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EFCC identifies, punishes officer who leaked ‘Obiano video’ as Anambra groups express outrage

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Former Governor Willie Obiano

Following the serious backlash over the leak of the video of the former governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, who is in its custody, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Monday, said it had begun disciplinary action against one of its officers for leaking the video.

In the 12-second clip that has gone viral across social media platforms, Obiano, who was dressed in a short and a white shirt, was seen sipping water from a bottle in a closed room presumed to be in EFCC custody. He was also discussing with an unidentified person in the video.

EFCC disclosed this in a statement titled, “EFCC Subjects Officer Behind Obiano’s Video Leak to Disciplinary Action”.

The statement reads in part: “The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has been drawn to a trending video showing the former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano in the custody of the Commission.

“The Commission wishes to distance itself from the said video which is completely at variance with the established Standard Operating Procedure of the EFCC.

“A discreet investigation ordered upon discovery of the leak has revealed the errant officer behind the odious act and he is currently being subjected to appropriate disciplinary action.”

However, the Commission neither named the errant officer nor the punishment meted out to him.

Anambra groups outraged by the video leakage.

In a statement on Monday, Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council (ANSTRC) accused the EFCC of deliberately leaking the video to cause Obiano and the people of the state maximum embarrassment.

The traditional rulers asked President Muhammadu Buhari, and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to call the EFCC to order regarding the “appalling condition that Chief Willie Obiano is being subjected to.”

They also called on the EFCC to “treat Chief Obiano with due civility and immediately restore him to his personal comfort whilst expeditiously working to conclude its investigation.”

The EFCC granted Obiano administrative bail on Monday after he spent four nights in its custody.

STATEMENT BY THE LEAGUE OF ANAMBRA PROFESSIONALS [LAP] ON THE EFCC HUMILIATION OF CHIEF WILLIE OBIANO (ANAMBRA STATE EX-GOVERNOR) AND RELATED DEVELOPMENTS

The sensibilities of most right-thinking Nigerians were assaulted by a distasteful video which started circulating this weekend over the social media of an understandably very sober Chief Willie Obiano, the former Anambra State Governor, under EFCC detention striped to his shorts or boxer pants and gulping water from a plastic bottle.

It is common knowledge that visitors to EFCC offices-suspects, their lawyers and other members of the public-are never allowed inside with their phones and other electronic devices. The offensive video must therefore have been recorded by a staff of EFCC, otherwise the leadership of the Commission should explain how an outsider got round to taking the video shot.

From news of his arrest at the international airport on his way out of Nigeria and other matters in the public domain, Chief Obiano is undoubtedly a suspect and likely to be subjected to the enigmatic Nigerian criminal justice system. Nonetheless, he remains innocent until proven guilty in a court of law; and not on the basis of media trials and salacious social media and whazzap chat group gossips.

Furthermore, the Nigerian Constitution guarantees every citizen, including Chief Obiano, the right to dignity of the human person and which leakage of the video clearly derogates from. In addition to upholding the highest standards of professionalism in all fields as an article of faith, a cardinal objective of LAP is the enthronement of good governance and the rule of law in Anambra State and Nigeria in general.

LAP is therefore not by any means holding brief for Chief Obiano or canvassing that his tenure is immune from rigorous socio-political and legal scrutiny, with appropriate sanctions visited on persons found to have defaulted to levels below the legal minimum standards.

However, these on one hand and respect for Chief Obiano’s rights, the overall demands of fairness and justice as well as the sensibilities of right minded persons by the EFCC are not mutually exclusive.

It is against this backdrop that LAP is demanding from the leadership of EFCC an explanation to Nigerians for leakage of the video to the public and its readiness to visit sanctions on the culprits. Just as EFCC stands condemned for trivialization of the matter, it is apposite for LAP to use this medium to condemn the antics of some misguided rabble rousers who for reasons best known to them are ethnicising a serious issue of accountability of public office holders.

Another video trending in the social media has what looks like a clergyman inside a crowded church presumably in Anambra State passionately force feeding his audience the nonsense that Chief Obiano’s arrest by the EFCC is nothing but a political cum ethnic witch hunt; making some rather incoherent accusations against the ‘Fulanis’. Meanwhile Chief Obiano was one State Governor in the South-East who maintained measured friendly relations with the Federal Government and the Hausa-Fulani community in Anambra State. Indeed it is on record that his government, to the undoubted admiration of the ethnic Fulani leadership, resisted until the last hour, so to speak, the pressure in most of the Southern Nigerian states for the emplacement of anti-open grazing law; making the point that the arrangement instituted by his government of a standing arbitration/restitution process between community/farmers and Fulani cattle herders/dealers was effective and which made such law unnecessary.

It is also noteworthy that the Federal Government under APC was clearly impartial in the last Anambra State gubernatorial election, otherwise it would have been very difficult for Obiano’s political party to win easily and handing out a humiliating defeat to the APC.

We must be very careful because it is the kind of rhetoric mouthed by the rabble rousers condemned here that had been fed unfiltered and unnuanced to the gullible and simple minded in Igboland, especially amongst the youths, and which has culminated into the inexplicable path of wanton destruction of lives and properties; the falcon no longer hearing the falconer as Anambra State and Igboland hurtle headlong unto self destruction.

It is similarly pertinent in the present vein that we should not be detained by the non argument that some other former governors from some parts of the country seem not to be of interest to the EFCC. Regardless that Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, had secured a court judgment against the Federal Government’s practice of imposing on students from Anambra State the highest scores for admission into its colleges and universities (sometimes more than twice the numbers required of those from some other states), the practice has continued unabated; just like the standards for employment into and promotion within federal establishments are highest for indigenes of the state.

However if Anambra State indigenes, grudgingly or otherwise, have accepted being tasked with higher standards in the afore mentioned areas, they should for their own good embrace the expectation of higher standards of conduct from their political office holders. For emphasis, if influential persons from some other states are happy with unaccountable leadership of their home states we of LAP shall ensure that the home state of Chinua Achebe, Kenneth Dike, Ben Nwabueze, Zik, Emeka Ojukwu and Alex Ekwueme would not be. The motto of Anambra State as the ‘light of the nation’ must be infused with meaning.

Chijioke Okoli, SAN(Orji Nnewi)

President, The League of Anambra Professional(LAP)
20th March, 2022.

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