Days after it invited and detained the spokesman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Olisa Metuh, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is still trying to find evidence against him to present in court.
The anti-graft agency arrested Metuh on Tuesday 6 January and claimed that it was investigating him over some money traced to him. But days after his arrest, the commission is still interrogating him instead of presenting the evidence it claimed it had against Nigeria’s main opposition party’s spokesman in court, the governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, said in a statement on Friday.
Fayose said “the EFCC appears to be operating a system in which an accused person is first arrested, detained endlessly while the anti-corruption agency goes about looking for evidence.”
He maintained his support for a genuine fight against corruption but challenged the EFCC to also act on petitions submitted to it against the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftains and President Buhari’s election sponsors.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Mr. Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose cautioned that nothing bad must happen to Metuh, adding that “the APC’s desperation to decimate and silence the opposition has dragged the Buhari-led government in the mud of lawlessness”.
“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,” Fayose explained.
Details about Metuh’s arrest are yet to be made public by the commission, but the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had condemned his prolonged detention, saying that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was using dictatorial means to silence the opposition.
Metuh and others earlier arrested would likely spend the weekend in detention because the anti-graft agency might not release the detainees until after charges had been prepared, local newspaper, The Punch, reported on Saturday.
The newspaper said the EFCC operatives were “still grilling the suspects as of the time of filing this report by 7.30 pm on Friday”, days or weeks after arresting them.
The Punch quoted a top EFCC operative as wondering “why the people were talking of granting bail to the suspects when the commission was still at the stage of interrogation with them”.
“Those people you are talking about are still being detained, they are facing interrogation.
“Nobody can tell you when they are going to be released, may be, that could come up after their charges have been prepared.
“This gives a strong indication that the Spokesman of the PDP, Olisah Metuh, will spend the weekend at the EFCC detention facility,” the newspaper quoted the operative as saying.
In other words, the EFCC was still trying to gather strong evidence against Metuh and others who have been in detention for weeks to present in court.
EFCC is still detaining the former military assistant to the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, a serving colonel, who is believed to have spent two weeks in detention without formal charges.
Also in detention, the newspaper reported, is “a German believed to have been engaged to facilitate the training of 750 Special Forces in Belarus who was picked up on December 28, 2015”.
He, also, is still waiting to face charges being prepared against him in court.
On Wednesday night, the EFCC arrested a former military administrator of Kaduna State, Jafaru Isah, also in relation to the ongoing investigation into the $2.1 billion arms procurement probe.
Isah, a close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari, was the governorship candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change in Kano State, which Buhari founded in 2011. EFCC has also not charged him to court.
The PDP had accused Buhari of going after opposition members and perceived enemies in his fight against corruption, rather than an all out fight against corruption. Buhari had rejected the allegations, saying that no one was above the law and he would pick anyone found to be corrupt.
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