Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, on Wednesday, September 7, 2011, debunked claims that the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan is under any form of investigation by the anti-graft agency. She said such a report was mischievous. Waziri made this clarification while receiving representatives of the Women Empowering and Enriching Lives (WEEL), an Abuja based Non-Governmental Organization, who paid her a courtesy visit at the EFCC’s corporate headquarters in Abuja .
The clarification is coming on the heels of renewed media reports that the anti-graft agency had on September 11, 2006, seized $13.5 million dollars ( USD ) from Mrs. Patience Jonathan, when she was then wife of the Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan. According to Waziri, the visit of the NGO provides her an opportunity to respond to several enquiries she had been getting on an alleged pending case against Mrs. Jonathan. “Let me state clearly that the Commission will not allow itself to be used to drag innocent people’s names into crimes, cases or allegations they know nothing about. In this particular case, I have read my predecessor say in media interviews in September 2010 that Mrs. Jonathan was not in any way involved in any case of money laundering investigated by the EFCC under him. I have thereafter checked our records and cannot find any case of money laundering against Mrs. Jonathan or the President himself. So, each time I get an enquiry or read about this, I often wonder where this is coming from”
Waziri maintained that if the person said to have investigated Patience Jonathan for money laundering had as far back as September 2010 disclaimed this, she wonders why people are still referring to it. She says the Commission does not have in any account or records where $13.5 million was recovered from Mrs. Jonathan in 2006. “We should learn to separate the truth from blackmail. Our society can only thrive on justice and fair play if we uphold the right values and shun the politics of pulling innocent people down”, she added.
She maintained that she would not allow the Commission to be used in dragging innocent people’s names into allegations they know nothing about. “I think that is criminal and a big sin. A good name is better than silver and gold. People work hard to build their names and image and then to overnight come and cast this damage or scandalise to hunt someone, I think, is a great sin and I don’t allow it. Each time we receive petitions, when it is not anonymous, we look for the writer to come and adopt it. But if it is anonymous, we don’t put it in the waste bin, we carry out covert enquiries to see whether there is any substance in it. If there is substance, then yes, we are looking for whistle blowers so we do something about it, but we do not for the sake of politics or the sake of sensationalism drag peoples names in the mud. I know I have been a victim of such and I know what it means and what it takes.”, she stressed.
She also said that when she took up the job, the late president Yardua called her and asked if she knew what it entailed to handle the job.”he had told me that my name will be rubbished, I will be scandalized, people will write all sort of rubbish against me, tissues of lies will be concurred against me. He asked if I realized that and I said yes, I have been through it before and I now”, Waziri explained.
She said that there is no record anywhere in the Commission that Mrs. Jonathan is under any investigation; adding that when the former governor of Delta state, James Ibori allegedly offered $15 million bribe to the former boss of EFCC, the money was kept and remains intact at the Central Bank of Nigeria , CBN.
“This is why in the EFCC today, only the mischievous will say the EFCC under my leadership witch-hunts, or drags peoples’ names in the mud or violates rule of law in our operations. I am proud to say that in the last three years, we have done much more and achieved great feats without operating outside the ambit of the law”, she said.
“For us in EFCC, we will continue to promote the right values, focus on our mandate and abstain from tendencies that will not help the course of a better society. This we cannot do alone, and that is why we continue to enlist as many patriotic citizens and groups like yours to join in our crusade for good governance through a vigorous and masses- driven fight against economic crimes including corruption.”
While welcoming the visitors to her office Mrs. Waziri said she was delighted whenever she has women groups visiting her like this; “maybe because I am a woman or because I am just sensitive to women rights and well being. This is why I support the objective of Women Empowering and Enriching Lives (WEEL) for its commitment to empowering women towards sustainable development.”
“Without sounding feminist, I am bold to say that women in positions of authority are not only achievers as instances abound around us but their empowerment secures the future of children, families and the society as a whole. I am equally glad to note that women in authority are reputable for maintaining high standards and playing by the rules”, she added.. Jennifer Gbeshi Ehimika, the group’s coordinator, said the visit was to seek partnership with the EFCC.