6 March 2009

Nigeria: Judiciary Responsible for Delayed Cases - Waziri

Abuja — Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs. Farida Waziri has said the Commission will not entertain plea bargain in its cases anymore, positing that the nation's judiciary is responsible for delay in crime cases.

Waziri who made her position known yesterday, during a courtesy visit by members of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NAN) at the EFCC headquarters, expressed her discomfort with the plea bargain which allows public fund looters to go scot free.

Her words, "Since assumption of office, I have never believed in plea bargaining. Why would you use proceedings from stolen public fund to get soft landing or an easy way out? It doesn't make sense!"

"I am not comfortable with the plea bargain. We did it with Igbenedion and I was not satisfied. So, we won't go into plea bargain anymore unless when it benefits the commission and the public".

On delayed EFCC cases, she said, "There are several pending cases which investigations have been concluded. Cases are so slow that even some from my predecessor have not even commenced. However, it is not the EFCC. Cases are handled by a different arm of government, the Judiciary and they are responsible for these delayed cases".

Speaking on the occasion, the National President of NANS, Comrade Baballe Bashir, accompanied by other executives, disclosed that the highest level of corruption takes place within the academic environment especially given the fact that there has been no proper hand-over in the body in the past ten years.

On the decay in the academic environment, Bashir appealed to the commission, "We urge you to beam your searchlight on the academia where there are several allegations of corrupt malpractices ranging from extortion by lecturers, sorting by students, examination practices to mismanagement of resources by managements of our institutions across the nation". He noted the misappropriation of internal revenue to the tune of N40 million in tertiary institutions and called on the EFCC to bring all concerned to book.

Making specific reference to the Iwu award controversy, the president further enlisted the support of the commission in eliminating fraudulent individuals who pose as officials of NAN to defraud innocent and unsuspecting victims.

Hear him, "There are over fifteen accounts in the name of NANS being operated in banks across the country. There are also awards given out indiscriminately, for instance, the Iwu award. I was even out of the country at the time and so, had nothing to do with it. We therefore call on you to save NANS from the whims and caprices of these fraudulent individuals".

NANS further disclosed its plan to launch the Nigerian Students Zero Tolerance on Corruption Campaign cum, the unveiling of anti-corruption billboards on campuses and students anti-corruption lecture time-table billed for Bayero University, Kano.

Responding, Mrs. Waziri charged the association with the responsibility of fighting corruption instigated by people in positions of authority, "I encourage you as leaders of tomorrow to eschew all forms of social vices, brace the odds and let's make our country a better place to live in."

She further advised youths to rise above intimidation, just as she has refused to be cowed by threats and shameless lies and petitions.

"Several of them who know I am serious, have sent false petitions to the President, Senate and House of Representatives. They went as far as saying I collected a Jeep worth N600 million from the governor of Akwa-Ibom state. It is a baseless accusation".

Waziri assured the association of her unreserved support for the cause starting with her proposal that ethics be involved in school curriculum from primary school level. In line with requests, she also promised to look into petitions against vice chancellors and rectors.

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