As ICPC clears Okiro of graft allegations -By John Nwokocha

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The much awaited outcome of the investigations by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) on allegation of fraud against the Chairman of Police Service Commission (PSC), Sir Mike Okiro by one Aaron Kasse was finally made public on Wednesday August 12. But contrary to his expectations, the ICPC absolved Okiro of the allegations. Today, the elder statesman who has spent all his life diligently serving the nation is in the eye of the public, nevertheless for good reasons.

A curious background check showed that he is a man with a patriotic zeal and impeccable antecedents. To the discerning public,it is not surprising that the ICPC gave Okiro a clean bill of health by clearing him of the allegations which largely stemmed from downright cheap blackmail, hate and personal vendetta targeted at rubbishing the hard earned high profile of the former Inspector General of Police. Without mincing words, the tortuous investigations which took the ICPC about two and a half months to conclude helped to correct the insinuations and negative perception about the person of the former IGP, is also commendable and would unarguably restore Nigerians’ confidence in the Commission much sooner than expected.

Ordinarily, given the current season of petitions and probes against serving and past public office holders by disgruntled and mischievous elements purportedly in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption fight, some lost faith in the ICPC and would rather take their case to the gods. By implication, this attitude is growing and consequently left a general mindset that any investigations by the ICPC not only would be fraught with witch-hunt but also lack thorough conduct.

In evaluating the ICPC’s report, it is important to emphasize that the investigation that cleared Okiro is particularly significant because not only does it serve as ample proof that President Buhari is not with-hunting anybody with a clean record, nor selective, but is also a concrete testimony that the ICPC conducted its investigations without interference.

It would be recalled that Okiro recently declared to his blackmailers and detractors that: ‘Those who have no skeleton in their cupboard have nothing to fear; President Buhari has not come to with-hunt anybody or punish innocent people’.

Okiro cannot be farther from the truth with the above wise counsel. Put in another way: ‘Clear conscience fears no accusation. Or only the guilty is afraid.’ This should be the positive mind frame of any public office holder who has not involved himself/ herself in corruption.

The truth, however, is that the country can boast of only a few people like Okiro who is transparent in all he does in office. Many who had the opportunity to serve the country like Okiro compromised their positions with impunity, because they got into public office with the intention to plunder the treasury entrusted on them rather than render service.

But for such people, they are in for a tough time under President Buhari’s administration that has from the onset declared zero-tolerance for corruption and related sharp practices.

From the look of emerging events. there is no hiding place for corrupt officials and the determination of Buhari to wipe out corruption is not in disguise judging from the decisive steps he has taken since assumption of office in May 29. Therefore, it is expected that patriotic Nigerians like Okiro would declare maximum support for war against corruption. An interesting dimension to it is that it will go a long way in arresting the present barrage of unwarranted persecution on the media particularly, the social media before investigations by the relevant anti-graft agency or authority.

The condemnation by a section of the media before trial of innocent Nigerians, who are diligently discharging their responsibilities, should be checked. If proper investigations are conducted, many would be shocked to find that not every petition is without egocentric motive nor should be treated for lack of merits.

Be that as it may, the ICPC report in a nutshell directed the PSC to remit N133 million to the Federal Treasury through the ICPC recovery account at First City Monument Bank. The money was the balance of the N350 million the PSC received from the Federal Government for staff training and physical monitoring of police personnel during the 2015 general elections.

Similarly, the anti-graft agency directed PSC’s workers who were paid two-way return tickets and airport taxi fares to locations within the Federal Capital Territory and states close to Abuja during the monitoring exercise to refund to the treasury the sum of N11.7 million. The report signed by the ICPC Chairman, Ekpo Nta, on August 6 2015, reads: ‘’The investigation has not revealed any act of criminal infraction against the person of Sir (Dr.) Mike Mbama Okiro, the Chairman of the Police Service Commission as all issues outlined above are administrative in nature and within the ambits of career public servants handling.’’

“Consequently, this Commission hereby directs as follows that the total balance of N133,413,845.99 from the N350,000,000 2015 election monitoring exercise domiciled within FCMB to be remitted to the Federal Treasury through the ICPC Recovery Account No. 1012929790 at Zenith Bank Plc.’’

From the foregoing, the facts are clear that Okiro was never indicted by the report and the desperation to impugn his reputation was in vain anyway. As this is a matter already in public domain, any sane mind and unprejudiced critic would be convinced that the ongoing corruption and looting of public treasury probes by President Buhari are non-selective and devoid of witch-hunt.

The report, by this appraisal, is a further demonstration that those who have not soiled their hands should not be afraid of probes while the ICPC can leverage on the template.

• Nwokocha, former Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Abia State, and public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja.

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