By Angela Inusa
The recent vandalisation carried out by the EFCC on the Kakatar premises of Azibaola Roberts in Otakheme, Bayelsa on Thursday 13th of April is raising some dusts and eyebrow of some Nigerians on the real motive behind their actions.
The action which is being carried out following the failure of the EFCC to produce substantive witness or evidence of cash of the alleged $40 million contract scam it indicted the duo of Azibaola and his wife of in 2016.
According to reports, the duo are answering to a seven-count charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against them before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The most recent of the court sitting, presided over by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba on the 13th of April, saw the EFCC pleading to the court to grant the anti-graft agency more indulgence to enable it get witnesses and evidence.
Thus, in a bid to produce the witnesses and evidence, the agency invaded the Kakatar CE Limited premise of Azibaola in Bayelsa, breaking into all the containers in the premises, vandalising machines and equipment as well as breaking into residential buildings, lifts and basements and assaulting security men on duty.
According to the account of the branding manager of Kakakar CE Limited, Mr Austin Ekehinde, “No search warrant was produced by the agency despite repeated requests by security guards on duty even as the EFCC operatives repeatedly threatened and assaulted them, seizing their phones.
Ekehinde said that the EFCC operatives also assaulted passerby and seized their phones during the operation.
He said that at the end of their operation, nothing was recovered from the premise.
The question being asked thus is, if the EFCC had done all these as alleged, what it speaks of them as an agency supposedly fighting corruption.
This is because Corruption as we know, does not only mean ‘a dishonest act or conduct by a person for personal gains at the expense of another’. It also extends to ‘the use of one’s position of authority through misuse of conduct to secure convictions of accused persons or suspects of a crime’.
Another mystery that bothers the masses is why the anti- corruption agency did not conduct proper investigations with fact before prosecuting the Azibaolas. If they had, they would not have been found wanting of evidence at court to proof guilt of the indicted persons. Instead, it applied a questionable process of carrying out investigations on the accused property without a Search Warrant.
Forcefully invading and destroying the property of a person who have not been found wanting, without a Search Warrant is wrong by the standard of most countries in the world (Nigeria inclusive) as regards the rights to owning property/ies by any bonafide citizen of a country.
So, irrespective of the person or organisation involved, forceful invasion of citizen is wrong and bounds on criminal conducts. Thus, it will be in place to say that EFCC has erred in its bid to bring an accused person to book.
I think for an agency of such magnitude, EFCC should set good model by following due process as stipulated by the constitution and law of the country in prosecuting a suspect who has not yet been proved guilty of any charge.
It should go back to its drawing board as regards the charge against Azibaola and the $40 million contract scandal and take the right steps constitutionally to resolve the issue.
Albeit, it will be a tough venture for them in that during the course of this whole case, Azibaola had on May 4th 2016, accused the EFCC of forcefully trying to indict Former President Jonathan, using means only meant to be meted out on hardened criminal such as murderers, kidnappers and others.
Therefore, until legitimate evidence or witness is righteously approved by the judiciary, neither the EFCC nor the Azibaolas have a right to be proven right or wrong in their counter accusations and fight for justice.
Consequently, until substantive evidence is accepted by the court to prove the innocence or guilt of the indicted persons, the EFCC must and should follow the justice process as stipulated by the constitution of the land.
This should be done by respecting the fundamental rights of the Azibaola until they have been proven guilty as charged.