted part of London-Paris Club refunds.
The governor has been under EFCC investigation for some time now as he has been severally accused of using the proceeds of the alleged crime to buy himself choice properties in United States and Nigeria.
The governor has denied the allegations and is currently in court against the agency to prove his innocence.
However, the forum of governors said on Thursday that since the EFCC has refused to back down in “the needless harassment and embarrassment” of its chairman and some other members of its forum across the 36 states of the federation, it has no other option but to fight back with all it has.
As a first step, the governors said they will formally write to the Federal Government to complain about the antics of the commission and its chairman, Ibrahim Magu, against them.
At a press conference with select group of journalists in Abuja, Governor Yari said the EFCC since its inception in 2004 has be intimidating and harassing state governors.
“We are going to write to the Federal Government that enough is enough; that either the EFCC do their work or we should engage in a showdown with them because nobody became governor to be intimidated, to be harassed, to be abused by a deputy commissioner of police,” he said.
He said the EFCC has since abandoned the fight against corruption in pursuit of personal vendetta orchestrated by some politicians who are not comfortable with the progress being made under the current administration.
The NGF chairman said since it is not possible for any governor to walk into any bank and take money out of the vault without assistance from bank officials, the EFCC should have proved its sincerity to the fight against corruption by arresting and bringing to public knowledge any bank official who is found to have helped any particular governor siphon money.
The EFCC was lampooned for always rushing to make a show of any highly placed individual who has a frivolous petition written against him, without the anti-graft agency doing a proper investigation.
The anomaly, he said, accounts for the retinue of losses the EFCC has been recording in courts in the process of prosecuting people suspected of corruption.
According to the governor, the basis of accusation against governors, especially as it has to do with project pricing has always been wrong.
“I believe the EFCC does not have its own engineers to quantify, to know what is exactly on the ground. And a project that is done in Rivers State for N2 million, in Zamfara it will be about N150, 000.
“You cannot say the price of things in Rivers should be the same in Zamfara or somewhere else. The terrain is entirely different and the cost is different, so the risk as well is entirely different, so all these are taken into consideration.
“If there is a project which is being suspected to be over-inflated, there are quantity surveyors. You can’t just because somebody wrote a petition then you say you are working on it without doing your own due diligence,” he noted.
“The problem with the EFCC is they only want to know they invited governor, one former governor is arrested and they will not tidy their work before going to court; they go to court and lose all the cases because of the way they initiated the case, they never initiated to achieve success, rather they want to make publicity stunts.
“You can’t fight corruption that way and forever they will not achieve anything”, he said.