The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA has requested President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly to rein in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to avoid media razzmatazz but methodically and professionally carry out competent forensic investigation and initiate court actions against erring banks in the country so as not to destroy the stability of that sensitive sector.
Making this call in a statement issued on Thursday by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, the Rights group decried the sensational media trial of Managing Directors of two leading banks namely; the Fidelity Bank plc and Skye Bank Plc, stressing that the anti-graft agency must stop sending bank depositors on panic withdrawals capable of collapsing the banking institutions and causing mass unemployment.
The group claimed that there is a sinister regional agenda by the EFCC in the “arrests bonanza in the banks which has necessitated the sudden rush by banks to appoint Managing Directors of Northern extraction,” even as it accused the “EFCC of targeting only banks with large concentration of Southern shareholders thereby sending out a signal that the only way to survive and escape EFCC witch-hunt is to appoint Northern born bankers as Managing Directors.”
HURIWA went on to question the integrity of the ongoing recruitment process in EFCC “which is reportedly skewed to favour the North.”
The statement reads, “there is now a general atmosphere of panic and fear in the minds of hundreds of thousands of bank depositors not only in these banks now targeted by the current acting Chairman of EFCC in the probe of the use to which the immediate past administration expended the so-called Security Votes but generally most Nigerians now think the ferocious attacks on the banks by the anti graft agency and the avalanche of sponsored but extensively damaging media stories dished out from top insiders within EFCC concerning alleged high profile money laundering offences could mean that their deposits aren’t secured.
“HURIWA recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, and some officials for allegedly receiving $115m from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
“HURIWA also recalled that media report stated that the EFCC also arrested the bank’s Head of Operations, Mr. Martins Izuogbe, for his role in the alleged scam, which the anti-graft agency described as unprecedented and that the funds were distributed to former ruling Peoples Democratic Party for the last presidential election.
“HURIWA tasked EFCC to look at the ways APC’S Presidential election campaign was funded and not focused exclusively on the opposition party as if it is on a mission to erect a one party state. HURIWA charged Nigerians to stop any attempt to foist a totalitarian regime on Nigeria.
“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in another development invited the Managing Director of Skye Bank Plc, Mr. Timothy Oduntayo, and the bank’s chief compliance officer over the bank’s deliberate refusal to transfer N6.3 billion lodged in two separate accounts with it to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“HURIWA said these sensational and legally unproven and untested cases been celebrated only on the pages of newspapers by EFCC through a suspected well funded Public relation channel if unchecked will inevitably affect the health of the banking sector.”