Monday, 31 December 2007

Who the Cap Fits?

News that the presidency may have approached former Kaduna State governor, Abubakar Umar, to head the EFCC is most welcome given his antecedents.
Umar has distinguished himseelf as a fearless military officer who has over the years remained a 'lone voice in the wilderness' in his criticism of government policies.
One other name i would have loved to hear is Ishola Williams, a retired general per excellence who presently heads Transparency International in Nigeria. He is fearless too and can deliver the goods.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Adieu EFCC

I met the EFCC director of Operations, Ibrahim Lamorde, for the first time in November while working on a report on the activities of internet fraudsters (Yahoo Boys) in Lagos. He sounded intelligent and courageous. I later realised that he was indeed the brain behind the success of the EFCC. He carried out his job without fear despite threats and intimidation.
Am not trying to sing Ibrahim Lamorde's praise but just thinking aloud what has become of the nation's anti-graft agency.
The police boss, Mike Okiro, claimed EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, was sent on compulsory study leave to enhance his professional knowledge. There are already insinuations that he is indeed being trained to take over as police boss when Okiro's tenure runs out. Is Ibrahim Lamorde also being sent on course to take over as the police DIG? Maybe the presidency will have to approve an accelerated promotion for him from assistant commissioner of police to deputy inspector general when he completes his two-month course at the police college, Jos, Plateau State.
Ribadu and Lamorde are obviously the arrowheads of the nation's anti-corruption crusade and easing them out of the system same time on mere excuses of professional training casts serious doubts over federal government's sincererity in the pursuit of the crusade to rid the society of bad eggs.
If only i had an opportunity to make any imput i would have suggested Ibrahim Lamorde be made the new EFCC boss to continue from where Ribadu stopped. Ribadu assumed the chairmanship of the EFCC as an assistant commissioner of police which is the current rank of Lamorde.
There are already reports of plans by some ex-governors who ran out of the country to escape EFCC prosecution to return and face 'prosecution'. Is this a confirmation of fears that the EFCC will no longer bite?
I don't agree with claims by some commentators that the nation's anti-corruption crusade should not be personalised. I dont have the courage to do it and i know so many can't face the heat too. Why completely ease out those with the skills and courage to brave all odds same time?
Congratulations to the 'powerful clique' behind this successful operation to cripple the nation's anti-corruption crusade.
I look foward to the speedy dismissal of all allegations of corruption levelled against some powerful former public office holders.
Welcome to the world of a brand new 'toothless' EFCC.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Sad End or Good Riddance?

I have compiled below statements made by some individuals on the removal of EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu.

"seven senior police officers have been selected. All the police officers going on course are not idle. Their going would make them perform better. He [Ribadu] is going on course not only to develop himself but to also develop the Force. There should not be any hue and cry from the general public. AIG Nuhu Ribadu is not being sent on course for any ulterior motive other than the reasons I have explained; he is not being sent to NIPSS on the prompting of any external body or bodies. He has met the conditions of service and qualifies to be nominated to attend a course at NIPSS”, Mike Okiro, Nigeria Police Boss.

"the day he (Ribadu) leaves office will be the day the credibility of Nigeria's 'war on corruption' is entirely destroyed", Chris Albin-Lackey, Researcher on Nigeria at Human Rights Watch.

"It’s like after electing a governor you are sending him to Harvard to learn how to govern. They should be courageous enough to sack him so that it can be business as usual. Ribadu is not indispensable; they should not play on the intelligence of Nigerians; sending him to Kuru is a ruse", Femi Falana, President West Africa Bar Association.

"the removal of Nuhu Ribadu is not about the removal of one individual. We are talking about signals, portents for future conduct, about the erosion of credibility, abandonment of principle, all of which of course transcend any individual. The timing, when viewed with the recent call to re-open the case-files of unsolved political murders, will be regarded as a coincidence only by starry-eyed innocents from space – good luck to them. Those of us who have the slightest knowledge of behind-the-scenes manipulations since the trail of detection moved ever closer to the very apex of governance under the past regime, know that the nation was being brought closer and closer to the dismantling of one of the most sinister and corrupt governance machines that this nation has ever confronted – including even the incontinent reign of Sanni Abacha. Ribadu’s removal is therefore not an individual predicament. The situation here does not permit of the familiar cliche of any one individual being less than an institution or agency – no, that is not the issue! The issue is that an effective agency has been tampered with, unnecessarily, but with transparent motivations that constitute an assault on the corporate integrity of the nation. The trust of the nation has been abused - that is the issue. Instead of reinforcing the autonomy of an organization that is clearly dedicated to probity and political integrity, notice has been sent to all four corners of the nation, and to the international community that, at the slightest threat to the hegemony of corrupt rule, the credibility of even the most laudable institutions will be eroded", Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate.

"Though Ribadu has been associated with the war against corruption and shown enough courage, he also has his own excesses. I am not comfortable with the idea that cleansing the society from corrupt activities should be built around an individual. That is wrong, the war against corruption should be built around institution”, Prof Itse Sagay (SAN).

“Yar’Adua is not doing the right thing. He is not fighting corruption. Yar’Adua is PDP and PDP is corruption. He has done nothing against corruption since he came in. The most corrupt elements in PDP want to get rid of Ribadu and Yar’Adua has succumbed to them. Corruption is the fundamental problem of Nigeria. God sent Ribadu and he is the greatest asset against corruption. If you remove him, we are back to square one. His removal is very sad”, Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), Human Rights Activist

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Truncating EFCC Programme?

Why is the police heirachy interested in sending the EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, for a training now? why now that there are so many 'high profile' cases in court and planned arrest of some 'powerful' ex-governors?
I quite appreciate the need to improve his CV and get him updated but i feel the timing of this course will be perceived to be political.
Can't Ribadu attend the one-year course after conclusion of investigations into allegations of corruption levelled against some 'untouchable' ex-public office holders?

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Unending disasters

How long will pipeline explosions continue to occur before Nigerians learn their lessons? Agreed there is so much poverty in the land but must we survive by laying down our lives?
The latest pipeline fire disaster in Victoria Island area of Lagos which claimed over 50 lives is an evidence that something is wrong with our system.
Given the ignorance of locals of areas where these pipelines are laid, government authorities ought to have stepped up efforts to check further deaths from these disasters.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Presido's Daughter

I want to sit on the fence and allow the relevant authorities carryout their investigations regarding allegations of corruption levelled against the former president's daughter, Iyabo Bello-Obasanjo.
I think her defense is self explanatory.

"I know Prince Awofisayo. Sometime ago, he invited me to be part of a business he wanted to do. Some of these proposals work, other times they don’t. Prince said I should not worry, that he would fund the entire project. I told him since I was a commissioner, it could raise issues of conflict of interest. We agreed to go into the business all the same. Prince formed a company and did all the ground work. We agreed that I should use a different name, yes, because in law there is nothing wrong with that. Even the arbitration panel in Paris, on which a judge of the high court of England sat, agreed that legally, there was nothing wrong in that.
"The company put in bids for the power projects without any input from me. It went through a normal, transparent process. I didn’t even know anybody at NEPA, so I could not have influenced anything. The company won the contracts. It is true that I used a pseudonym. It was Prince Awofisayo who funded the whole project. I did not put in a penny and I did not receive a penny from it.
"The truth will come out someday. This is pure blackmail. Because their business relationship has gone bad now, they now want to drag me in an unnecessary controversy. This is unfair. They are trying to use the media to destroy me because I am Obasanjo’s daughter. Does it mean because I am Obasanjo’s daughter, I cannot do anything again in this country? I have worked hard all my life. I am a PhD holder by dint of hard work. Does it mean I cannot even do anything again in my life without people trying to make a big issue out of it?"

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Yuletide Gift for Another 'Idol'?

The EFCC is sure making frantic efforts to cover up for the few weeks of 'inactivity' when President Umar Yaradua came into office. Many had actually concluded that the anti-corruption agency had been practically 'grounded' as its investigations into allegations of corruption levelled against some former public office holders were 'put on hold'.
The EFCC is however defiant and is ready to hand another yuletide gift to a former governor of Anambra State, Chris Ngige. Ngige's sin is allegedly operating a 'security account' running into 5 billion naira.
Ngige was quizzed last night and might eventually be charged when the public holidays are over.
If eventually docked, Ngige will wear jersey number 8 of ex-governors in EFCC team and will queue behind James Ibori and Ayodele Fayose in the list of 'executive political detainees' handed yuletide gifts.
What still baffles me is that a curious look at the list, apart from James Ibori of Delta, only perceived enemies of the former administration are being arraigned. What has happened to allegations of corruption also hanging on the anointed sons of the former president?

Monday, 17 December 2007

Yuletide Gifts for Idols

Its yuletide period and many Nigerians look foward to this as it affords some the opportunity to change their wardrobe, travel to see their folks in the villages, party and rest. Its also time for family heads to spend some quality time with their families.
This is however not the case for some of our 'idols'. This is because they will only be opportuned to agonise within the four walls of their various detention centres.
This is the pathetic case of two ex-governors; James Ibori of Delta state and Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State. Ayodele Fayose today joined the growing list of ex-governors to be charged to court by the economic and financial crimes commission while his colleague, James Ibori was refused bail by a federal high court sitting in Kaduna. Both men will re-appear in court between 10th and 11th January, 2008.
In years past, this was unimaginable. they were demi-gods, wielding so much power and influence...but how time changes. For their numerous supporters, this is bad news, for their political opponents, the rule of law is at work and to we journalists, a headline news.
I know what it means to have a loved one behind bars during the yuletide. My friends, Kleo Otawo and Klem Ofuokwu (formerly of Rhythm 93.7fm, Port Hracourt) spent 2005 Christmas and New Year in Port Harcourt prison for broadcasting a news report. Klem had just been married for two can imagine the agony his wife went through during that dark period.
But my worries are the security concerns over planned protests against the court's refusal to grant Ibori bail. Security agencies have already beefed up security in the Niger Delta.
Can we for once allow the judiciary do its work and allow Ibori to clear his name as he has declared?

Friday, 14 December 2007

Merger of Graft Agencies

Am watching with keen interest the planned merger of all anti-graft agencies.
Justice Minister, Michael Aondoaka's hint should be taken seriously. this is given his penchant for adhering strictly to his 'masters' game plan.
The EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau, has never demostrated any conflict of interest from my own observation. How come allegations that they are now duplicating functions?
Could this be one of the strategies to weaken the anti-graft agencies? ohh..maybe Aondoaka will finally bring the agencies under his 'control' so they dont overstep their bounds again.
Am watching curiously to see how events unfold.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Ibori Trial

It's good to know that the trial of the ex-governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori, has started at along last.
He has pleaded 'not guilty' to the 103 charges of corruption, money laundering and abuse of office...he couldn't have done less.
This is a real test case for the judiciary as the EFCC has bailed itself by bringing him to the dock.
What becomes of Aondoaka's office? will he continue with his pranks and delay Ibori's trial? if he does, 'his master' will continue to cool his heels in detention unless he converts his 'bribe money' of $15 million to hire lawyers from space.
Why the 'special' priviledge given him to 'stand alone' in corruption trial in Kaduna? maybe to speed up his journey to jail i guess.
Why did his arrest coincide with president Yar'Adua's trip to the US? could the president have instructed otherwise or did he play a fast one on his alleged election sponsor?

All Hail Voiding of Public Act

The Apeal Court ruling voiding the Public Order Act which law enforcement agents used over the years to humilate, maim, intimidate and jail innocent Nigerians is commendable.
This progressive ruling has furthered strenghtened the hope of the common man in the nation's judiciary which has recently woken from 'slumber' to its civic and constitutional duties.
It's unthinkable in the past to defy the Public Order Act to hold rallies and congresses but alas its uhuru for activists who can assemble anywhere and anytime to express themselves.
What then happens to victims of the Public Order Act? Any form of compensation from government? Can they go to court to seek public apology? Or do we see their ordeal as sacrifice for the restoration of the rule of law?

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Yar'Adua political future

Today's arrest of ex-governor of Delta State, James Ibori, by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has further thrown open Nigeria's political equation.
I have been thinking aloud since the news broke this morning over the political implications of Ibori's arrest.
I understand he is one of the alleged "secret financiars" of Yaradua's presidential campaign and his dividend...immunity from arrest and prosecution.
The presidential election petition tribunal has already been inundated with all manner of evidences to ensure cancellation of last April's presidential polls which has been dubbed the most fraudulent in Nigeria's history.
If i may ask...will president Yaradua survive the political onslaught that awaits him having stepped on many powerful toes? will Ibori and other aggrieved political gladiators spill the beans so they dont drown alone?
Can someone educate me more so i can solve these knotty equations before me?