In a significant development, two prominent Northern groups, the Northern Elders Progressive Forum (NEPF) and the Northern Professionals Development Group (NPDG), have raised concerns over what they perceive as bias against Northern politicians in recent corruption investigations conducted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Leadership News learnt that, The NEPF and NPDG expressed their apprehensions in a joint communique issued after a two-day meeting on national issues. They singled out a recent report by the PUNCH newspaper titled “EFCC Revives 13 Ex-Governors’ N772bn Fraud Cases,” which implicated several Northern politicians in corruption allegations.
According to the communique, signed by NEPF Chairman Dr. Usman Sani and read by NPDG Secretary Comrade Yusuf Abubakar Dingiyadi, the groups are dismayed by the publication, stating that it has caused embarrassment to the politicians, their families, political associates, and the nation at large. They highlighted concerns about the presumption of innocence, emotional distress, and the erosion of the rule of law resulting from the publication.
While acknowledging the EFCC’s efforts in combating corruption, the groups cautioned against allowing the commission to be manipulated for political vendettas. They expressed concerns about certain political entities exploiting media platforms to tarnish the image of individuals, potentially undermining the EFCC’s objectives.
In light of these concerns, the NEPF and NPDG recommended that the EFCC compel petitioners and accusers to publicly commit to paying compensation if the accused individuals are found innocent after investigation and court proceedings. They urged the EFCC leadership to denounce biased publications and ensure that investigations are not influenced by political motives.
The groups also highlighted instances of serving political leaders being targeted in the media, citing the case of Dr. Bello Matawalle, who they described as having served Zamfara State meritoriously and transparently. They called on the EFCC to take action against those sponsoring malicious campaigns aimed at tarnishing the reputations of political leaders.
The NEPF and NPDG emphasized the importance of upholding the principles of justice, fairness, and due process in the fight against corruption. They urged the EFCC to resist external pressures and and remain steadfast in its commitment to combating corruption impartially and effectively.
The statement by these Northern groups adds a new dimension to the ongoing discourse surrounding corruption investigations in Nigeria, highlighting the need for transparency, accountability, and fairness in the process.
As the EFCC navigates these challenges, it faces mounting pressure to uphold its mandate while ensuring that justice is served without prejudice or bias.