ICPC has to probe FG officials who accused D’banj of fraud, says Ozekhome
Mike Ozekhome, the human rights lawyer, says the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) should have done a thorough investigation before publicly accusing D’banj.
On Tuesday, the singer was detained by the ICPC, a few weeks after he was summoned by the commission.
The ICPC said the singer was under investigation for allegedly diverting funds meant for the N-Power project, a programme initiated by the federal government in 2016 to address the country’s unemployment challenges.
ICPC had alleged that the stipends meant for beneficiaries of the initiative were paid to accounts linked to D’banj.
But on Friday, the ‘Fall in Love’ crooner was released — after three days in detention — with his lawyers arguing that no evidence was found on him.
In a statement, Ozekhome said the ICPC failed to do a thorough probe before giving D’banj what he described as a “media trial”.
“Dbanj’s unnecessary detention for 3 whole days after cooperating with the ICPC by voluntarily cutting short his full engagements in South Africa, came to us as a big surprise,” the lawyer said.
“This is because he was neither a fugitive fleeing from justice nor a defendant already undergoing a trial and jumping bail.
“One would have expected that having voluntarily submitted himself and answered the ICPC’s call from South Africa to enable him clear his good name and solid reputation, by helping in its investigation, D’banj ought to have been immediately released on administrative bail.
“Unfortunately, we witnessed the usual, now infamous media trial for which the anti-corruption agencies are now known, through a clandestine release to the public, skewed details concerning his invitation, arrest, and illegal detention, with no scintilla of evidence found against him after three days of interrogation.
“The ICPC ought to have first carried out a thorough investigation before issuing a pre-emptive damaging press release which, by its very screaming heading, had literally pronounced Dbanj guilty and culpable of fanthom, unproven and unprovable allegations even before the investigation had commenced.”
The federal ministry of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development earlier said it reported the alleged fraud in the N-Power programme to the ICPC for investigation.
Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, the permanent secretary of the ministry, said “the sharp practices were carried out by some personnel of the payment service provider,” hence the need to invite the ICPC for investigation.
Speaking on the development in the statement, Ozekhome called on the anti-graft agency to “thoroughly investigate this matter by inviting the minister who allegedly called in the ICPC, with all those alleged collaborators, and make public their account details, including Dbanj’s account details which are already in its possession.
“Where the ICPC finds the evident witch-hunting and name-dopping of Dbanj, the least expected of this distinguished agency is to tender a public apology to Dbanj. It is so cheap and very easy to hurriedly demonise and accuse an innocent person, especially where his accusers leverage on his celebrity status to attempt tearing him to pieces and fling him under a powerful government moving train. This attitude must stop.”
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