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Takai’s EFCC arrest: Questions for answers

Others arrested in the same vein were the Permanent Secretary,  Ministry of Local Government Affairs, Alhaji Abdulmalik Yakubu, Chairmen of Nassarawa, Gwale, Municipal and Tarauni…

Others arrested in the same vein were the Permanent Secretary,  Ministry of Local Government Affairs, Alhaji Abdulmalik Yakubu, Chairmen of Nassarawa, Gwale, Municipal and Tarauni Local Government Councils, Alhaji Nasiru Gawuna, Alhaji Abbas Sani Abbas, Alhaji Salisu Maje Ahmed Gwangwazo and Alhaji Amanallah Ahmed Mohammed respectively, according to newspaper reports.

The spokesman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Mr Femi Babafemi, has since confirmed the arrest of these gentlemen even as he disclosed that the rest of the local councils are being investigated on account of the same petition.  

But while the investigation is ongoing, there are several issues that have been propped up by the arrest of the suspects. These questions are so democratically grave that they have the capacity to undermine the efforts of the corruption fighting agency, except their answers are of superior competence.

Isn’t it instructive that the writers of the petition are, in fact, different from the man, Alhaji Abdulkareem Daiyaibu, who has since claimed the authorship of the petition and in fact, had granted interviews in this regard?

Secondly, the petition to the EFCC, dated 15th April, 2010, from the Movement for Justice in Nigeria, Kano State, was signed by two abbreviated names: A. A Muhammed, the Chairman and A. S. Yau, the Secretary. Even one will wishfully ignore that in bureaucracy, abbreviated names are not sufficient identifications for complaints and petitions, one is touched that anti- graft agency could act decisively on a petition with such gross limitations.

Interestingly, I waited anxiously to hear from Mr Babafemi that the suspects were invited but they failed to personally appear in the office of the EFCC to honour their invitation. At least, going by the tradition of the body as we know it, EFCC will invite first and will only swoop on a suspect if he failed to appear or if he defaults by any means. But in the present instance, this was not the case. I equally waited to hear that maybe one of the suspects is a man of doubtful record, who could not be trusted to heed a simple call to clarify the administrative decisions he took in the past or present. But EFCC has not said so.

And I wonder: what will have caused the EFCC to act instinctively in this manner. And again, I wonder in disdain: Where on earth is the position of the Nigerian constitution that presumes all of us innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law? Or are we back to the dark days of yore?

The most disturbing question that emerged from the troubling display in Kano , last week, is the question of to what purpose is the arrest and subsequent bail of the suspects if it can be done more decently? One cannot help but to ask why the entire fanfare that attended the arrest of the suspects?

Of course, some discussants have argued that given the profile of one of the suspects, as the anointed aspirant of the All Nigeria Peoples Party in the state, the whole arrest is sure to touch nerves and is therefore, bound to cause a stir.  But the question here is:  if the EFCC are cognizance of the delicate profile of the suspect and the colossal consequence his arrest might cause him, couldn’t they have been more careful, just in case he turned out to be innocent? What if the aspirant, in this case, Alhaji Sagir Takai, is innocent of whatever allegations is leveled against him, will the EFCC pay for the damage caused by its mode of arrest?  

Having argued from a legal perspective so far, one aspect of the arrest saga that has refused to fade is the political angle. Could this arrest be the sour fruits of the internal rivalry of the All Nigeria People Party (ANPP), some have questioned? Or could it be the handiwork of the rival party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state? We may never get to know the true face of the owls in the darkness of the night. But we can only wait for it to bare its face at dawn.

Yet, it is instructive to acknowledge that the same crude tactic of dent him, destroy him, and bring him –down at all cost was deployed on Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, in the wake of the 2007 polls. Then, we were treated to the drama of assets declaration with the Code of Conduct Bureau. With this in mind, observers of Kano politics are beginning to worry that history is set to repeat itself. That the same fabulous claims and tales by moonlight is about to berth in the land.  

But before one may proceed, there are hypothetical questions to address. The first of them is in the event that Alhaji Sagir Salihu Takai is messed up by these characters, who are the likely beneficiaries of the plot? It is obvious that the moribund Movement for Justice in Nigeria which provided cover for the hatchet job has been dead since a decade ago and might have been simply used to stir up the present confusion. Thus, the most likely beneficiary, in my view, is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, who incidentally is the government in power at the centre.  This singular link has since challenged the sincerity of the whole push to investigate the councils in the state at these last minutes of an elections period. If the PDP wants a fight for the state as it had promised, must it go through the back doors to throw up confusion in the camp of their rivals? The people of Kano State are watching.

Nigerians deserve a fair and fearless crusader in its anti-graft battle. But in doing so, the rules of fair engagement must prevail. And the question this whole drama has thrown up is:  Are we not treated to the same old tactics of the Ribadu era? -Arrest, condemn and then investigate the suspect with a fault finding mindset?

Thank Allah; the man at the center of it all is taking it in his stride. In a recent interview in the newspaper, he said his predicament is a normal thing, while adding that it was not a serious thing that should make his supporters panic. He consented to the fact that he was invited in his capacity as one who held sway as the Commissioner for Local Governments, when all the projects in question in the petition were executed. The Commissioner said investigation into the matter was still on but added that the matter would come to pass. What else can one add to this apart from letting the matter pass as a sacrifice for democracy?

The writer, Usman Mohammed Bebeji wrote from Nassarawa quarters in Kano

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