- Category: Politics
- Published on Saturday, 28 August 2010 10:12
- Written by The Nation
- Hits: 2557
NO fewer than 54 serving and former political office holders are to be prevented from contesting the 2011 poll by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other security agencies.
These include those who are at present standing trial. Others are those who have their cases already investigated and completed. To this end, the Anti-Corruption Coordinating Forum (ACCF) would soon be reconvened, like the case in 2007, to screen the list.
The ACCF comprises the EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau, SSS and the Nigeria Police Force. Investigation by The Nation revealed that the EFCC had already compiled a list of past and present political office holders with corruption charges against them for consideration by the ACCF.
According to a document obtained by our correspondent, some of those who are affected include 14 ex-governors, five ex-ministers, two senators, five members of the House of Representatives and others alike.
But the names were kept under wraps for security reasons at press time. It was, however, gathered that the EFCC and other security agencies might not go public with the list of those affected.
A reliable source in the commission, who spoke in confidence, said: "Altogether, over 110 high-profile suspects are standing trial. Out of the accused persons, about 54 are politically exposed persons, including ex-governors, former ministers, senators and members of the House of Representatives.
"They also include many serving and ex-commissioners in some states like Kogi, Oyo, Ogun, Adamawa, Enugu, Taraba, Plateau, Abia, Bauchi, Sokoto and Kebbi.
"The ACCF will soon meet for the discreet screening of aspirants and candidates that may later emerge for parties. No candidate standing trial for corruption will be allowed to contest.
"At the end of the exercise, the EFCC and the ACCF will now send an advisory to the concerned political parties and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on why the affected political office holders should not be fielded.
"We won’t go about it like the case in 2007 where a list will be published but members of the ACCF will serve as gatekeepers and stand on the point of law why certain candidates cannot contest.
"You see, in the nomination form for election, there is a column where you have to say whether you have a criminal case against you or if you have been convicted. Any denial can lead to disqualification by the court.
"Any party that goes ahead to present any candidate on corruption-related list does so at its own risk. "Under the EFCC Act 2004, any of its officers can go to court to swear to affidavit on why a candidate cannot be fielded by a party in line with Section 32(4) of the new Electoral Act.
"Also, Nigerians are free to challenge the nomination of any candidate by a party. The court is empowered to disqualify any candidate." Section 32(4) of the Act says: "Any person may apply to the commission for a copy of the nomination form, affidavit and any other document submitted by a candidate at an election and the commission shall, upon payment of a prescribed fee, issue such person with a certified copy of document within 14 days.
"Any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by a candidate in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false may file a suit at the High Court of a state or Federal High Court against such person seeking a declaration that the information contained in the affidavit is false.
"If the court determines that any of the information contained in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false, the court shall issue an order disqualifying the candidate from contesting." The Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, had on Thursday said the commission and other anti-corruption agencies would not allow corrupt elements to be elected in 2011.
She said: "Legally, I will say we are empowered to look into this issue.
"Even though in the law court, someone isn’t convicted till after the trial, we know that some of these elements are responsible for the cases being stalled in court and for obvious reasons.
"You see, if we are to work in concert, I mean if there is cooperation among the Police, the Code of Conduct Bureau, the State Security Services, and the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), there is no way corrupt persons would be fielded.
"We would be networking and pass information. And then based on security reports, these elements could be checked. "So you can imagine what is happening. How do we allow these people to come back and say that they are going to be the leaders? I mean, the world will laugh at us.
"So, we will use the issue that they have a pending case and that they are standing trial for obvious reasons and we are not going to allow them.
"I have seen some of them producing posters and their hand bills. We will see how they will work that one out. It is not fair, it is not just fair. Some of the cases are internationally known. Assets have been seized in the US , the UK and you come up to say that you want to be a senator or a governor? It does not just work like that. We should not make ourselves a laughing stock."