[EDITORIAL] Military officer and theft of 10.9 billion naira

Recently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) released an updated list of assets seized from an unnamed “senior military officer”. For most people familiar with the operations of the anti-corruption agency, this decision was proof that under the new leadership, the commission is preparing to prosecute those who plunge their hands into the public until they regurgitate what they ate corruptly.

While the decision to expose the sleaze is laudable, it’s important that the agency do all the hugging and reveal the identity of the mysterious military officer. That in itself will sound a note of warning to like-minded people that there is no longer a hiding place for any public officer, including those in the military.

In the opinion of this newspaper, the revelation is breathtaking if not totally breathtaking that a single officer can acquire assets worth N10.9 billion spread across the country. Yet, we believe that since the confiscation was ordered by the court, Nigerians deserve to know who this officer is. The fact that the matter is before the courts makes it a matter of public interest.

This newspaper, in previous editorials on the issue of security guards turning the security situation in the country into an industry, we have argued that the government has a duty to the nation to fish out the bad eggs and set an example. It is common knowledge that the insecurity in the country has lasted so long because the security agents do not fight to win it and end it, but to use it to improve their own pecuniary interests. For them, self-aggrandizement is the name of the game.

By requiring the EFCC to release the officer’s name and accomplices, if any, we are raising the likelihood of subterfuge in order to prevent it. We are aware of previous cases involving the EFCC in which it was alleged that reclaimed properties had not been properly accounted for. Some of them were also allegedly criminally diverted or fraudulently bought up by the same scam artist through fronts.

What is so disconcerting in this case where the EFCC is dragging its feet on this need to make the name of this military officer public is that, so far, the agency is celebrating such large recoveries. We remember the case of a former inspector general of the police, Tafa Balogun. He was even handcuffed and dragged on the ground in public. At that time, then EFCC President, Nuhu Ribadu was accused of going too far but it served as a demonstration on his part to alert everyone that there would be no sacred cow .

EFCC secures N3.7 billion property confiscation of military officer

In addition, there are examples of governors, senators and other officials whose cases have been made public. In fact, some of them are still serving prison sentences. So, we ask again, what is so special about this military officer that his name cannot be mentioned.

The EFCC must strive to be circumspect in its actions and public behavior so as not to caricature the fight against economic and financial crimes. They should also be aware that there are already innuendoes in the public space regarding the agency’s selective justice regime.

Part of the agency’s duties is to ensure that no one benefits from the proceeds of crime. This implies that anyone who is arrested and found guilty by a competent court of acts prejudicial to the public interest is, to that extent, a criminal who should have no claim to decency, however described.

The fact that the EFCC has stated that the owner of said properties is a military officer makes it all the more curious. Nigerians are interested in knowing who this military officer is. By the way, why was his prosecution protected by secrecy?

The EFCC is a guru agency when it comes to media trials of suspects. How come there was no mention of this case in the media until it reached the asset forfeiture stage? It is trivial to note that the EFCC is mandated by law not to protect the identity of those who have committed economic and financial crimes. Engaging in this, in itself, is aiding and abetting crime. The rational thing to do is for the anti-corruption agency to publish the name of the military officer who carried out this heist against the country.

We can’t go on like this if we really want to clean up the system. It is not enough for the property to be confiscated. The offender must be made to face the full wrath of the law to have a deterrent effect on others. The EFCC must expedite the process of exposing the identity of this military officer who amassed so much ill-gotten wealth at the expense of the rest of us. Nearly 11 billion naira are at stake here. And that may not be all. Nigerians have a right to know who did this and why he is about to get away with it.

Comments are closed.