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Death Knell Sounds on Ex-Governors… Nyame, Dariye Jailed… Kalu, Shema Next

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By Eric Elezuo

This is not the best of times for ex-governors undergoing prosecution for one financial offence or another as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is beginning to get convictions against offenders.

This gradual turn of events for Nigerian former governors may portend a good wind that blows everyone a lot of good. In a space of two weeks, two former governors bit the dust after a long drawn trial when they were sentenced to 14 years imprisonment each by Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Abuja Federal High Court.

First to be painted with the mud of political waterloo was the ‘reverend’ former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame, who was convicted for stealing N1.6 billion belonging to Taraba State.

The ex-governor, whose trial started in 2007, was convicted on a total of 27 out of the 41 counts preferred against him, and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment with the highest being 14 years for offences bordering on criminal breach of trust, criminal misappropriation, taking valuable thing without consideration and receiving gratification as a public officer.

Luckily enough for the Pentecostal clergy, who betrayed the dictates of his calling, the sentences are to run concurrently.

In her ruling, the no nonsense judge, Justice Banjoko, who took between 9.51am and about 2.05pm to read out her judgement, sentenced him to the maximum punishment of 14 years for criminal breach of trust, without an option of fine.

She sentenced him to the maximum sentence of two years for misappropriation, seven years for receiving gratification and five years for “obtaining valuable thing without consideration.”

The sentences were the maximum provided by the laws under which Nyame was charged in May 2007.

The judge, while dismissing his lawyer’s plea for mercy, described the act of the convict as likely to be the most “audacious” by any chief executive of a state.

Barely two weeks after the celebrated trial, Justice Banjoko slammed another 14 years maximum jail term on another former state chief executive, Chief Joshua Dariye of Plateau State.

Dariye was convicted on 11 counts bordering on criminal breach of trust and sentenced to 14years imprisonment, the maximum sentence provided for by the law. He was also convicted on four counts bordering on criminal misappropriation and sentenced to two years imprisonment, the maximum allowed. The judge however held that the sentences would run concurrently, meaning Dariye would spend a maximum of 14 years in prison.

Aside the ecological funds, Dariye was also found guilty of criminal breach of trust as regards N204 million, N53.6 million and N21 million being funds of Plateau State Government.

The court ordered the EFCC to repatriate the N80m and other funds recovered during investigation to the coffers of Plateau State government. The court however did not make any pronouncement on the N100m said to be paid to Marine Float, a company said to be owned by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, as the court was told EFCC was still investigating the matter.

In the over six-hour-long judgment, Justice Banjoko held that the evidence of Inspector Peter Clerk, a retired officer of the Metropolitan Police (London), revealed that Dariye jumped bail and was declared wanted but that the Metropolitan Police had to relax their pursuit of him, when they were informed the EFCC had started his prosecution. He had told the court how investigation of fraudulent activities on Dariye’s nine accounts with Barclays Bank had led to the former governor’s arrest and questioning on money laundering.

The court was told that the funds seized from Dariye were later forfeited and repatriated to Nigeria through the Attorney General of the Federation.

While sentencing him, Banjoko held that the court wonders at the level of “systematic stealing of over half a billion from the state’s accounts,” adding that “Even through the statements of accounts tendered before the court, there were random dates the defendant (Dariye) was richer than the state; he could bail out the state”.

The N1.1bn meant for special ecological intervention in the state, was spent as follows: N100m for PDP S/West collected by Yomi Edu, former Minister of Special Duties; N100m for PDP N/East credited to Marine Float; N66m for PDP in Plateau shared among the 274 wards.

Others are former deputy Senate president, Ibrahim Mantu who pocketed N10m; Pinnacle Communications got N250m and Ebenezer Retina Ventures, a company owned by Dariye was credited with N176m; and N80m paid to Union Savings & Homes was later traced to Dr. Kingsley Ikuma, the Permanent Secretary of Ecological Funds as bribe to secure the release of the cheque.

Dariye, however, claimed he was misled, and questioned if there is any saint in Nigeria.

Basking in the euphoria surrounding the two convictions, the EFCC says it is intensifying its efforts to bring to book not only ex-governors, but as many that has siphoned Nigeria’s commonwealth. It maintained that the two convicted ex-governors are members of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), a situation that vindicates the anti-graft agency of complicity in its activities.

EFCC spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said the convictions had “put a lie to the often repeated charge by critics and cynics that the EFCC (the prosecutor) is lukewarm in prosecuting chieftains of the ruling party for corruption’’.

It would be recalled that Dariye won the election to the Senate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but decamped to the ruling party when he realized he was heading to prison. His party affiliation has not helped matters.

The conviction has given the commission the impetus to continue the prosecution of others, believing that they stand a chance of success.

Former governors Orji Kalu of Abia, Shema of Katsina State, Jonah Jang of Plateau among others was still undergoing prosecution in court by the EFCC irrespective of the political parties they belong.

“Rather than entertain idle gossips who thrive on haranguing the EFCC with charges of selectivity, these two recent convictions offer Nigerians the opportunity to better appreciate the efforts and sacrifices of the commission,” the EFCC spokesman said

He said, “Mistakes were made, my Lord, should this man be punished by our mistakes? My Lord, appeals against your judgment hardly succeed. When we get there (appellate and apex courts), they tell us you were right in your judgment, so we are appealing for a non-custodial sentencing.”

It would also be recalled that a former Governor of Adamawa State, Mr. James Ngilari and former Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Sule Lamido, were once convicted, but let loose later.

On July 9 and 10, the Katsina State High Court will commence ruling on the matter brought before it by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over alleged money laundering levelled against the former Governor of the state, Ibrahim Shehu Shema, to the tune of N11 billion.

The presiding Judge of the Court, Justice Ibrahim Maikaita, reserved the ruling on the issue after intense arguments by the legal teams of the EFCC and that of the former governor and three others.

Former Abia and Plateau states governors, Orji Uzo Kalu and Jonah Jang respectively are in and out of court answering questions on embezzlement and other sundry crimes as brought about by the EFCC.

The way it is now, the prisons may begin to swell up with the presence of former state executives. This is provided that straightforward judges like Justice Banjoko, who appeals against her judgments ‘hardly succeed’ will preside at all times.

 

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Morning after 25th February 2023 Presidential Election: A Qualitative Trend Analysis by Iyorwuese Hagher

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It is morning on 26th February 2023 in Nigeria. The previous day, the nation stood still, as voters queued at their polling stations to exercise their civic duties to elect Nigerian’s next President. With the new BVAS, the voting, collating and transmission of votes were concluded speedily. The political parties were in their situation rooms, watching throughout the night with deep skepticism the INEC portal and news rooms. In Abuja as in all the thirty six states, Nigerians stayed awake, glued to their Televisions sets, and hand-held devices. Politicians hardly make good historians. They had learnt nothing and forgotten nothing!
The citizens await the results in fear. They are rightly afraid that electing a wrong party, and wrong candidate would push Nigeria over the cliff to total collapse as a failed state where there is no government, and war-lords divide the country, and inflict on the hapless citizens the reign of unmitigated terror.

But outside the homes, on the streets, in the inner cites, and the suburbs, the social media had finished tallying the votes and a winner had emerged. The _Obidients_ began to celebrate the victory of Mr. Peter Obi whom the social media gave the winning votes 55,850,000 or 60% of total votes cast, winning in 20 states while Atiku Abubakar came second 23,250,000 or 25% of votes cast and winning in 10 states. The social media relegated Bola Ahmed Tinubu to the third position, winning in six states with 13,950,000 and 15% of total votes cast. In their results, all 93 million registered voters had cast their votes! The _Obidients_ denounced any announcement by INEC which was contrary to their released results. They threatened mayhem and bedlam if another “rigged” result was announced. The celebration by the _Obidients_ was short-lived, for soon enough, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, addressed the Nation at 7am.

In his address, he discloses that only about 40% of registered voters had cast their votes the previous day. This is higher than in 2019 when only 31% of registered voters voted. The INEC Chairman has declared the Presidential Candidate of the PDP, Alh. Atiku Abubakar, as the winner of the Presidential Election 2023 with a total of 18,721,167 popular votes, which was 52.3% of total votes and won in 19 states and the FCT. Bola Ahmed Tinubu of APC, came second with 15,692,950 popular votes being 30% of total votes cast and won in ten states. Peter Obi of the Labour Party has scored 9,367,481 popular votes, and scored 18% of total votes cast and won in six states. This is the final verdict having the imprimatur of the INEC Chairman.

In Jagaban’s Campaign Headquarters, there is deep silence and mourning. The people are whispering and urging his doctor and his wife to wake him up to address his supporters on the next line of action. He had been sedated earlier, to calm him and curb his propensity to tantrums and bellicosity. After more than 15 minutes argument with his wife and doctor, the Jagaban agrees to address the press. Many of his supporters are gathered in his situation room at Maitama Abuja, where he has spent the last 24 hours, sleepless, monitoring the Presidential Election and its results. The supporters were caps bearing his insignia of snake devouring its tail, a cultic symbol of infinity. The defeat highlights the irony of the infinity, as cyclical failure. The Jagaban is assisted to the podium and as he faces the barrage of microphones and cameras from different news outlets; the nation holds its breath. He had declared at the beginning of his ambition that the nation owed him his life ambition to be President. He had announced that it was his turn now, “Emi lokan”, no matter whose ox was gored. Nigerians now wait in trepidation and hope that he would do the right thing telling his supporters that Nigerians have spoken.

But the Jagaban does no such thing. He looks left and right, then stares ominously into the cameras and microphones. He coughs in his clenches fist and says: “Tell Buhari he has done his worst. I don’t forgive traitors. Tell the hackers from Russia they are refuse dumps. It is my turn. ‘Emi lokan, Emi lokan’. It is my money”.

He glowers at his aides and yells, “Tell all my supporters this revolution has just started”. He defiantly walks past his wife, and his running-mate, and intentionally pushes away his Campaign Director General. He slowly, ambles away like an enormous crocodile that has been denied its meal. With his head held high and his eyes blazing like hot embers, the Jagaban mutters, in murderous rage, to himself: “It’s a Revolution”. It is at this point that his security guards escort him to his campaign war-room.

At Atiku Abubakar’s Campaign Headquarters, (AACO) scores of thousands of supporters have taken over the building and the adjoining streets in Wuse II, Abuja. Different bands are blaring Atikulated and Okowalated songs. Atiku Abubakar’s face is passive, enigmatic, and bland. His age-old emotional shock-absorbers have kicked in to prevent the exultant emotions from overflowing, even at triumphant moment of sweet victory. He becomes excited when Peter Obi calls to concede defeat and offer his congratulations. He welcomes him as a long-lost brother, saying: “My brother this victory is also your victory. It is Nigeria’s victory my brother, it is time to rebuild the nation”.

Senator Bukola Saraki, and Governor Aminu Tambuwal follow, as the PDP National Chairman, Sen. (Dr.) Iyorchia Ayu, leads the president-elect to the 5th floor, of the Command and Control Centre, which had been set up in anticipation of this victory acceptance speech.
The World Media awaits with intensity, to hear this acceptance speech of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. It is the moment the world has waited for. The return of the PDP in a free election in Nigeria, is proof of the stability and elasticity of Nigeria’s democracy when the ruling party is defeated again. The world sees a rejuvenated Atiku, confident and smiling now. He says, in a presidential voice, he owes his victory to God Almighty, and thanks all the Nigerian voters who had turned up in an unprecedented manner to exercise their civic rights. He especially thanks those who voted for the other candidates. He promises them that he would also be their president. It is time now to heal the wounds of division and to build the bridges of Nigeria’s diversity. He thanks his fellow contestants and tells the world that the problems of the country are such that no individual, nor party has all the solutions. He is going to run a government of National Unity, where there will be political inclusiveness. “Winner takes all has been Un-African and undemocratic,” he assures. He acknowledges the telephone call from Peter Obi, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, and the other presidential candidates. He thanks his Campaign Council and promises the nation that his victory is the new beginning Nigerians have been waiting for and that he would not fail them. He also thanks President Buhari whom he called “the father of Electoral Integrity in Nigeria” and calls on history to be kind to him for his legacy in electoral reforms.

Outside on the streets in Lagos, Osun, and Imo states, INEC offices are up in flames as thousands of demonstrators set up barricades and armed bandits take over; looting, maiming and instilling fear in the citizenry, with sinister cries of “Revolution”. Nigerians are afraid. Politicians disguise themselves and frantically begin to explore exit routes to just anywhere else! Nigerians stay in their homes, throughout 26th February. There is fear everywhere.

It is now the turn of President Buhari to address the nation. He makes a passionate plea to the candidates to call their supporters to order. He says, “elections are not wars” and that “no person’s ambition is worth anybody’s life”. He consequently orders the military to clear the streets, and end the destruction of life and property. He calls on the governors to impose curfews in those states where violence has broken out. The President pleads with Nigerians, especially those that did not win, to accept the rules of the game, and the verdict of INEC. The military pulls out its tanks into the streets as evening wears out. Sirens and gunfire are heard as the “day after” comes to an end. END OF SCENARIO.

The above scenario, painted on the backdrop of qualitative futuristic canvas, is perhaps the best prediction of the coming Presidential Election. It is the most consequential election that Nigerians will hold, to pull their country from eight years of APC misrule when all NIgeria’s fault lines, became wide cracks, and threatened to suck us into our worst national fear. All Nigerians are afraid that their country might become a critically failed state, a giant Afghanistan in the centre of Africa. If the Jagaban wins instead of Atiku, Nigeria’s religious divide will become an open chasm. Just like the Kaduna Muslim-Muslim experiment has been an open wound of terrorism and religious extremism, a Jagaban President will, people fear, become the gloating of Islam over Christianity, and the Nigerian exceptionalism in managing the delicate balance between Christianity and Islam would be lost forever. A full scale religious war would be expected such as John Campbell had earlier predicted in 2011. If the Jagaban wins, the lopsided electoral votes of the South-West and North-West, would now become a permanent relay of power as one North-Western Zone President would deftly hand over to the South-Western Zone President. All other four zones would be excluded in the bare-faced disregard of the zones created specifically for power sharing. A Jagaban victory would be a dreadful and grotesque power grab of money politics that is blind to disability, incapacity and shameful character flaws. The Jagaban phenomenon represents the emergence of a demagogue, whose politics is a horrific politician’s politics, where power is privatized and appropriated to serve private interests. Electing the Jagaban, is to elect the Nigerian version of a doting Paul Biya, where arbitrary power is exercised by a corrupt coterie, and democracy is lost forever! Atiku Abubakar’s victory on the other hand should be regarded as victory for Nigeria and the reality of zoning. There is justice and equity in the North-East zone producing the next president. The South-East should be expectant next. It is unhelpful when sabre-rattling governors talk about the North-South dichotomy and cry about equity and justice. They are merely being self-serving within their convoluted colonial mentality. Equity is no longer a matter of North and South. It is zonal, where power is zoned rotated among the six geographical and political zones. With all the mud, dung, and grime that had been flung at Atiku Abubakar during the campaign period by opponents, it is my hope that Nigerians will now see the real Atiku, as an underprivileged peasant boy, whose grass to grace story, inspires the next great Nigerian generation. Atiku as Vice-President and consummate politician has capacity, ability and vision deserving of victory. With Atiku as President we can advance democratic multi-culturalism to confront sectarian fundamentalism, because he is cosmopolitan and not a hero of locality nor ethnic bigot. The PDP through Atiku has learnt its lesson. It is not seeking to conquer power as the APC, but rather to transform it to give the citizens rights that the APC government eroded and left Nigerians, poorer, uneducated, unprotected, afraid, and deeply insecure.Atiku is well aware that politics is for the strong, who must endure stupid criticism, and judgment from very annoying characters like the corruption embattered former Minister of Aviation, and some disgruntled governors within his party. He is under-girded with a solid stoic personality, whose mien is unperturbed by stupid things, silly things, aggressive things of people’s perceptions of him. This is the time! This is his time! Finally, Atiku must engage in serious nation building, manage change, and the constantly changing Nigerian environment. He must intentionally seek better ways of making Nigeria great by advancing growth, equity, inclusiveness, peace, compassion and integrity.

Prof Iyorwuese Hagher

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Winners Get Glo Festival of Joy Promo Prizes in Onitsha

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Several lucky and loyal Glo subscribers in Onitsha, Anambra State, were on Tuesday presented with various prizes, including a brand new car in the company’s ongoing Festival of Joy promo.
The car was won by a 30-year-old Construction Technician, Chukwuemeka Chikezie. Many other Nigerians also went home with different prizes such as power generating sets, sewing machines and rechargeable fans.
Chikezie, who was impaired in his left arm from a job related accident he had in 2019, disclosed that when he was called the previous day following the draws, he was working on a project in Enugu, far away from his Onitsha base. Despite that, he found it difficult that he could become an instant car winner just like that.
Till he got the keys to the car on Wednesday at an elaborate ceremony held at the Gloworld premises at Conoil station, Onitsha Bridgehead, Chikezie was hesitant to believe he had become a car owner.
“If anyone had told me yesterday that I would be a car owner today, I would never have believed”, he said, adding that “I love the Glo network very well and I have always depended on it for my calls and data needs”.
Hon. (Mrs) Beverly Ikpeazu-Nkemdiche, representing Onitsha South 2 Constituency, Anambra State House of Assembly, disclosed that her first number upon returning to Nigeria some years ago, was a Glo number. She commended Globacom for its support to its subscribers through the life changing prizes in the promo.
Representative of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Mr Ezelue Nnamdi, said the Commission was happy with Globacom for its transparency in the conduct of the promo draws and the presentation of prizes to winner.
The Transition Chairman, Onitsha South Local Govt Area, Anambra State, Hon. Emeka Orji, expressed happiness that the event was held within his jurisdiction. He commended Globacom for putting the promo in place.

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We’re Not ‘Officially Aware’ of Anyone Working Against Tinubu’s Victory – FG

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The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said it was not “officially aware” of any entity in the Presidential Villa working against the victory of the All Progressives Congress’ flag bearer, Bola Tinubu. It also said that President, Muhammadu Buhari was neither favouring nor disfavouring any presidential candidate ahead of the February 25 election.

“If there’s anybody who is working against any candidate, we don’t know officially,” the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, told State House Correspondents after this week’s Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by the President at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, alleged that some “elements” in Aso Rock are working against Tinubu’s emergence as President.

El-Rufai, who spoke on a Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, explained that the persons in question were aggrieved that Tinubu defeated their candidate in the June 2022 APC presidential primary.

He cited the naira redesign policy as one of several schemes targeted at the APC presidential candidate, Tinubu, who also made a similar claim a week earlier.

According to El-Rufai, “I believe there are elements in the Villa that want us to lose the election because they didn’t get their way; they had their candidate. Their candidate did not win the primaries.

“They are trying to get us to lose the election, and they are hiding behind the President’s desire to do what he thinks is right. I will give two examples: this petroleum subsidy, which is costing the country trillions of Naira, was something that we all agreed would be removed.

“In fact, I discussed with the President and showed him why it had to go. Because how can you have a capital budget of N200b for federal roads and then spend N2 Trillion on petroleum subsidy? This was a conversation I had with the President in 2021 when the subsidy thing started rising. He was convinced. We left. It changed. Everyone in the government agreed, and it changed.

“The second example I will give is this currency redesign. You have to understand the President. People are blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for the currency redesign, but No. You have to go back and look at the first outing of Buhari as President.

“He did this; the Buhari-Idiagbon regime changed our currency and did it in secrecy with a view to catching those that are stashing away illicit funds. It is a very good intention. The President has his right. But doing it at this time within the allotted time does not make any political or economic sense.”

But fielding a question on the issue on Wednesday, Mohammed argued that the Buhari-led government has been fair to all candidates regardless of party affiliations.

He said, “On a more serious note, one thing I can assure you is that, no matter who, this administration is focused and determined to ensure a free and fair election. And I think this administration, and for that matter now, the most important person in this regard is Mr. President.

“I think he has shown by words and deed that he is committed to a free, fair and credible election. And fair, free and credible elections mean not favouring or disfavouring anybody.

“Everywhere he goes, he makes that very clear, even as recently as Friday, when he was in Daura. He said the same thing. So if there’s anybody who’s working against any candidate, we don’t know officially.”

Speaking in Ogun State last Wednesday, the APC presidential candidate alleged plans to sabotage the coming election.

Tinubu cited the naira redesign policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the lingering fuel crisis and as part of plots to thwart the polls and his expected victory.

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