Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Friday knocked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the continued detention of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh.
Metuh was arrested on Tuesday over allegation that the sum of N1.4 billion was transferred from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser into a company, Destra, linked to him.
Speaking through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Fayose accused the EFCC of “operating a system in which an accused person is first arrested, detained endlessly while the anti-corruption agency goes about looking for evidence.”
Fayose, who repeated his support for a genuine fight against corruption, warned the EFCC that no harm must befall Metuh.
He said: “In saner climes, you don’t arrest people for alleged fraud and start to look for evidence to prosecute them.
Rather, before you arrest anyone for fraud, anti-corruption agencies must have established a prima facie case and arresting the suspect will only be to enable for his or her arraignment in court.
“However, what we are witnessing in Nigeria today is a situation whereby the EFCC will arrest PDP leaders, humiliate them by subjecting them to media trial, detain them for weeks in the process of trying to force them to make statements during which the commission will be looking for evidence.
“For instance, in the case of Metuh, we are being told that the EFCC is insisting that he must write statements and one begins to wonder if it has now become mandatory for an accused to write statements in law enforcement agent’s custody. Shouldn’t the EFCC have simply charged Metuh to court based on its own evidence? Or is Metuh’s statement the evidence the EFCC requires to prosecute him?
“The international community, especially the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), European Union (EU) and others are put on notice on this condemnable act of arresting and detaining opposition leaders by agents of the Buhari-led government before fishing for evidence.”
Fayose repeated his claim that President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade targets only members of the opposition.
He accused the President of protecting certain members of the ruling All Progressives Congress in spite of several petitions written against them.
“If President Buhari did not wait for any petition to move against PDP chieftains, asking people to come forward with allegations of corruption against APC chieftains, especially those who sponsored President Buhari’s election is clearly hypocritical.
“Most importantly, that the EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu even said the commission do not have any petition against APC chieftains when indeed there are loads of petitions against ministers serving in Buhari’s government and other notable APC chieftains goes to show the hypocrisy of the fight against corruption.
“It is even more hypocritical and anti-democratic for the President to have turned himself to the accuser, prosecutor and judge, carrying on as if those he accused of corruption have already been convicted,” the governor said.
Speaking through his Special Adviser (Media), Uche Anichukwu, Ekweremadu described the continued detention of Metuh as “unhealthy” for the country’s democracy.
Ekweremadu decried what he termed the “trampling of the opposition and total disregard for the rule of law in the guise of anti-corruption war”.
Like Fayose, Ekweremadu reaffirmed the PDP’s support for a genuine anti-graft crusade.
He, however, decried a situation where such crusade became a calculated attempt to decimate and silence the opposition, while members of the ruling party with serious corruption allegations went about their businesses.
The deputy president of the Senate expressed fear that Nigeria was fast descending into “authoritarianism”.
The statement said: “The continued detention of the PDP mouthpiece was an attempt to gag the opposition and, therefore, unhealthy for democracy.
“An anti-graft trap that catches only members of the opposition and those with axe to grind with the government of the day is compromised.”
Ekweremadu called on the citizenry to denounce and resist the prevailing situation where people were held in custody against the directives of the courts and laws of the land.
Ekweremadu pointed out that there would be no justice without the rule of law.