The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says recent conviction of All Progressives Congress (APC)’s two prominent members has vindicated it against accusations of selectivity in its fight against graft.
Spokesman of the commission, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, said this in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday.
Uwujaren was referring to Jolly Nyame and Joshua Dariye, both former two-term governors of Taraba and Plateau, respectively.
Two weeks ago, a High Court in Abuja convicted and sentenced Nyame to 14 years in prison for misappropriating state funds while in office as governor.
On Tuesday, the same court, presided over by Justice Adebukola Banjoko, found Dariye guilty of diverting N1.16 billion Ecological funds meant for his state to personal use, and also jailed him for 14 years.
Uwujaren stated that the convictions had “put a lie to the often repeated charge by critics and cynics that the EFCC (the prosecutor) is lukewarm in prosecuting chieftains of the ruling party for corruption’’.
He said, “Both trials had been ongoing for 11 years and towards the end of the proceedings, the two convicts changed their political camps, moving from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party to the ruling APC.
“Dariye, who won election into the Senate on the platform of the PDP, decamped to the ruling APC at a critical phase of his trial, when the prosecution had called all its vital witnesses and conviction appeared imminent.
“Not surprisingly, this fuelled speculation that the gambit was a calculated move to stave off imminent conviction.
“But rather than slow proceedings, his trial accelerated, forcing the defence to close its case, thus setting the stage for the judgment of June 12.”
The EFCC spokesman said Mr Mohammed Dakingari, a former Accountant-General of Kebbi and member of the APC was also convicted of corruption and sentenced to 70 years in prison.
He added that former Gov. Orji Kalu of Abia was still undergoing prosecution in court by the EFCC even after crossing to the APC.
The commission, according to him, has closed its case in that matter after calling several witnesses.
“But, rather than open his defence, Kalu elected to file a ‘no case submission’.
“It will be up to the court to determine whether the Commission has presented enough evidence to warrant him to enter his defence.
“From these cases, Nigerians can now appreciate the fact that the EFCC is apolitical, blind to the political colours and affiliations of crime suspects.
“It will be foolhardy for any politically-exposed person under prosecution to think that mere change of political affiliation will guarantee immunity from prosecution.
“Rather than entertain idle gossips who thrive on haranguing the EFCC with charges of selectivity, these two recent convictions offer Nigerians the opportunity to better appreciate the efforts and sacrifices of the commission.”
Uwujaren noted that EFCC’s efforts could be better appreciated when viewed against the huge resources in money and man-hours that went into proving the cases against the two former governors.
He recalled that both cases went up to the Supreme Court on preliminary issues.
“Particularly in the case of Dariye, one of the witnesses, Peter Clark , a former detective of the Metropolitan Police, came several times to give evidence only for proceedings to be frustrated with forced adjournments by Dariye’s lawyers.
“His passage from the UK to Nigeria and back was at the expense of Nigerian tax payers,” he said.