The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will not take any action on the petition asking it to investigate the source of the money conveyed in bullion vans to the home of the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on the eve of the 2019 presidential election.
Speaking exclusively with Daily Independent at the weekend, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), said the petition against Tinubu was baseless and written in bad faith.
He added that the anti-graft agency and its head, Ibrahim Magu, will not join those plotting to bring down Tinubu at all cost because of his political beliefs.
“If there is no credence in the petitions, what is there to investigate? You know Nigerians are very adept at writing petitions. They like frivolous petitions just as they like litigations. If you know how many petitions are thrown out at the NJC, you will be amazed.
“The Nigerian mind tends to be very vicious in terms of these things. They don’t like Tinubu so they must write a petition against him; a stupid baseless petition.
“When that petition is not acted upon by reasonable men, then they allege there is bias.
“My view is that there is no basis for those petitions. There is no merit in those petitions and that is why the EFCC is not acting on them.”
Speaking on the bullion vans sighted in Tinubu’s compound, Sagay said that did not constitute an offence and did not make Tinubu a criminal.
He also said Tinubu had been a very wealthy man before his election as governor in 1999 who used his wealth to finance many pro-democracy groups who were fighting for the actualisation of the June 12, 1993 presidential election mandate.
“They said they sighted bullion vans in front of his house. Is that an offence? It makes no sense to me. If a bullion van comes to my house now to deliver anything, does that make me a criminal? Even if it is money, and it is my money, what is wrong in that?
“So, I don’t see anything in those petitions. They are just written in bad faith and hatred and they can’t expect the EFCC to join them in this baseless hatred of other people and pursue a vicious campaign of persecution and calumny just because they live in a state of permanent hatred of people who are working hard for the transformation of this country towards development and progress.
“Tinubu was already very rich before he became governor. He is not a man who became rich after he joined the government.
“He worked in the petroleum sector. I recalled that during the course of his fight with Abacha, he had to escape for his life in order to join so many other people like Anthony Enahoro, Wole Soyinka, and many other pro-democracy activists.
“Tinubu was the one funding quite a lot of the organisations and those staying abroad. So, he has always been a man of means.
“It will be ridiculous that having come back to the country, won’t he invest his money in various ventures? So, no one should be surprised that he is a rich man.
“All I know is that he is rich from his own hard work, investments and, therefore, he should be given the benefit of the doubt instead of being subjected to the persecution which some people want him to be subjected to.”
However, in his reaction to Sagay’s opinion, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), human rights lawyer, said the Act establishing the EFCC mandated it to investigate any person, no matter how highly placed, in accordance with its motto which says no one is above the law.
“So, when a petition is written against their chieftain, it is written in bad faith; but when it is written against small-time ‘yahoo boys’, then it is written in good faith.
“What is the job of the EFCC under section 6 and 7 of the EFCC Act? It is to investigate any person, no matter how highly placed, in accordance with its motto: ‘No one is above the law’.
“No one is saying Tinubu has done anything wrong yet, but don’t Nigerians have a right to demand that he be investigated?
“Why should the investigation be written off, whether it was done in bad faith or good faith? Why can’t the bad faith be shown in the aftermath of the investigation? There should be no sacred cows,” he said.
It would be recalled that a rights activist, Deji Adeyanju, had filed a formal petition demanding an investigation into the bullion vans in Tinubu’s house following claims by the commission that it could not act without a formal petition over the issue.
Adeyanju’s petition dated October 25, 2019, was addressed to the acting chairman of the anti-graft agency, Ibrahim Magu.
In the petition, he reminded the commission of Adeyanju urged the anti-graft agency to accord the petition priority and begin an investigation into the appearance of those bullion vans in Tinubu’s house on the eve of the election.