To Reap Dividends of Democracy, Nigerians Must Curb Corrupt Governors and Assemblymen By Adebayo Adejare

If this Democracy collapses, Nigerians should recognize those to be held culpable. The lack-luster record of the EFCC in bringing to book 32 indicted Governors (1999-2003) is well known to Nigerians. But the Agency should not bear sole blame for the lapse. Nigerians played into the hands of corrupt Governors by electing late President Umar Yar’Adua, himself a former Governor who took it as his major duty the yeoman’s job of providing cover for his indicted colleagues.
Twelve years into our Democracy, isn’t it a shame that we have failed woefully to enforce gubernatorial accountability? To test our will subsequent Governors are following the corrupt footsteps of their predecessors. The former governors arraigned recently are Gbenga Daniel of Ogun, Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo, Danjuma Goje of Gombe and Aliu Doma of Nasarawa States. Notwithstanding public out-cry, the National Assembly Members still draw outrageous sums from Government coffers as Salary and Allowances but the Lagos State House of Assembly Speaker’s record Five Hundred Million Naira Monthly “disbursements” remain unmatched in the annals of the entire Federation’s Administrative history.
The unconstitutional body called Governors Forum has been used to blackmail and arm-twist the Presidency before, during and after Elections with nothing, absolutely nothing positive to show for its unconstitutional existence. There is nothing like ethics Benchmarks or peer review in their Agenda. Its all about cake-sharing a.k.a. Revenue Allocation. Security vote is as abused today as it was 12 years ago and basic facilities constitutionally within States’ scope of responsibility remain dangerously comatose. Where does all the “allocation” go? Nobody is being indicted in the States for corruption. Its all about EFCC and ICPC and “National” corruption.
But there is now a new dimension to the matter. The Daily Mirror Report of Sunday 23rd October 2011 titled: Corruption trial: Ex-govs set to battle EFCC, Jonathan (Hold secret meetings to perfect strategy * Set aside N25billion budget to prosecute agenda) is indeed frightening. Excerpts from the Report: “Former governors in the country have launched an offensive against the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). For this project, a budget of N25billion has been set aside to prosecute the “war” against the anti-graft agency and the federal government. According to intelligence report submitted to the Presidency, the grouse of the former governors is what a source described as ” attempts by the president and EFCC to demonize and disgrace the office of the governor in the country by the anti-graft agency’s investigation and trial of the former governors.” A presidency source who spoke to Sunday Mirror on condition of anonymity said the former governors have formed a body called the “Association of former Elected Governors’ to prosecute their agenda. They held their inaugural meeting on Tuesday, October 18 in the Maitama residence of a former South-East governor in the second republic. The meeting started at about 6pm and lasted till late in the night,” the source said… “They plan to launch their offensive if the meeting with the president fails to yield any result. They have their fears because some ex-governors had met with the president before the arrest and trial of some ex-governors last week. And since the president did not intervene, they felt they needed to take more drastic steps. Their campaign is three pronged, the first is to discredit the president that he is using the EFCC to intimidate opposition ahead of the 2015 election. The second is to discredit the anti-graft agency as a body that is only interested in arresting former governors, charging them to court and abandoning the cases in court in order to give the impression that the agency only arrested in order to disgrace, that it lacks the will to prosecute conclusively. Lastly, to sponsor a group to institute a legal action to stop the EFCC from extending its power of investigation to the states,” the source explained…”
Although not the sole source of corruption in the system, the ex-Governors have taken upon themselves to cripple Law Enforcement and evade accountability by destroying the EFCC. Most of the travails of the Agency which its current Chairman Mrs Farida Waziri has severally articulated are indeed traceable to the indicted ex-Governors. Section 308 1999 Constitution (immunity from prosecution) is perceived to have tied the hands of EFCC from prosecution during their gubernatorial tenure but since 2003 when some lost immunity, the Agency has been unable to make substantial progress in bringing these corrupt ones to book. With the above Sunday Mirror Report, the Agency has been vindicated. Nigerians can now see that there is indeed trouble ahead. It is a classical case of what Max Siollum has called corruption fighting back.
The Economic and Financial Crimes commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) were set up during President Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency to combat the malaise of corruption and economic crimes including international fraudsters for which Nigerians have become notorious. Funding for establishment came from sympathetic International Organizations and friendly nations.
Eight years after: What is the outcome? The two bodies are far far from reaching the goals for which they were established. They were met with not just resistance from the corrupt leadership but plain assault on every front including persistent blackmail of the entities and their personnel. To date nobody has been able to come up with an iota of evidence against the leadership of these bodies – a very rare feat in contemporary Nigeria. The modest achievements of the Agencies and sincere efforts of operatives constitute the butt of jokes by largely uninformed, mis-guided and unpatriotic Newspaper and internet columnists most of whom are on the payroll of corrupt politicians or acting in the capacity of image-laundering “consultants”.
The corrupt Governors and others mobilized Nigerians against the Bodies. They bribed individuals and Media houses to propagate unfounded allegations of corruption and selective prosecution against the bodies and their leadership. Some were asked to say that the Bodies were Obasanjo’s weapon to extort “Third Term”. (But Governors complained in confidence that they opposed “Third Term” proposal because they were not included) Yet others simply employed and deployed spies into the bodies who daily revealed highly confidential law enforcement information with which they fought the body in the media and in the courts.
The gullible ones bought the bait! (Just like some bought the ruse about Obasanjo’s impeachable Offenses with which he was blackmailed to succumb to looting by Legislators) The most depressing of the antics was the hijack of identity of EFCC Press Officer by fraudsters who then sent e-mails and media releases in his name!
The 1999-2003 Governors have successfully resisted prosecution or recovery of loot. They launder loot to retain political power, set up NGOs, fund Election, corrupt the judiciary and blackmail successors. EFCC had files on 32 but has succeeded in prosecuting only about three. The others were helped to frustrate the body by Interim Injunctions by High Courts, persistent media jingo of political victimization or persecution against the incumbent President, allegations of tyranny and repression or even pursuit (including assassination) of investigators! Four to Eight years after they left office, the looting Governors (and others) are laundering the loot and when some Nigerians raise eyebrows they quickly allege that it is because they did not get a cut.
Truly, a few privileged Nigerians, sitting as judges in many of the cases including election petitions have been getting a cut! At the election Tribunals as well as regular courts, numerous inexplicable abusive orders and verdicts have emerged. The officials have been brazen, acting in total impunity leaving Nigerians without remedy and the Nigerian State unable to secure justice even in its own courts. Nigerian youths must devise a means to break the evil cycle of what (in market women’s language) is referred to as “Police catch thief, Judge release thief, nothing spoil”
Little wonder the EFCC has transformed into what (in local parlance) is called “rent and debt collector” regularly entering into compromises with looters for fear of frustration or loss in court where interim orders or inordinate delays or outright impunity are the weapon of looters. Overseas jurisdictions remain the nations only succor to obtain justice, but that is if the suspects do not escape “home’ like Governor Dariye, Alamieyesigha and many drug and credit card fraudsters. One Ex-Governor got the court to quash his entire indictment. The British Judge in convicted Mrs Ibori’s Trial in London observed that the Nigerian Judiciary had been compromised. The National assembly, the EFCC as well as the INEC have expended scandalous amounts of their allocation to defend frivolous suits and resist unjust orders.
If Nigerians thought they had seen the worst in our Maximum dictators Sanni Abacha (who printed Naira and just plainly embezzled State funds) or Ibrahim Babangida (who appropriated into his pocket $12 Billion proceeds from Gulf War excess crude Petroleum) they should go and see what some civilian Governors have done to their States. They would weep for Nigerians! These Governors have been mobilizing public opinion against the Federal Government to divert attention off their massive looting of their State’s Treasuries. State Governors were angry at President Obasanjo for publishing Federal fund allocations to states.
The excellent Local Government system commenced with the 1976 Reform has been rubbished by charlatans imposed by Governors into Local Government Offices whose main pre-occupation is pursuit of monthly allocations after which the Secretariats are deserted until the next allocation comes. Yet we claim to operate a Federal Republic and the common man is wrongly made to believe that the Presidency is his enemy. Military governors embezzled Ecological Fund but their civilian counterparts simply followed suit. There is secret but evil code of conduct among Public officers not to probe or expose predecessors but to just make a whimper about “empty treasury” but proceed to silently “eat” their own ignoring loud public and press outburst about their predecessors’ misdeeds.
In consequence, there is a lot of questioning going on on whether democracy was well worth it and whether the Presidential system can work for us. Regrettably there is a paucity of answers. Writers (including our revered diaspora “internet tigers” and overseas-based academics are more interested in applause earned in sweetly depicting the plight of Nigerians or criticizing authorities (by foreign standards) than in proposing creative and viable solutions. They fearfully dodge discussion of the disastrous outing of Nigeria’s military in power and the hot issue of corruption in the Judiciary.
The unabated, rapacious and mindless looting by Military dictators as well as the resulting capital flight that has thrown Nigeria into what Professor Richard Joseph terms a “dismal tunnel” received more attention by overseas scholars and journalists than Nigerians. Local Journalists are busy making nocturnal visits to looters and discredited Nigerians to obtain “brown envelopes” to help launder image and misinform the public.
Rather than empathize and go for a resuscitation restoration and rehabilitation, the current set of Legislative and Executive Leadership have (by their peculative actions) chosen the cruel path of their military predecessors pushing the country further down the path of despair and human degradation. The issue today is Legislative allowances and Security Vote: who knows what they will be tomorrow? Governors and Legislators must be reasonable and respect public opinion rather than ignore Nigerians if indeed we are in a democracy. Patriotic Nigerians must insist on a reversal of huge Legislative Allowances and on the Prosecution of Looting Governors.
The entire society stands condemned by the international community and posterity unless these few whose acts endanger our society are sanctioned. The criminal justice system copied from England, has failed Nigerians. Perhaps it is high time we concede that Sharia Criminal Law constitutes the best answer to rampant official corruption. These offences are capital offences under the Chinese Legal System! Experience has shown that Military Dictatorship is a bad solution. Rather, our democracy out to be adapted to our peculiar needs and environment to curb graft as we have witnessed other nations practice.
We know that the answer to impunity is retribution which our society has been lacking in courage to enforce. But the beginning of light at the end of the tunnel is RETRIBUTION. Nigerians must reject the alleged Gubernatorial conspiracy and insist on review of Legislative compensation. We shall not be able to break the cycle of impunity, corruption and maladministration unless Nigerians abandon the present “I don’t care” attitude to government Properties replacing it with the enthusiastic embrace of loot recovery.
An independent deterrent sanction force is needed to check roguery in government. In the alternative or in addition, Special Investigators/Prosecutors should be appointed for high profile cases and “Politically Exposed persons” so that rogues in government would get the message that there is consequence for infamy and that like terrorists and evil dictators, they will have no place to hide or rest.

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