An anti-corruption group, the Network Against Corruption and Trafficking (NACAT), has said its efforts to trace and recover over N5 Trillion diverted by corrupt public officials is being threatened by the interference of the Directorate of State Security, DSS.
NACAT also warned that no government agency has the power to stop its activities even as it called on the SSS to join the group and President Muhammadu Buhari to end the continuous looting of the country by corrupt public servants.
In a statement, the anti-corruption group said it is currently in court with top directors in Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, NDDC for refusal to furnish it with requests made under the FOIA.
“We have also concluded processes towards filing nine new court cases against top directors too in FERMA, Federal Ministries of Education, Defence, Digital Communication, Police Affairs and Agriculture, NBBRI as well as National Lottery Trust Fund and HYPADDEC, with the EFCC, ICPC, CCB and the supervising ministries as co-defendants. All these are being financed by various companies that our trustees work with.
“We have petitioned various permanent secretaries which includes one of those in the State House to the EFCC and ICPC. They have currently been invited by the EFCC and ICPC after our adoption of the petitions.
“We recall that we have also written a petition to the SSS to investigate an influential permanent secretary who invited us in what we suspect to be an inducement discussion, which we declined, after we requested for his CCB details under the FOIA, to confirm what we have in our investigations against him. Till date, we are yet to get a feedback on the petition from the SSS.”
According to the statement made available to journalists on Friday, the group said it has also dragged the SSS before the Federal High Court in Suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/85/2023 for infringement of their fundamental human rights.
Narrating their ordeal, the group said, “On 13th January 2023, NACAT Director of Legal & Operations, Barrister Justice Ojefia was invited via call by the FCT Command of the SSS the same day. As a law abiding, he honoured the invitation in less than one hour. While at the command, one of the officials, Mr Etuk told him that our NGO is among those being profiled, to be sure that we do not use it to fund terrorism. After filling all the necessary forms and taking finger prints, including photocopies or all our NGO documents and his call to bar certificate, he left them, only to be told to come with his International Passport which he went with on 23rd January 2023.
“After making photocopies of it, the officer opened up to him that the National Security Adviser (NSA) wrote to them to investigate NACAT for writing letters to public office holders under the Freedom of Information Act, requesting for copies of their Code of Conduct Bureau Assets Declaration forms. Our legal director told them clearly that it is within our right and mandate as an NGO to write such letters to anyone paid by the tax payers, and that includes the SSS, which they affirmed.
“They requested that we furnish them all the letters we have written to public servants, EFCC, ICPC and CCB, an action our NGO Director of Legal vehemently kicked against. We had written last year to the SSS, EFCC, ICPC and CCB to collaborate with us of which only the EFCC and ICPC invited us for discussion and collaboration towards the fight against corruption and trafficking.
“Curiously, they directed that he come to their office with the Director of Investigation on 25th January.
The Director of Investigation who is also a trustee of NACAT offered to appear the same 23rd, which he went. After waiting for hours to see the SSS officials with the legal director, they had to leave the command back to the office.
“Since then, the same command has been calling our office line and harassing the staff carrying out their duties to inform the trustees to appear before the command.
“NACAT believes that the Director General of the SSS, Yusuf Magaji Bichi is not aware of these actions of the FCT Command. This will not be the first time that the command will invite NGOs who investigated public office holders and are subtly threatened to back off such investigations.
“NACAT believes strongly that the NSA did not mandate the FCT command of the SSS to single out our NGO best known for investigating civil servants, for profiling, when we are not a terrorist group or committed economic sabotage or threat to national security.
“NACAT believes that some of those whom we have written to requesting for their CCB forms, out of fear of being exposed has seen a willing tool in the FCT Command, hoping to use them to silence us from following their trails. The public servants who have amassed illegal wealth are always afraid to go the the SSS headquarters as such matters are not entertained there.
“The SSS duties are clearly spelt out and it does not include meddling in civil matters, such as NGOs that are merely helping the government fight societal menace.
“There are over 1500 top civil servants on NACAT radar who have diverted over N5 trillion in the last eleven years using their companies and we will not stop until we fish them out, investigate and report them to the appropriate authorities or go to court if need be.”
NACAT said it will not be cowed, coerced, threatened, intimidated, blackmailed, compromised or called to order by anybody to stop requests under the FOIA or back off the investigation of corrupt public servants and send petitions to EFCC, ICPC and CCB, except Mr President decides otherwise.
“We are all joint owners of Nigeria working together to redeem the country from corrupt elements.
“The SSS should be reminded that a Chief Judge of the Federation, Justice Walter Onnoghen left his exalted position as Nigeria’s number 5 citizen after his expose by an NGO that he didn’t declare some particular bank accounts in his CCB form.
“NACAT calls on the SSS to join us and President Muhammadu Buhari who has consistently insisted that he has a mandate to fight corruption before he leaves office, instead of becoming pliable hands against the movement to leave a less corrupt free Nigeria for upcoming generations.”