What does Jafaru Isa’s release say about the impartiality of Buhari’s fight against corruption?

When Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain Jafaru Isa, last week Friday, many thought things were about to change. It almost seemed as though President Buhari’s fight against corruption had become more believable considering Jafar Isa is a close friend of the president. However two days later there are reports that Jafaru Isa has been released on bail by the EFCC, raising a lot of concerns considering that some opposition members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) indicted in the same arms deal scam have spent longer than that in EFCC detention.

Jafaru Isa was indicted in the ongoing $2 billion arms deal scam that originated from the office of Nigeria’s former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki. However, he was released after he returned N100 million from the N170 million allegedly given to him by Sambo Dasuki and the promising to return the rest. He claimed he received the money from Sambo Dasuki, who is his close friend, for the acquisition of a property in Kano.

PDP spokesman Olisah Metuh was arrested by the EFCC six days ago for his involvement in the same scam. A week has gone by and he is still in the custody of the EFCC. The story is the same for Raymond Dokepsi, Nduka Obaigbena, Attahiru Bafarawa and many other core PDP chieftains who were arrested for their involvements in the scam. While in detention, they have received a lot of backlash from the Nigerian media. The smear campaign extended to social media with hashtags like #IstandwithBuhari, #Goharderbuhari trending on twitter, all in support of Buhari’s war against corruption.

Jafaru Isa’s arrest and subsequent release has thrown up no such campaign. The PDP this morning declared his release a proof that Buhari is on a witchhunt. They may or may not have a point. EFCC has, before now, been accused of not having enough evidence before picking up suspects; reason why most of their indictments never make it to court. In their defence, the EFCC said they offered other people, who received money from Dasuki, the chance to return them but these people kept “… deploying tactics to avoid prosecution, while also going away with the loot”.

The detention of the above PDP members has thrown up similar accusations. This is because in some cases they’ve had their bail applications denied even after admitting they received money from Sambo Dasuki (e.g. Raymond Dokpesi). EFCC’s arrest and persecution of PDP members therefore comes across as a deliberate attempt to weaken the opposition party. Shouldn’t everybody be afforded the same treatment regardless of political affiliation?  And just how much does returning the money really exonerate them of their crimes?

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