A non-governmental organisation, Integrity Group, has ascribed the ongoing trial of former Head of Service of the Federation (HOS), Mr. Steve Oronsaye, to persecution, because of a report he wrote when he was still in service, which sought to merge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with other anti-graft agencies.
According to the National Co-ordinator and Secretary of Integrity Group, James Alo and Aliu Sanni, respectively, a report written by Oronsaye committee when he was HOS and Chairman, Presidential Commitee on the Rationalisation and Restructuring of the Civil Service, had sought the merger of the EFCC with the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
The report also sought the autonomy of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) in line with Nigeria’s agreement with international anti-graft and anti-money laundering agencies. NFIU is presently a unit in EFCC and the largest international funding to the EFCC is because of NFIU, the group noted.
Alo and Sanni wonder why the EFCC would exhume a case which had been investigated and which cleared Oronsaye of any wrong doing.
“The EFCC had concluded its investigation as far back as 2010, while the suspects were also arraigned in 2011 and even got judgement against one of the suspects in 2013 before the commission reopened the case based on additional statement from a witness. We wonder at the desperation of EFCC to punish this man”.
The body noted that it was lack of substance in the case against Oronsaye that raised the ire of Justice Olasumbo Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), High Court, during the last sitting of the court, over the failure of the EFCC in filing its amended charges as requested.
Integrity Group recalled that Oronsaye was “the one that started the investigation into pension fraud when he was Head of Service. He was also the one that set up the Pension Reform Task Force team. He was the one that submitted the report of the task force to EFCC and ICPC for further investigation. If he was guilty, would he now wants to expose himself by inviting the agencies to conduct further investigations?”
The group therefore called on the federal government to protect those who were being unnecessarily persecuted in the words of the Catholic archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, that the anti-corruption war should not be seen as a persecution of people who had stepped on powerful toes while in government.