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Olukoyede: Diligently Minding His Business

By John Adams

Corruption is a deep-seated issue in Nigeria, surpassed only by the country’s flawed constitution as a major challenge. For far too long, corrupt individuals in positions of power have siphoned public funds, perpetuating a culture of impunity.

However, the current administration under President Bola Tinubu has vowed to tackle corruption head-on. To spearhead this effort, President Tinubu appointed Ola Olukoyede as the EFCC Chairman, leveraging his over 22 years of legal expertise to drive the fight against corruption.

Undeterred by distractions orchestrated by corrupt persons, Olukoyede is resolute in his mission to hold corrupt individuals accountable and restore integrity to Nigeria’s institutions.

His unwavering dedication is crucial at this critical moment, as the country seeks to break free from the shackles of corruption and forge a path towards a brighter future.

In October 2023, when Tinubu announced the choice of Olukayode, he emphasized that his leadership at the EFCC would have significant bearing on his Renewed Hope Agenda. Hence, he promised an invigorated war on corruption through reformed institutional architecture in the anti-corruption sector.

But rather than get the needed support to do the job, in what was the first indication that it wasn’t going to be a smooth sail for Olukayode, no sooner had Tinubu announced his appointment and the National Assembly confirmed him, than traducers began to do all they could to dislodge him from office.

First, two lawyers in persons of Mr. Stanley Okawara and Mr. Maxwell Opara, approached a Federal High Court seeking the nullification of his appointment on the grounds that he was not a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent.

But the presidency maintained that it complied with Section 2(3) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004, which stipulates that any member of the Commission whether serving or retired who has 15 years’ cognate experience in their chosen career is eligible to be appointed as the chairman of the commission.

Olukoyede, having served as the Chief of Staff to the Executive Chairman of the EFCC (2016-2018) and Secretary to the Commission between 2018 and 2020, and having been a member of a law enforcement organisation as Secretary, in this case, the EFCC, as stipulated in the EFCC Act, is qualified for the job.

Fingers are crossed as Nigerians await the verdict of Justice Obiora Egwuatu of Federal High Court in Abuja who has fixed June 19, for judgment in the suit seeking Olukoyede’s sack as the EFCC chairman.

However, while those challenging Olukoyede’s eligibility were slugging it out in the court, a certain, Daniel Bwala, dragged him to the court of public opinion where he alleged that President Tinubu erred in appointing him as EFCC boss because he was allegedly suspended by former president, Muhammadu Buhari, following an alleged indictment by a judicial panel headed by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami.

Though Olukoyede has remained unperturbed by the allegation, his supporters have continued to explain that the suspension was not due to the recommendation of the Justice Ayo Salami Panel of Inquiry, but an administrative procedure aimed to give the panel unhindered access to EFCC documents and not as a result of any wrongdoing or crime committed as being insinuated in some quarters.

Coordinator of a group, Alliance for Good Governance and Due Process, Mr. AyelabolaHussain, also took to the media to allege that Olukoyede’s bank account was under investigation. In fact, he claimed that his account had been frozen. But challenged to back his allegation with facts and figures by providing details, Ayelabola has remained silent while the EFCC boss still has full access to his bank accounts.

The case of the immediate past governor of Kogi State, Mr. Yahya Bello and the EFCC chairman is another interesting one. While the former governor is evading prosecution in an N80 billion money laundering charges filed against him, his successor, Ahmed Ododo, helped him to escape arrest by EFCC operatives in Abuja.

It didn’t stop at that. Justice Isa Jamil of Lokoja High Court, Kogi State, on February 9, 2024, restrained the EFCC from arresting, detaining and prosecuting Bello following ruling in an ex-parte motion filed by Yahaya Bello through his lawyer, M.S. Yusuf, Esq. The former governor is still on the run and yet to defend the allegation of staggering embezzlement of public funds brought against him.

So, when EFCC operatives attempted to arrest Yahaya Bello at his Abuja residence on April 17, 2024, Olukoyede was ordered to appear before the Lokoja court on May 13, 2024, to face a contempt charge for going after the ex-governor before the determination of the substantive Originating Motion.

It took the intervention of a three-member panel of the Abuja Court of Appeal headed by Justice Joseph Oyewole to halt the Kogi High Court verdict.

Meanwhile, the anti-graft body has gone ahead to get a refund of $760, 000 paid as futuristic school fees for his levels 2 to 8 children by Yahaya Bello, who is presently on the run, at the American International School, Abuja.

The EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, told Nigerians, especially the impoverished Kogi State indigenes, that, “The school has refunded the entire $760, 000 to the EFCC’s recovery account.”

Much more than the money recovered from the American International School, Abuja, even though Olukoyede has been confronting deliberate distractions from quarters fighting back as he tries to fight corruption, he has remained persistent and has not buckled either. So, it is right to say, for him, the more the distraction, the stronger he gets.

Those familiar with him have said we haven’t seen nothing yet, because as a typical proud Ekiti son, who takes hard work and decency seriously, assigning him the EFCC job is asking him to prove to Nigerians that the president did not make a mistake of giving him the job in the first place.

Having served as the Chief of Staff to the Executive Chairman between 2016 and 2018 and as Secretary to the Commission between 2018 and 2023) when he was nominated by former president Buhari, Olukoyede has shown that he possesses the requisite knowledge to lead all-important agency.

Within 100 days, precisely from October 2023, when he was confirmed, and January 19, 2024, the EFCC recovered a total of N70, 556,658,370.5. A detail of the recovery shown in a document titled: ‘Operations and Recoveries’, broke the recovery down to N60,969,047,634.25, $10,522,778.57, £150,002.10, €4,119.90, bringing it to N70,5bn recovered by the anti-graft commission within the period under review.

Still within the same time frame, a total of 3, 325 petitions were received, and 2,657 of them were accepted. The body successfully secured the convictions of 747 persons for financial crime offences such as money laundering and internet fraud.

According to the EFCC, the headquarters singlehandedly recovered N49,607,391,330.44, $3,900,200.75, £2000, and £110, the Maiduguri Zonal Command recovered N58,065,870 and $3,370, Gombe Command recovered N127,323,028.50 and $1,500 and the Kano Command recovered N141,944,451 and $365.

Also, the Makurdi Command recovered N53,228, 325, Enugu Command recovered N202,117,000 and $1,950, Uyo Command recovered N25,299,950 and $710, while Port Harcourt Zonal Command recovered N2,412,247,210.05 and $5,714,389.21, Sokoto Command recovered the sum of N100,696,118.72, while the Kaduna Command recovered N331,494,710.81, $912, £50, and €1,610.

The EFCC document further indicated that the Ilorin Command recovered N80,280,580.86 and $880, while the Abuja Zonal Command recovered N825,928,463 and $10,000. The Ibadan Zonal Command recovered N135,519,810, $14517, £280, and €500, while the Lagos Zonal Command recovered N6,826,993,798.78, $868,284.61, £147,672.10, and €1899.90. The Benin Zonal Command also recovered N49,515,987.09 and $5,700.

It is obvious from the achievements recorded by the EFCC under Olukoyede in six months that as a successful lawyer, who has a second address, he is not perturbed by the many attempts to malign him.

This EFCC chairman is unlike the archetypal ones who would buckle under various impossible circumstances. He is determined to succeed and leaves his name in gold. One would not expect anything less from him being the lead pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), City of Refuge, Lagos.

This simply explains why those creating artificial distractions and trying to endorse corruption can’t get him out of the way. One can only imagine what a Yahya Bello would be willing to do just to drag Olukoyede’s name in the mud and get him out of the office to get some reprieve.

Rather than allow the nefarious individuals to have their way, Nigerians actually need to support Olukoyede by owning the fight against corruption. The war against corruption should be a collective responsibility in Nigeria.

For many who are rooting for Olukoyede and imploring him to do more to rid Nigeria of endemic corruption, it was a big relieve when the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, lauded Olukoyede on his efforts to rid the nation of economic and financial crimes and other acts of corruption when the acting Zonal Director, Ibadan Zonal Command of the EFCC, Assistant Commander of the EFCC, ACE I, Hauwa Garba Ringimm paid him a courtesy visit.

According to the Yoruba paramount ruler, who underscored Olukoyede’s anti-corruption efforts as “unequivocal”, he expressed optimism that “the fight against corruption will be won under the leadership of the current chairman due to his total belief in community engagement and effective collaboration among relevant stakeholders who play pivotal roles in combating the menace of corruption.”

The Estu Nupe, His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr.) Yahaya Abubakar and Emir of Zazzau, Amb. Ahmed Nuhu Bamali expressed their support for Olukoyede financial crimes and other forms of corruption in Nigeria.

The two prominent traditional rulers, who spoke in a separate but similar circumstances when they hosted the Acting Zonal Director, Kaduna Zonal Command, DCE Dr. Benedict Ubi and his team, during a courtesy visit to the two emirates, acknowledged the tremendous works the commission is doing for Nigeria and urged that they should continue to perform their duties with the fear of God.