Posted by News Express | 11 May 2015 | 4,188 times
A pro-transparency Non-Governmental Organisation, the Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) has faulted a disclaimer published by the Ibrahim Lamorde-led hierarchy of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the weekend against two erstwhile officers of the anti-graft body Mr Michael Nzekwe and Mrs Juliet Ibekaku.
Nzekwe and Ibekaki are currently challenging before a competent court of law their retrenchment in “questionable circumstances by the same leadership.”
The Rights group has accused the EFCC of disregarding and disrespecting the competent court of law by making a publication of disclaimer on a matter before the court for determination and has indeed violated the fundamental right to fair hearing guaranteed under chapter four of the Nigerian constitution of 1999 (as amended).
Nzekwe was purportedly dismissed for allegedly travelling and overstaying his holiday without permission. But he is in court challenging the legality of such a drastic action without the EFCC management having recourse to the internal mechanisms of tackling such staff matters.
HURIWA recalled that the Ibrahim Lamorde led management had sensationally paid for half page advertorial in two national dailies at the Weekend disclaim
“Mr Michael Nzekwe and Mrs Julieth Ibekaku even when the Chairman of the EFCC is aware and indeed has entered appearance through the EFCC’s legal team in two separate maters before the Federal High Court Abuja Division and the National Industrial Court in which the duo through their respective legal teams are asking the judiciary to reverse their unconstitutional removal on the ground that it bothered on witch hunt and indeed illegal.
“In the said disclaimer published in two newspapers last weekend the advertisers identified themselves as management of the EFCC stated that the duo were no longer staff of the anti-graft commission and should be disregarded should they parade themselves as officers of EFCC.”
In a statement to the media jointly signed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA stated that it smacks of total lack of respect for the competent court if law and indeed a sign of bad fate that the Ibrahim Lamorde-led EFCC has used funds of the commission to sponsor publications in the media to tarnish the integrity of the Nigerian court system by jumping the gun in pronouncing a fait accompli against the duo of Michael Nzekwe and Juliet Ibekaku when their litigation are yet to be determined.
Besides, HURIWA stated that “in the matter instituted by Michael Nzekwe there's a serious allegations that his illegal and hasty removal from his duty post as a prosecution counsel with the EFCC on the directive of the EFCC chairman without due process was instigated by his refusal to allegedly compromise a petition of alleged bribery against one Mr Aliyu Habeeb a staff of EFCC and a relation by marriage to the Chairman made by Mrs Uzoma Attang a director with the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology indicted in the N32 Billion Police Pension Scam.”
HURIWA stated thus: “Gentlemen of the media permit me to disclose to you that there is indeed a petition of alleged unethical conduct of EFCC’s operatives Aliyu Habeeb and others and obtaining by false pretence of N50 million using Mike Okorocha and Sylvester Okereke and this petition received by the EFCC’s director of operations on May 23rd 2013.
“This matter was sent to Mr Michael Nzekwe of the Prosecution department of EFCC to handle by the director of operations but the Chairman got wind of it and allegedly wanted to scuttle the professional investigations of these damaging allegations against the officer who is reportedly said to be related to him.
“The alleged refusal of Mr Nzekwe to play game led to his removal from duty on the nebulous ground that some years back he had overstayed his leave which he spent on holiday in the United States. The removal of Nzekwe without due process of board internal hearing is illegal and this is the basis for the ongoing court case.
“In the case of Mrs Juliet Ibekaku she was pushed out of office as Acting Director of Financial Intelligence Unit of the EFCC because she spearheaded the advocacy before the National Assembly for the unit to become wholly independent of EFCC since its duties involves all tiers of law enforcement community.
“The passage of the National Financial Intelligence Center was the last stroll that broke the camel's back leading to her been chased out of her office on the orders of the Chairman of EFCC. She has filed a matter before the National Industrial Court and hearings are ongoing.
“So why will the EFCC chairman rush to the press to demonise persons who are seeking the enforcement of their fundamental rights as bonafide citizens of Nigeria holding lawful jobs with the EFCC that must not be terminated on the whims and caprice of the Chairman?”
HURIWA said that ethnic cleansing is behind the selective witch hunt of professionals working diligently in EFCC who hail from the South East zone of Nigeria because of perceived apprehension of the current holder of the office of chairman that his successor might be one of the two and because he (Lamorde) has come under intense criticism for poor performance.
“It is likely that he may be afraid that Mrs Ibekaku may succeed him if the President elect decides to wage serious anti graft war from May 29th 2015. This is one of the suspected reasons that may have motivated him to take the illegal decision of publishing a disclaimer in the media which completely amounts to contempt of court.”
HURIWA also stated that one of the two mentioned in the said disclaimer Mrs Juliet Ibekaku, who petitioned the National Human Rights Commission alleging breaches of her fundamental human rights and threats to her life allegedly by the chairman of the EFCC, had also contested elective position under the banners of the All Progressives Congress as the running mate to the Enugu State governorship candidate.
The rights group said that the disclaimer on the instruction of the EFCC chairman, who bears deep seated grudge and anti-Igbo sentiments, may have done the disclaimer in the media because of the groundswell of opinion in political circles that Mrs. Ibekaku may either land a ministerial job or be appointed as Chairman of the EFCC by the President-elect, who is aware that the activities of the anti graft commission has grounded to a halt.
“For the sake of justice we urge the court to indict the chairman of EFCC for contempt for seeking to force a fait accompli on it in the two separate matters instituted by the duo against their unconstitutional removal from office.”
•Photo shows Lamorde.
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