The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has opened its zonal office in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, but some residents of the city do not appear to see it as a welcome development.
“EFCC, welcome to the home of professional and unrepentant petition writers,” Inimfon Silas, a journalist and publisher of a community newspaper in the state, wrote Tuesday on Facebook.
“Be sure your office is open even on Sundays,” he added.
Mr. Silas, who is also the Chairman of the Federated Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Akwa Ibom State Council, then went on to drop what appeared to be the crux of his message: “Construction of roads and railways in other parts of the country, but EFCC office in Akwa Ibom State. Thank you, FG.”
What Mr. Silas said, in other words, is that the federal government was being unfair to Akwa Ibom by pushing a branch office of the dreaded federal anti-graft agency to the state instead of building roads and a railway in the state.
And there are others, including prominent people, in the state who share such sentiments despite the fact that the EFCC also recently opened an office in Kaduna State,Jack Essien, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and a former chairman of Ikono Local Government Area in the state, also took to Facebook to express his displeasure with the federal government on the issue.
“Akwa Ibom State is the highest producer of crude oil in Nigeria but the federal government has refused to site a refinery in the state or a Petroleum depot,” Mr. Essien wrote on the social media site.
“We are one of the highest producers of gas but there is no LNG project sited in Akwa Ibom.
“But for being the highest in petition writing in the country they quickly gave us a Zonal Office of the EFCC. Hmmmm. This is why some people support Biafra. The injustice is too much,” Mr. Essien wrote, adding that Akwa Ibom people should support the agitation for a restructuring of the country to enable the people to control their resources.
Patrick Reuben, a Personal Assistant to the State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, also criticised the EFCC for establishing its office in the oil-rich state.
The EFCC should focus on clearing itself of the allegations of poor accountability and being the attack dog against people in the opposition party, Mr. Reuben wrote on Facebook.
“Those who are dancing, clapping and applauding the opening of the EFCC office in Akwa Ibom sure are still living in a fool’s paradise,” he said.
There are, however, other indigenes of the state like Franklyn Isong, a journalist, and Inibehe Effiong, a human rights lawyer, who have expressed their excitement with the EFCC having its office in the state.
Mr. Isong, who also publishes a community newspaper in the state, took to twitter to send a welcome message to the EFCC.
Mr. Isong later told PREMIUM TIMES why it was a welcome development for the EFCC to have an office in the state.
“It will create the consciousness in our leaders that one day they must render accounts of their stewardship,” he said.
He also talked about the ongoing legal battle between the state government and the EFCC.
“It is an open secret that the PDP state government under Mr. Udom Emmanuel is not disposed to the activities of the EFCC with respect to investigating the immediate past administration or Senator Godswill Akpabio.
“The government has dragged the agency to court, and right now the commission cannot perform its statutory functions pending the outcome of the court action, which may last for as long as the tenure of the Udom Emmanuel administration.
“It is sad and strange that a state government would, instead of encouraging the fight against corruption, seek to use the court to frustrate the anti-corruption agency in the country.”
On the issue of citing federal projects in the state, Mr. Isong has this to say: “Of course, we need federal government projects in the state, but don’t forget that it is only in this APC federal government that so many Akwa Ibom sons and daughters are appointed into several federal boards and commissions irrespective of political party leaning.
“So instead of castigating the federal government, we should applaud it and appeal for more.
“Before now, PDP had occupied the federal government for 16 years, and we cannot point to one federal project in the state, talk less of the numbers of federal appointees from the state.
“The Buhari’s APC government has tried for the state and should be encouraged. The government has approved construction of Calabar-Itu highway which is in the 2017 budget. And we look forward to its execution,” he said.
The human rights lawyer, Mr. Effiong, said it wasn’t just enough for the EFCC to set up an office in Uyo, but that the ordinary people needed to see the impact.
He advised the anti-graft agency to go after corrupt public officers in the state.
“Go after them. If they refuse to honour your invitations, approach the Court for a Remand Order and proceed to arrest, bundle and throw them into the cell,” Mr. Effiong wrote on Facebook.