A coalition of society organisations has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to publish the criminal charges against a former Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison–Madueke and other persons indicted for money laundering.
Others indicted are former NNPC and commercial banks officials Ben Otti, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Stanley Lawson, Lanre Adesanya and Dauda Lawal.
The Northern Youths in Defence of Democracy and Justice (NYDDJ) disclosed this in a statement signed by its convener Abba Suleiman after an emergency meeting in Abuja on Sunday.
EFCC spokesperson Wilson Uwajuren recently denied in a statement that the commission had dropped the criminal charge against Diezani and others.
He said the EFCC took a prosecutorial decision to split the initial 14-count charge to enable separate arraignment of the defendants.
The CSOs, however, said if the charges are still in place, the anti-graft agency should be bold enough to publish the charge sheet.
The EFCC, according to the civil society groups, labored to justify why it withdrew charges against all the accused persons and retained only Mr. Lawal, as the sole accused person. “The EFCC is trying to counteract a court process with a verbal press statement,” they said.
The statement said withdrawing charges against Diezani and others while retaining that of Mr Lawal is counter-productive to the anti-graft war of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Witch-hunting, selective prosecution, cherry-picking accused persons and preferential treatment of suspects, will only further confirm the widely held view that EFCC has derailed from its initial mandate,” the civil societies said.
The statement reads: “We stand with the reports that the charges against Diezani and Otti have been withdrawn, as is clearly shown on the face of the charge sheet which bears only Lawal’s name.
“We challenge EFCC to publish the charges and controvert what we have said here. If EFCC claims that the charges against Diezani, Lawson, Adesanya, and Otti are still in place, we ask them to show us the charge sheet.
“Our advice to EFCC is that they should retrace their steps and revert to the spirit of the EFFC (Establishment) Act, where the organisation was envisaged to be one that will be run devoid of sentiments and personal considerations in fighting financial crime.“
The CSOs advice the commission to preserve its credibility locally and internationally, adding that “the fight against corruption will be greatly compromised if it proceeds with the withdrawal of corruption charges against suspected perpetrators of one the monumental corruption cases in Nigeria’s history.”