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$6bn Mambilla Scam: Release Agunloye Now, Soyinka Tells EFCC

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Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka on Monday, demanded the immediate release of a former Minister of Power and Steel, Dr Olu Agunloye by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the alleged $6 billion Mambilla Hydro Power project scam.

The EFCC had declared Agunloye wanted over the $6 billion Mambilla Hydro Power project, and later took him into custody when he showed up at the agency’s office.

Soyinka, in a statement on Monday titled: “In Pursuit of Justice, Productivity, under the Rule of Law,” called on the EFCC to release Agunloye or detain all those directly or indirectly implicated in that Mambilla fiasco.

“In the meantime, the EFCC should release all its prisoners or, in the alternative, equally arrest and detain all those involved in this mammoth scam that has deprived the “GIANT OF AFRICA” the basic survival facility for a twenty-first-century society. One chicken in the coop is a travesty of justice and a deplorable lack of nerve.

“Release Agunloye, or detain all those directly or indirectly implicated in that fiasco. The preening and posturing of EFCC has served its purpose, it is time to now divert it to a productive end –  bringing closure on the one hand, and also opening up new channels of productive fulfillment for a stressed and distressed nation,” Soyinka demanded.

According to Soyinka, the immediate provocation for these reflections is ongoing predicament of a former Minister of Power, Agunloye, currently detained by the EFCC, in total contempt of sense and justice, or indeed, basic humane considerations.

“We shall not go into the merit or demerits of the charges raised against him over a 16-year-old project that bears the name Mambilla. – that is the business of the law courts. Our concern at this moment is however only partially on the basis of individual Fundamental Human Rights.

“Most fortuitously, the detention of any former public servant under circumstances such as Agunloye also provokes the question: how is public interest – such as the pursuit of justice – served by such an arbitrary exercise of power?

“Before the now familiar carping, let me state that this is not the first time I have personally intervened in the high-handed and illegal conduct of the EFCC. All the way back to its inception, and public enthusiasm over its mission, I have had cause to use every means to promote and facilitate the success of that mission, while at the same time insisting on the organization’s operation under the law and citizen entitlement,” he stated.

Soyinka said his personal relations with the EFCC included placing the civic organization in which he is involved in an active relationship with that corruption-fighting agency, even to the existence of an MOU of collaboration.

He said from the time when intoxicated by righteous zeal, the EFCC in its early years attacked the home and offices of a businessman with a bulldozer, destroying and carrying off valuable equipment, he tackled its then director and demanded civilized usage in opposition to brute force.

The Nobel laureate added that it was this that impelled him to facilitate bringing to Nigeria President Kagame of Rwanda to lecture on how he tackled a deep-seated corruption culture among public servants.

“That was effected in the context of a conference on that very theme at the dedication of new offices of EFCC. I have never hidden my commitment to the operations of any corruption-fighting agency, including EFCC’s predecessor, the ICPC.

“Those credentials are stated to forestall any time-wasting and distracting interventions – let us now get down to immediate, and nation affective missteps by that same EFCC. The resort to “Trial or Smear by Media” of the most sensationalist kind, launched against the person of Dr. Olu Agunloye is unworthy and reprehensible.

“Most critically – and I want both governance and citizenry to understand this – it is counterproductive. It inhibits genuine inclination by proficient citizens for public service. That is a lamentable obstacle on the way to any nation’s development,” he said.

Soyinka added: “WANTED? Just what is that?  Olu Agunloye has pursued his movements openly to the extent of being present and photographed at my sister’s funeral on December 8. He did not appear in disguise, did not sneak in and out. He functioned as any normal human being at an event at which the Press was present.

“Less than thirty-six hours later, he was declared WANTED: If that was an EFCC joke, it was in extremely bad taste, obviously designed for Social Media sensationalism, not for any serious crime-solving commitment.

“Nonetheless, Agunloye, as a dutiful citizen, issued a statement on his visibility and ready compliance. He promised to show up at the EFCC offices in Abuja the following day. He appeared, and was promptly arrested and detained.

“The information I have been able to obtain during the past two days of my return to the country is that the Head of the EFCC declared that he would release him only on the instructions of the President of the Nation.”

Soyinka asked: “True or false? I am not in the game of “He said, I said”.  What matters is the murky exercise of power. I have had cause to intervene before this, all the way from Are, through Ribadu and Magu, that last until he stopped taking my calls. The present however transcends all other interventions, as it involves certain issues of national interest, in tandem with the evident issues of fundamental citizen rights.

“Put succinctly, I wish to claim that finally, after so many years of frustration, the nation is being offered an opportunity to put the Mambilla Project to rest, be it through terminal abandonment or resuscitation, corralling its lessons in fulfilling one of the most basic conditions for national industrial development with private creative input – addressing frontally and holistically the basic question of sustainable supply of power.

“In addition – and I concede that this is a personal, yet national concern. We stand a chance to finally solve a nation’s high-profile murder case, this being none other than that of Bola Ige, also prior minister of Power under President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“Let this be understood. The murder of Bola Ige, plus a monumental act of sabotage that took place under Ige’s watch, involving the loss of some engineers, was linked to massive corruption that underlay the Mambilla collapse.”

According to Soyinka, it is time to end the deception, the cynical cover-ups, the blame passing, the diversionary utterances, and the now open admission of corporate corruption with high reaches of power.

He called for a non-partisan Commission that would sit in public, take evidence, ask questions, and cross-examine witnesses over even one year if necessary.

“After all, this massive failure has gone on for nearly two decades. We can spare one more year, surely to lay bare the ugly face of Truth, then let the public do what it will with the revelations. The cycle of self-deception has gone on far enough. Let the two legislative chambers take the bull by the horns to end the charade, cut our losses, and move on,” he said.

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High Society Present As Rotimi Akeredolu’s Laid to Rest in Owo

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By Eric Elezuo

The ancient town of Owo, Ondo State on Friday was a beehive of activities as it played host to dignitaries and citizens from all walks of life who stormed the town to grace the final burial ceremony of the late former governor of the state, Alakunri Rotimi Akeredolu.

The funeral service held at the St. Andrew’s Cathedral Anglican Church, Imola, Owo, Ondo State.

Akeredolu died on Wednesday December 27, 2023 during a protracted illness in German hospital.

The Vice President, Kashim Shettima, was among the dignitaries, who attended the funeral service at the church, and thereafter.

Other dignitaries whose presence were noted are the Ondo State Governor, Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa; Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde; Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki; Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Ganduje among others.

Others were former governor of Ondo State, Segun Mimiko; governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun and members of the Ondo State House of Assembly, federal law makers among others.

The late former governor was interred at a burial ground in the town, at a brief ceremony that was strictly attended only by the immediate members of the Akeredolu family before a grand reception was held.

In his speech at the burial, the state Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, who was Akeredolu’s deputy, said his former boss always stood for good governance and the rule of law.

“You are all here because he stood for something: good governance and the rule of law. He means a lot to different people, and that is why he has been described in different words. He was a courageous leader, a fighter, and a warrior. How can we forget him so soon? It is not possible because he lives on.

“He used the instrument of governance to intervene in different sectors of the state, including education, health services, and infrastructural development and security, among others,” he said.

Photos: Koya Adegbite

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Osun Gov, Adeleke, Loses Brother-in-Law

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A brother-in-law of the governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, Alhaji Tohir Aderemi Sanni, has died.

Alhaji Sanni is the husband of Governor Adeleke’s sister, Chief (Mrs.) Modupeola Adeleke Sanni.

Meanwhile, the Osun Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has commiserated with the bereaved, Mrs Sanni over the loss of her husband.

In statement signed by the state party chairman, Hon. Sunday Bisi, the party  described the news of the death as extremely sad and shocking, adding that the late business mogul was too good to depart at this time.

The statement reads:

“Osun PDP is really in short of words over the loss of a loving father and friend of our great party, Alhaji Aderemi Sanni, whose carriage exuded love beyond borders. He was a friendly father, so accommodating to a fault!”

“Alhaji Sanni would not hold back words of advice to anyone, no matter the societal disparity in class or status. Baba lived like a friend to all. He was an embodiment of humility in greatness”

“While we continue to grasp with the reality of the demise of Alhaji Sanni, our thoughts are with his wife, Chief Mrs Modupeola Adeleke, the children and members of the immediate family the great icon left behind”

“May Almighty Allah repose his gentle soul and grant him jannatul firdaus.”

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Lagos Country Club Appeals to Members for Calm

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The Lagos Country Club has appealed to its members and well wishers to remain calm and exercise restraints in the face of the current developments at the Club.

The appeal is coming on the heels of the illegal moves by the Registered Trustees of the Club to suspend the Management Council and constitute an Interim Management Board.

The Management Council made the appeal in a Special Statement to members and staff urging them to go about their activities in the Club without fear.

The Statement assured them of their commitment to upholding the Constitution of the Club, resolving the issues as soon as possible, and providing a safe and enabling environment.

The Chairmen of eight out of the ten sections of the Club have rejected the Interim Management Board arrangement and called on well meaning members of the Club and elders to wade in and explore avenue for peaceful resolution and allow peace to reign.

Meanwhile, His Lordship, Hon Justice Lewis Allagoa of Federal High Court of Nigeria in the Lagos Judicial Division has granted an Interim Injunction restraining the Trustees of Lagos Country Club from dissolving the Management Council of the Lagos Country Club and constituting a Caretaker Committee howsoever called or described.

In line with the order of Court for the status quo to remain, the Management Council remains in charge of the day to day running of the Club.

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