Oba of Benin recounts how EFCC operatives treated his petition with kid-gloves

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The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, on Monday narrated how operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) allegedly frustrated his petition against former palace officials.

According to a statement made available to newsmen by his Chief Press Secretary, Osaigbovo Ighobaro, in Benin City, the monarch accused the agency of aiding and abetting crimes, noting that his petition against the former palace officials was treated with kid gloves.

Ighobaro said the Royal Father made the allegation when he received Mr. Effa Okim, the new Benin Zonal Director of the agency, in his Palace.

While tasking the Commission to fight crime without fear or favor, the traditional ruler cited a particular criminal investigation involving unnamed former Palace officials who were arrested for fraud and handed over to EFCC in Benin for investigation and prosecution.

The Oba, who did not give details about the unnamed former Palace officials, alleged that the culprits were set free after giving them “slaps on their wrists” a few years ago.

He also wondered why EFCC investigators allegedly swept glaring evidence of fraud against the suspects under the carpet.

According to him, “We want to draw your attention to one or two grey areas in your operations, no matter how much you try to support them from the Palace. It was a young lady who headed that team from the Palace.

“It was very difficult. They (EFCC) always come and speak gloriously. Actually, when the time comes to assist them, they seem to listen to other parties. What has been told is that they take instructions from the highest bidder.

“You know that I have been known for speaking the truth. But like it was, I was not happy about certain things that happened with your predecessor.

“We get news from everywhere. When we try to assist the EFCC, I even wrote a letter to the then Chairman who was later removed from office. I even sent an emissary to talk to him regarding certain elements in Edo State, particularly the Palace.

“How can EFCC boys, especially that girl, be behaving like this? If I was asked to comment on her performance index, I will score her zero. I do not know if she was doing EFCC’s job or just dancing to the tunes of people who were giving her money. At the time we were trying to assist EFCC, the report we kept getting was negative, and I was not happy about it.”

The monarch, however, noted that the newly appointed Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Olanipekun Olukayode, is on the path to greatness if he continually demonstrates fidelity in his duties. He, however, pledged his Palace’s support to the State government in addressing social inequality and reducing social vices.

Earlier, the new Benin Zonal Director of EFCC, Mr. Effa Okim, appealed to Oba Ewuare II to support advocacy against financial crimes, noting that Edo State ranked second behind Lagos State in the financial crime index of Nigeria. Okim, who recalled the historical ties between his State of Origin, Cross River, and Edo State, solicited prayers and Royal blessings to enable him to discharge his duties diligently.

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