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Africa
Nigerian deputy on corruption list
Investigators say vice-president is among 130 election candidates unfit for office.
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2007 20:07 GMT
Atiku Abubakar, a former ally of the president, is standing for an opposition party in April [AP]
Investigators in Nigeria have said that 130 candidates standing in April's elections, including the current vice-president, are unfit to hold political office.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has written to political parties with the list of names advising them to withdraw the candidates rather than have them disqualified.
Atiku Abubakar, the vice-president who is running for president with the opposition Action Congress, is the most senior politican on the list.

The Action Congress has said the anti-corruption unit is biased against the opposition and is abusing its power.
"When were these people investigated? Were they formally contacted and questioned by the so-called EFCC investigators? Were they given fair hearing? What are their offences? When were the offences committed?" the party asked in a statement.

Election candidates

The commission's list includes 51 candidates from the ruling People's Democratic party, 35 from the opposition All Nigeria People's party and 27 from the Action Congress.

"EFCC cannot surreptitiously turn itself
into the investigator, prosecutor, juror and executioner, just to satisfy the dangerous wish of a presidency that has turned itself into
a full-blown dictatorship"


Action Congress party statement
The opposition said the commission was targeting Olusegun Obasanjo's most prominent opponents while naming only second-tier figures from the ruling party.
   
"EFCC cannot surreptitiously turn itself into the investigator, prosecutor, juror and executioner, just to satisfy the dangerous wish of a presidency that has turned itself into a full-blown dictatorship," the Action Congress statement said.

Nigerians are due to elect their president, state governors and national and state legislators in April in elections that would mark the country's first democratic transition from one civilian government.

The anti-corruption commission, created by Obasanjo in 2003, vowed last year that it would act to stop tainted politicians from gaining office.

"It's advisory but we expect them to take action. If they don't, the parties stand to lose when these people are prosecuted as they certainly will be," Osita Nwajah, spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said.
   
Criminal charges

He said the EFCC would press charges "at the appropriate time" but did not explain why it was not doing so already.

Nwajah has denied the commission was biased and said it was easier for people to claim they were being victimised than to defend themselves against allegations of corruption.
   
"We really do not have any political consideration in the work we do," he said.
   
Allegations of corruption against the vice-president are not new. Obasanjo used two reports, including one written by the EFCC, to exclude his estranged deputy from the ruling party's presidential primary even though a court said they were invalid.
   
Abubakar hit back with accusations of corruption against Obasanjo and defected to the Action Congress. The pair have been engaged in a war of words and hardly a day goes by without mutual allegations of wrongdoing.
Source:
Agencies
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