A coalition of anti-corruption groups has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate a viral audio where some politicians in Delta state were allegedly discussing how they secured appeal court judgements in favour of the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Addressing a world press conference on behalf of the Coalition in Abuja, John Onochie of Nigeria Stand Up for Democracy, said the EFCC and ICPC as an agency against vote buying, election rigging and other improprieties must study the audio where the politicians where heard discussing how they procured victories at the appeal Court.
The politicians, according to Onochie also said that they have the supreme court in their palms to do their will.
Part of the audio which was in pidgin English read: “This one nah draw, una win this one, we are still going to supreme court. As at three days ago, dem don give am to Ovie, unfortunately the thing leak. As I talk to you now, I dey Abuja. Nah him una carry $7million dollars go. We get money reach una? We make dem realise say, the country go scatter if dem try am, We use connection. We dey come supreme court. We no dey fear supreme court, the only one we feared na appeal court.”
According to The Guardian, the group urged anti-graft agencies to invite all those indicted foro questioning to ascertain the level of involvement and to bring all those involved in the alleged corrupt practices to book.
Recall that recently, the court of appeal affirmed the election of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori, the candidate of the PDP in the Delta state governorship poll which was held on March 18.
The judgment was delivered nearly two months after the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal upheld Oborevwori’s election.
In a swift reaction, spokesperson of Delta state campaign council of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2023 general elections, Dr (Barr.) Wilfred Latimore Oghenesivbe, said the party and her governorship candidate’s victory at the tribunal and Court of Appeal was, and still the true position of the mandate given to the incumbent Governor, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori on March 18, 2023, by the electorates.
He said the trending audio on social media was a manipulated and mischievously edited audio; wherein some persons were alleged to have discussed issues relating to some court cases.
Part of the audio discussion between the two politicians, which was in pidgin English read: “… This one nah draw, una win this one… We are still going to supreme court… ,As I talk to you now, I dey Abuja. Na him una carry 7 million dollars go. We get money reach una? We make them realise say, the country go scatter if dem try am… We use connection. We dey come supreme court. Na supreme court self we dey… The only one we feared was appeal court…”
Oghenesivbe, who is also the Executive Assistant on Orientation and Communications to Delta State Governor, said the manipulated trending audio neither mentioned PDP nor her candidate in the said twisted conversation to suggest criminal conspiracy and common intention, noting that the audio is devoid of criminal elements of Actus Reus and Mens Rea required to prosecute, convict and sentence the unknown mysterious voices in the misleading audio, and/or any other entity for that matter.
He further stated that for any law enforcement agency or the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate any matter referred to it, the suspects must be properly identified, and other credible evidence must be attached to the petition, adding that, marked Naira notes or other proof of financial inducements; such as debit and credit entries in bank statements or CCTV footages of movements and transactions are required to prove the allegation of bribery and corruption beyond reasonable doubt.
Oghenesivbe averred in his press statement that EFCC or any other law enforcement agency cannot rely on a mischievous and fatally manipulated audio to commence investigation, pointing out that for the said audio to be subjected to criminal investigation, the two phones used for the conversation, the editing machines and other evidence, such as; Naira notes, phone conversation of bribe negotiators or CCTV footages which vividly captured the alleged bribery and corruption must be obtained before criminal action can be instituted against any suspect or suspects as required in criminal jurisdiction.
In the instant case, he further observed that names of those who received bribe money and the amount received were never mentioned in the manipulated audio. The source or sources of the bribe money, those who distributed the funds and the receivers remained a mystery, which is why the EFCC as a responsible commission may not waste precious time, human and material resources to chase empty shadow that was projected to the public by some amateur propagandists of the major opposition political party in the state, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
“I listened to the trending audio, which in my view, lacked basic criminal elements. It may never provoke criminal investigation and prosecution, for the fact that the audio conversion was misleading, manipulated and grossly twisted to paint the judiciary or our noble judges as corrupt jurists. It was that bad and painful. APC should stop tarnishing the good image of our esteemed jurists.
“PDP as a party and her candidate in the ongoing post election legal matters were not mentioned in the trending mischievous and fatally manipulated audio. It has nothing to do with our party, PDP and candidate, as he then was, now the governor of Delta State.
“The origin of the audio is diabolical and mysterious. This is desperation taken too far by media propagandists of the opposition party, the APC.
“The circulation of the manipulated audio was deliberate on the part of the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, calculated to mislead the public, and it is unacceptable under the universal tenets of constitutional democracy and representative government.
“The general public must of a necessity disregard the trending evil audio. Such propaganda cannot sway the minds and legal reasoning of our competent and honest Appellate Courts Justices, who are determined to dispense unbiased justice, irrespective of the calibre and political influence of the parties involved.
“The audio cannot be relied upon to prove any bribery and corruption allegation beyond reasonable doubt as required in criminal jurisprudence. It is a mere piece of diabolical propaganda and nothing more.
“PDP and her candidate who is now the governor of Delta State, Rt Hon (Elder) Sheriff F.O Oborevwori, won the 2023 governorship election clean and clear in 21 local government areas, while APC won 4 local government areas. The wide margin of defeat is unprecedented and the opposition must learn to live with it.
“The people of Delta State, gave their mandate to governor Oborevwori and PDP at the polls as affirmed by the Tribunal and Court of Appeal.
“I must state unequivocally, and without prejudice, that no amount of misinformation, fake news, malicious publications and mischievous propaganda by the opposition can stop the foreseeable victory of PDP and governor Oborevwori at the Supreme Court,” Oghenesivbe said.