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Sonala Olumhense Should Apologise to EFCC

The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been drawn to an article by Sonala Olumhense entitled, “Fear of Responsibility” which was…

The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been drawn to an article by Sonala Olumhense entitled, “Fear of Responsibility” which was published in The Punch and Daily Trust newspapers of Sunday, October 3, 2021.  

The respected syndicated columnist in the ill-tempered piece put the Abdulrasheed Bawa leadership of the EFCC to the sword over demonstrably false claims that the agency failed to submit its Annual Report to the National Assembly by September 30 2021 as demanded by law.  

This supposed failure, in Olumhense’s estimation, is evidence that the EFCC was scared of accountability and therefore lacks the moral high ground to demand the same of citizens.

Shed of its sophistry, Olumhense’s claim about EFCC’s failure to submit its annual report to the National Assembly by September 30 is false. The Commission has duly fulfilled its obligation to the National Assembly in this regard as the Annual Report was transmitted to the National Assembly on the 30th of September, 2021, as the Commission has always done since 2003.

It is curious that a journalist of Olumhense’s experience made no attempt to verify his fact before publishing. In this instance, he neither sought to know from the Commission whether it had submitted the annual report nor did he verify from the National Assembly whether it was in receipt of the report. Had he done so, he would have saved himself the embarrassment of an article that is as irredeemably flawed as it is damaging, especially for Olumhense’s reputation and those of the newspapers that did not bother to fact-check his tendentious piece on the EFCC.  

Apparently, Olumhense appears so fixated in building a false case against Bawa and the EFCC that he mistook the absence of ceremony in the fulfillment of this statutory requirement as evidence of non-compliance.

Section 37 of the EFCC Establishment Act, 2004, states, that “the Commission shall, not later than 30th September in each year, submit to the National Assembly, a report of its activities during the immediately preceding year and shall include in such report the audited account of the Commission.” The law does not mandate a ceremony as part of the submission obligation. Nowhere in that law is it stated that EFCC cannot submit its annual report until the full complement of local and international media beam footage of the submission ceremony to Olumhense where he is waiting somewhere in the US.

But sadly, nothing, not even sacred facts can restrain Mr. Olumhense as he reached for EFCC’s jugular: “The EFCC submitted its first report—and its last—in 2006. This means that by last week, the commission had flouted this reporting requirement several times, aided and abetted by a complicit National Assembly”, he wrote. And then, the respected syndicated columnist makes another bizarre claim that the EFCC Act is not on the Commission’s website because, in his interpretation, the EFCC does not want people to know about its September 30 reporting obligation.

To be charitable to him, these are completely false claims. The truth is that since the Commission was established in 2003, it has never defaulted, not even once, in submitting its Annual Report to the National Assembly, by or before the 30th of September every year. Even in the year, it commenced operation after its inauguration in April 2003, the EFCC still submitted an Annual Report to the National Assembly before the 30th of September, 2003.

As for the claim that the Commission’s Establishment Act was missing from its website, a visit to the EFCC website, www.efccnigeria.org will expose Olumhense’s mischief as the law had been a resource item on the platform for several years.

It has become a yearly ritual for Olumhense to castigate the Commission over the false claim of non-submission of its Annual Report, using hopelessly false and jaundiced arguments.

It does appear that the respected columnist has left September 30 empty in his diary as a date to bash the EFCC, regardless of contrary evidence.

And despite the best efforts of the commission to educate him, he has stubbornly refused to be rescued from the trap of falsehood he set for himself. He is fixated and appears irredeemably lost to promoting falsehood about the Commission.

An ignorant columnist, especially one with a famous name is a danger to society. All the gibberish about EFCC Annual Report has left readers of Olumhense’s column across the world misinformed. If this misadventure is reflective of his weekly interventions on national affairs, it is safe to conclude that the columnist poses a dire threat to our collective intellectual health.

He owes Mr. Bawa, the EFCC, and indeed the millions of Nigerians he deceived with that fit-for-the-dustbin piece on the EFCC, an unreserved apology.

For the avoidance of doubt, Mr. Olumhense,

· EFCC submitted its 2021 Annual Report, right on schedule to the two chambers of the Nigerian National Assembly;

· EFCC has never been in default in the submission of Annual Reports to the National Assembly; and

· The EFCC Act is on the Commission’s Website.

These are verifiable facts, and facts they say, is sacred.

Olumhense and the newspapers that lent him their platforms to ventilate falsehood against the EFCC are hereby challenged to fact-check these facts and then, have the courtesy and professional integrity to apologise.

Wilson Uwujaren, Head, Media & Publicity, EFCC

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