By Eric Elezuo
‘If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us’ happened to be one of the opening lines that heralded President Mohammadu Buhari and his government into office in 2015 shortly after the landmark defeat of the sitting President, Goodluck Jonathan. These lines were applauded by all and sundry, and raised hopes among the teaming Nigerian population that finally a ‘Daniel Has Come to Judgement’ – apologies to Williams Shakespeare in his epic drama, The Merchant of Venice.
The administration has set sail with immediate alacrity, hounding supposed master-minders of financial corruption, and slamming them into jail though with little or no persecution, but a lot of media trial. But the populace applauded all the same, knowing that the best was on the way.
However, things began to take a different turn when it was discovered that only those who were members of the opposition were in the bad books of the Buhari-administration – you automatically become a saint once you cross carpet to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the offence notwithstanding. Then the applause died. It became obvious that there is nothing different between this government and the ones before it.
But much as the events wear down, the Nigerian citizens to discover that even indicted officers were given clean bill of health only because they are members of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet or so they know somebody who know somebody that know the President. That was the tentacles of the imaginary cabal. And for all intent or purpose, the President uttered not a word.
Then came the most embarrassing of them all, supposedly- the return and reinstatement of the indicted former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina. He was on a mission to save the pension scheme as well as the most troubled Police Pension Fund. But the famous KPMG, contracted to do a forensic audit of the Police Fund discovered that PRTT, under Maina had dipped its hands, mismanaging hundreds of millions, and illegally moved billions between banks. It showed that Maina defrauded the Fund of a whopping N21 billion.
In the wake of the probe, Maina had disappeared in 2015, and was declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), only to reappear a few weeks ago in a blaze of glory, with DSS security guiding him, and a double promotion in the Ministry of the Interior to his credit. Then Nigerians raised the alarm and cried foul. Buhai responded with a timid sack, and the war of words began. Trust the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; he immediately blamed the opposition PDP as usual for Maina’s return and reinstatement, saying Jonathan’s men were responsible. Whatever PDP and Jonathan has to do with it.
Many believe that the case of Maina will die off like the ones before because there had been many cases of indicted officers, who had been cleared by the present administration, and are also given plump and juicy administrative positions in the bargain. The following are some of them:
Abdulrahman Danbazzau and Tukur Buratai
Dambazau as a former Chief of Army Staff and Buratai as a former Director of Procurement in the defence headquarters were both indicted for fraud in the procurement of arms and gas while in office.
A probe committee which had been set up principally to robe in another former Army Chief, Major Azubuike Ihejirika, also indicted the two generals who were already holding office in the Buhari government. But according to Dr. Junaid Mohammed, the report of the committee was manipulated to clear the two Buhari men
“The report of the committee was doctored in the presidency by some cabal after it was submitted, to shield Dambazau and Buratai who were allegedly indicted.
“Dambazau is a close ally of Alhaji Mamman Daura, who is President Buhari’s nephew, and also head of the ‘cabal’ in Buhari’s presidency today. Buratai is an ally of Dambazau and President Buhari. So there is no way the presidency will not shield the duo,” he said.
His words: “Why is Ihejirika under any form of detention now? Why is he being harassed, when the presidency is shielding some persons indicted in the report? Is it because he is not president’s ally or not from the North?
“Nigerians should know that as far as the cabal holds sway in Aso Rock, nothing will happen to Dambazua and Buratai.”
The presidency had reacted, saying, Dambazua was not indicted in the report, because during his era as Chief of Army Staff.
“It was after Dambazua left office that his successor took charge of awarding of contracts and procurement in the service. So there is no iota of truth in the allegation that the report was doctored to shield him,” the source said.
The uncovering and report of a massive act of suspected fraud in the sale of Nigeria’s all important crude oil led to the sacking of a former Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Alhaji Mohammed Barkindo, by the then Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan.
Under Barkindo’s watch, more than 125 million barrels of crude oil were diverted between January 2009 and March 2010.
Emerging revelations from the Abuja headquarters of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation indicate that the agency has transformed into the epicentre of sleaze in government administration. Sources in the Presidency confided that the sack of Barkindo, the showy Group Managing Director of the NNPC, is the beginning of the daunting process of unearthing powerful officials that have become institutionalized in the structure and management of the NNPC.
Barkindo, as GMD of the NNPC, in the consideration of oil industry stakeholders, represented the pre-eminence of the group of officials in the NNPC and the larger petroleum ministry, who have continued to expropriate the oil resources of the country for personal gains.
Today, Barkindo is the Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). He was a nominee of the Federal Government of Nigeria for the position, and was chosen at the 13-member OPECl’s 169th conference in Vienna. He replaced Libya’s Abdalla El-Badri.
It came as a surprise when the Police Service Commission (PSC) pronounced a “not guilty” verdict on dismissed Commissioner of Police, CP Zakari Biu, reinstating him to his former position and retiring him statutorily.
The commission said the decision to reinstate Biu was taken during the commission’s 13th plenary meeting where he was cleared of any complicity in Kabiru Sokoto’s escape.
“These decisions were the high points of the 13th plenary meeting of the Commission held in Abuja. The meeting presided over by the Commission’s Chairman, Sir, (Dr.) Mike Mbama Okiro, also exonerated CP Biu from the issues surrounding the escape of Kabiru Sokoto, an arrested Boko Haram kingpin in Abuja,” Ani said.
Zakari was involved in an alleged negligence that resulted in the escape from detention of notorious Boko Haram terrorist, Kabiru Sokoto . Kabiru Sotoko was the Boko Haram terrorist sentenced to life imprisonment for masterminding the 2010 bombing of St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla in which 44 worshippers were killed and 70 others sustained injuries.
Admed Gambo saleh has assumed office as the Executive Secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC). His appointment took effect from July 1, 2017. Saleh takes over from Danladi Haliru, whose tenure elapsed on June 30.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) indicted the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Timipre Sylva stealing funds from the state between 2007 and 2011.
The statement read, “The EFCC on Thursday, January 3, 2013, took possession of 48 properties of the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Timpre Sylva, who is being prosecuted at a Federal High Court in Abuja.
“The interim forfeiture order to attach Sylva’s property was granted by Justice A. R. Mohammed on December 21, 2012.
“Assets belonging to the former governor, against which a forfeiture order was obtained by the EFCC, include a mansion at 3 River Niger Street, Plot 3192 Cadastral Zone AO, Maitama District, Abuja; nine units (comprising six one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments) at 8, Sefadu Street, Wuse, Zone 2, Plot 262 Cadastral Zone AO2, Wuse, Abuja, and two duplexes at 5, Oguta Street, Plot 906 Cadastral Zone, Wuse II, Abuja among others. There were 48 houses in all.
The EFCC subsequently slammed 50 charges against the ex-governor and arraigned him before three Federal High Courts in Abuja.
However, the three courts struck out the case against Sylva, accusing the EFCC of abuse of court processes, and went ahead to restore ownership of the houses to Sylva.
At the last ruling in November 2015, Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court, Abuja, struck out the case on the grounds that it was an abuse of court process.
He thereafter dismissed the case against Sylva.
Like other cases, the Federal Government also withdrew all charges brought against the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Ahmed Saleh, saying its decision was based on information provided during a plea bargain between the prosecution and the defendants.
Mr. Saleh and two others were accused of a N2.2 billion fraud.
The charges, filed by the Attorney General of the Federation, said the accused persons diverted N2.2 billion and received bribes amounting to tens of millions of naira.
When the matter was slated for continuation, the prosecution counsel, Hajara Yusuf, said she had received directives to withdraw the charges.
According to the nine-count charge, the defendants, Ahmed Saleh, Muhammed Sharif, and Rilwanu Lawal diverted N2. 2 billion belonging to the Supreme Court to their personal bank account at the United Bank for Africa, with account number: 2027642863.
The offence was in contravention of Section 10(a) (i) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 and punishable under the same Section of the Act.
The defendants were also charged with contravening the provision of Section 96 of the Penal Code.
The charge also alleged that they obtained gratification totaling N80 million contrary to the ICPC Act.
The Federal Government also alleged that the defendants obtained N2.4million gratification from Welcon Nigeria Ltd, N16million from Dean Musa Nig. Ltd.
The defendants were also alleged to have collected N19million from Ababia Ventures Ltd as gratification.
The companies were private contractors that provided services to the apex court.