press releaseBy Olanrewaju Suraj
In a move that smacks of ignorance or outright trickery, the Nasarawa State of House Assembly conferred the powers and privileges of a Court of Justice on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in its response to an FoI request.
Nasarawa State Lawmakers were touted, in some news reports, to be on salaries and allowances beyond the statutory approval of Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, placing them above counterparts in other States across the Country and even those in the National Assembly. The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), a coalition of over hundred and fifty Anti-corruption organizations, committed to constructive combating of corruption and enthronement of transparency, accountability, probity, and total commitment in the fight to eradicate corruption in Nigeria, obtained through independent investigation and Freedom of Information some documents confirming blatant violation of extant laws of the country.
In a bid to reaffirm the veracity of information contained in documents previously obtained through other sources, CSNAC, under the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 requested, through the Clerk of Nasarawa State House Assembly, for relevant information and documents on salaries and allowances paid Members of the Assembly between June 2011 and October 2013.
In a ludicrous letter dated 9th December 2013 and personally signed by Clerk of the House, crafted to protect the rapacious operations of Assembly and in violation of the FoI Act, the status of a Court was arrogated to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The Clerk, ignominiously refused CSNAC request, citing pending investigation of EFCC, as incited by CSNAC, as the basis for this refusal.
It beats ones imagination how such craft ignorance could be ominously displayed by a law-making institution. This artful dodge of House failed to show how the release of requested documents impedes or stampedes the ongoing investigation of the Commission, based on petition of CSNAC on same matter to the EFCC.
This odious response has no doubt reinforced the tenacity of CSNAC in following this elected-inhumanity-to-electorate to a logical conclusion. All available legal and constitutional means will be explored to ensure transparency, accountability and, protect rights guaranteed under the FoI Act.