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Crime

Probe: Buhari’s Minister, colleagues battle Tinubu’s Special Investigator over Emefiele

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Probe: Buhari’s Minister, colleagues battle Tinubu’s Special Investigator over Emefiele

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...move to stop extension of investigation to them

. Launch massive media war, smear campaign against Obazee

…as 259 anti-corruption Coalition urges Tinubu to protect Special Investigator’s life, disregard corrupt individuals, groups fighting back

As the Special Investigator, Jim Obazee rounds off his investigation of the Central Bank of Nigeria under its immediate past governor, Godwin Emefiele and commences the next round of his probe of the other Government Businesses, a prominent Minister under the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari (names withheld) and about four of his other former colleagues have allegedly launched a “media war” against the Special Investigator and his team with a view to frustrating and discouraging them from going ahead with the next phase of the ongoing probe.

This is just as a coalition of 259 anti-corruption, civil society and human rights groups, Coalition for Transparency and Economic Reforms (COTER) urged President Bola Tinubu to extend the duration of the work of the Special Investigator indefinitely to enable him and his team to do a thorough job in the overall interest of the country.

First News, however, learnt that the former Minister, who was said to have Buhari’s ears throughout his eight-year tenure, and his four other colleagues, are afraid that the next stage of the Special Investigator’s probe would unearth their atrocities while in government and even unmask them as collaborators with the embattled Emefiele, who is currently undergoing trial in court for various charges bothering on large scale corruption and wanton looting of the nation’s commonwealth via the apex bank.

Sources said they have therefore embarked on a “massive and ferocious media war” in collaboration with some Presidency officials and other top Federal Government functionaries to prevail on President Tinubu to stop the Special Investigator from going ahead with the next phase of his work or even halt the probe completely.

The Special Investigator and his team are about to conclude their probe of the CBN and the illegal acquisition of some commercial banks by certain individuals with the submission of their report to President Tinubu and now about to move to the next phase, which will involve the extension of invitations to individuals who may have questions to answer.

It was gathered that the Buhari Minister and his colleagues, however, decided to quickly move against Obazee after they got wind of a letter of summon being prepared by the office of the Special Investigator for the immediate past “prominent Minister” to appear for questioning over certain matters bothering on fraud while he was in office.

Their move, it was learnt, was to “quickly counter” the Special Investigator’s plan to invite them for the next phase of the probe.

Meanwhile, a coalition of 259 anti-corruption, civil society and human rights groups, Coalition for Transparency and Economic Reforms (COTER), has called on President Tinubu not to allow anyone or groups to rubbish the credibility already secured for his administration in the international community through the invaluable works of the Central Bank Special Investigator, Jim Obazee.

COTER said President Tinubu should not accede to the current shenanigans, malicious campaigns and unpatriotic requests by some individuals and groups in the country for the sack of the CBN Special Investigator.

Rather, the Coalition said the President should give an indefinite extension to the work of the Special Investigator and his team.

It stated that President Tinubu should have expected the current fight back by corruption through the campaign of calumny now being launched against the person and office of the CBN Special Investigator, Jim Obazee.

The group however said no matter how highly placed these individuals and groups behind the attack on Obazee are, the President should discountenance their “inappropriate requests and demands for the head of the Special Investigator” who had been conscientious in the national assignment given him to unearth the monumental corruption perpetrated by corrupt officials in the CBN and other government business entities in the past years.

COTER also urged President Tinubu to warn Presidency officials and other top Federal Government functionaries to steer clear of what the Special Investigator has been doing successfully since his appointment, which involves handling the very delicate and dangerous national assignment of investigating and recovery all the funds looted by powerful individuals from the CBN and other Government agencies.

COTER’s President, Dr Peter Chima Chukwu and General Secretary, Mallam Auta Ibrahim Koko, stated these in a statement in reaction to the allegations of high-handedness, undue intimidation and witch-hunt of top CBN officials and commercial banks executives by the Special Investigator and his team, whose mandate they alleged had since expired.

The coalition noted that the President should not give room for any intervention by any individual or groups in the functions of the Special Investigator.

According to them, “Obazee has successfully been laundering the image of this country and the President Bola Tinubu-led administration internationally through his bold and courageous work as CBN Special Investigator. So, some top Presidency and other top Government officials cannot now come and attempt to usurp that office or the Special Investigator’s role through the malicious campaigns and demands through these faceless groups, after Obazee has taken all the risks to achieve so much in recovering funds from the Federal Government’s coffers and the vaults of the CBN.

“These top Presidency and Federal Government officials should face their own jobs, which they’ve yet to excell in and discharge effectively. They should stop being meddlesome interlopers. Unfortunately, the jobs Mr President gave these Presidency and top Federal Government officials, they’ve not done well in the first place. Who gave them the mandate to be demanding the Special Investigator’s sack? Certainly, President Tinubu didn’t do that. Our belief is that President Tinubu should not allow his administration to be forced or coerced by some unpatriotic and corrupt elements in government to thread the ignoble path of the previous administration. At least, there should be some decency in government this time round under President Tinubu. These corrupt Presidency and Federal Government officials speaking through these faceless groups should be stopped from meddling in the work of the Special Investigator.

“But if they refuse to be called to order, COTER shall not hesitate to mobilise all the true civil society groups in Nigeria against all of them.

“We commend the Federal Government for fishing Obazee out for this onerous and Herculean job and we urge the President to adequately appreciate him with a special National honour/award.

“The Special Investigator should also rather be considered for higher national assignments because we have the confidence in him, that he’ll always deliver. Nigeria should not make the mistake of allowing other countries, international agencies and organisations who are watching events in Nigeria now with keen interest to snatch Obazee away from us. Nigeria seriously needs Obazee at this moment of our journey as a nation.”

COTER also urged President Tinubu to order the immediate trial of all the individuals and entities indicted so far through the investigations of the Special Investigator.

The group enjoined the President to initiate moves to recover the country’s stolen funds and properties being held by such indicted persons.

The coalition called on Tinubu to order the immediate handing over of all the indicted persons and entities to the anti-graft agencies for immediate trial.

It therefore warned the indicted persons to stop playing on the collective intelligence of Nigerians with their puerile defence of their looting of the nation’s commonwealth, having betrayed the confidence Nigerians reposed in them while they occupied public offices.

It accused them of sponsoring these faceless individuals and groups making false allegations against the Special Investigator in the media with a view to rubbishing his work in order to convince President Tinubu to stop him from further investigating them.

COTER stressed that the defence of the frauds and stealing of public funds by various indicted persons by these faceless individuals and groups masquerading as patriots should be completely disregarded by the President.

COTER said, “Emefiele and other indicted persons’ tactics to put up unnecessary defence are aimed at shifting the blame on former President Buhari to escape prosecution and recovery of looted funds from them. Infact, it’s all clear cases of corruption fighting back.

“All they are doing now is mere damage control. Unfortunately, it won’t fly with the Nigerian people, Government and the international community. They must all account for all their sins and transgressions against the Nigerian people.

“President Tinubu must not allow this matter to be swept under the carpet, Nigerian people and the international community are watching to see the outcome of all the investigations and how the report of the Special Investigator will be implemented.”

COTER further commended the Special Investigator, Jim Obazee, for a job well done.

The Coalition, which also gave kudos to President Tinubu for his courage, determination and tenacity, recommended Obazee for a special national honours and award for successfully discharging the onerous, dangerous and delicate national duty thrusted upon him by the President without entertaining any fear for his life.

It added, “Obazee should be singled out by the President as an incorruptible Nigerian who is sacrificing his personal pleasure, liberty to carry out the dangerous national assignment of investigating the rot at the CBN under Emefiele. Obazee is a selfless individual who should be highly commended and recognised for all his sacrifices. Inspite of all the threats to his life and that of his family members by the agents of the corrupt people he’s investigating, he has remained unshaken and undeterred in carrying out his assignment.

“We commend the Federal Government for fishing Obazee out for the job and we urge the President to adequately appreciate him with a special National honour/award.

“The Special Investigator should also be considered for higher national assignments because we have the confidence in him, that he’ll always deliver. Nigeria should not make the mistake of allowing other countries, international agencies and organisations who are watching events in Nigeria now with keen interest to snatch Obazee away from us. Nigeria seriously needs Obazee at this moment of our journey as a nation.”

(First news online)