The Independent and Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission has launched an investigation into alleged corrupt practices of the controversial former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Farida Waziri, sources in the ICPC familiar with the matter have told PREMIUM TIMES.
The ICPC’s investigation of Mrs. Waziri, this newspaper learnt, is connected to several petitions written on her involvement in alleged corrupt practices while in office.
The former anti-corruption chief had a torrid time in office as she oscillated between one corruption-related scandal to the other.
“It is a broad investigation into her tenure and what appears to be very disturbing evidence of corruption,” a top investigator of the ICPC said.
Mrs. Waziri, who chaired the EFCC from May 2008 to December 2011, had been enmeshed in controversy right from her inception when she was accused of standing as a surety to indicted former governor of Benue State, George Akume, who was investigated for monumental corruption by Mrs. Waziri’s predecessor in office, Nuhu Ribadu.
Her appointment as anti-corruption chief was reportedly at the instance of some former governors, including Bukola Saraki, former Kwara State Governor; James Ibori, former Delta State Governor; and Mr. Akume.
These former governors, particularly Mr. Ibori wielded enormous powers during the administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua and played a major role in the controversial removal of Ribadu from office.
Corruption in office
Some of the alleged illegalities carried out by Mrs. Waziri while in office include issuing official clearance letters to former governors who were indicted or being investigated for corruption by her predecessor. These include Mr. Ibori who has since been convicted for theft and money laundering in the UK, and Victor Attah, former
governor of Akwa-Ibom State, who is also wanted in the UK.
Other cases include the controversial authorization given Victor Uwajeh, an Abuja based businessman, to act a consultant for the EFCC to help investigate cases of politically exposed persons (PEP). Mr. Uwajeh subsequently used the authorization to blackmail several politicians and businessman, according to the EFCC, and is at present being prosecuted.
Mrs. Waziri was also accused by a lawyer, Chima Ejekwolu, of demanding 10 per cent of money the commission was to help recover from some fraudsters who duped his clients. Mr. Ejekwolu had a good relationship with Mrs. Waziri until he was charged to court by the EFCC for trying to defraud his clients using the commission’s name.
The various controversies and allegations of corruption surrounding Mrs. Waziri made it difficult for the EFCC under her tenure to get the required co-operation from international donors and partners.
Former American Ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Sanders, dissatisfied with Mrs. Waziri’s roles in Nigeria’s anti-corruption war, walked out of a meeting with the
then Foreign Affairs Minister, Ojo Madueke, because of Mrs. Waziri’s presence.
Her tenure by as the EFCC boss was also criticized by several Nigerians and civil society groups as one that saw a plunge in Nigeria’s anti-corruption effort.
Opening can of worms
The investigation of Mrs. Waziri by the ICPC, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, may confirm several of the allegations already in public domain.
“You know there were several allegations and petitions against her, this may be the opportunity to confirm them,” a senior official of the ICPC stated.
The ICPC spokesman Folu Olamiti could however not confirm if the investigation of Mrs. Waziri had commenced. Mr. Olamiti asked to be given time (till Monday) to confirm from the Commission’s Chairman, Ekpo Nta.