Buhari Vs. Corrupt Nigerian Judiciary and Treasury Looters – by Salimonu Kadiri



BUHARI VS CORRUPT NIGERIAN JUDICIARY AND TREASURY LOOTERS

Salimonu Kadiri

August 26, 2018

In item 12 of President Buhari’s Democracy Day Speech to Nigerians, 29 May 2018, he said, “The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit set up with a mandate to validate controls, assess risks, prune personnel costs, ensure compliance with public Financial Management reforms, has helped to identify and remove over 52,000 ghost workers from the Federal Government MDAs Payroll.” In other parts of the world, ghosts are known to be creepy creatures that frighten people but, not in Nigeria where the faceless creatures are seen on MDAs payrolls, they have no legs and hands but they walk to banks to sign checks and draw salaries. When President Buhari told Nigerians that his government has identified and removed over 52,000 ghost workers from the Federal Government MDAs Payroll, what was expected of the Nigerian intellectuals  was to ask him to tell Nigerians how long the Ghost workers had been employed and how much money have they received, cumulatively, as salaries and fringe benefits before they were discovered. He should also have been asked to tell Nigerians who were behind the employment of the ghost workers and who have been drawing salaries on their behalves as well as what would happen to the employers of ghost workers. These questions could not be asked because Nigerian intellectuals are themselves the bane of corruption in Nigeria, and they always solidarize with one another like the employers of ghost workers in the Nigerian MDAs. Employment of ghost workers in the MDAs of Nigeria, just like stealing of appropriated funds for industrial and economic and development of Nigeria which is often trivialized as corruption, predated Buhari’s ascension to the office of President.

During the Presidency of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in September 2010, a staff audit of the Nigeria Police Force revealed that 230,000 Police were authentically verified out of 337,000 that were on payroll. The salary section of the Police, their pay officers and accountants in all the states of the Federation as well as bank officials were implicated in the enlistment and payment of 107,000 ghost police. The discovery was not followed by the prosecution of the fraudsters collecting salaries on behalf of the 107,000 employed ghost Policemen/women. By 2011, it had become a trend to audit  personnel, not only in the federal MDAs but also, in all the 36 States and 774 local government councils in Nigeria. In July 2011, the staff auditing of seven Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) revealed that 43,000 ghost workers were employed, at an annual cost of over N12 billion. It was not clear how long the ghost workers had been on payroll and who had been collecting salaries and fringe benefits on behalf of the ghost workers. The Ministry of Finance announced then that personnel of 29 MDAs remained to be biometrically verified and authenticated. The same July 2011, the Director General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Mr. Chris Onyemenam, announced the discovery of 4,000 ghost workers out of the 10,300 employees on the NIMC’s payroll after concluding biometric data capture exercise. He added that 800 employees were yet to be verified. In Rivers, the State Universal Education Board discovered 1,477 ghost workers costing N200 million monthly in its payroll after staff auditing. Further in July 2011, the Chairman of the Tureta Local Government Area of Sokoto State, Alhaji Mande Lofa, announced the discovery of 500 ghost workers in the council payroll after staff auditing. By August 2011, a five-man committee set up to audit the staff of Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State uncovered N10 million wage scam. Twenty-nine (29) dead persons and 72 ghost workers had been under the employment of the Council and had been receiving salaries since year 2003. In all, 500 ghost workers were discovered. Declaring his intention on 11 November 2014 to contest the 2015 Presidential election, item 44, 45 and 46 of President Goodluck Jonathan’s speech are worth recalling here. In item 44, President Jonathan said : My dear people, corruption remains a big challenge to our national life. It corrodes our efforts at development and at motivating competence in critical sectors of our national growth. ..//.. Coming to item 45, he said : Through the Integrated Payroll and personnel Information System (IPPIS), we have weeded out 56,000 ghost workers from the Federal Civil Service, saving 162 billion naira. Consequently in item 46, President Jonathan told Nigerians : I have directed ICPC to bring the perpetrators of this criminal act to book. Let this be very clear, public officers must live by example, fully accounting for the national trust and resources in their care.

 

To Jonathan, employing ghost workers and collecting salaries on their behalves is corruption and not fraud. However, despite his directive to the ICPC to prosecute the perpetrators of ghost employers, there was no single case of prosecution up to the time Jonathan was voted out of office in 2015. Going by Buhari’s Democracy Day speech, the 56,000 ghost employees that Jonathan boasted of identifying and removing from the Federal Government’s payrolls would appear to have been replaced by over 52,000 new ghost workers under Buhari’s regime. An effective deterrent should be, not only to identify and remove ghost workers but, to identify, remove from office and prosecute employers of ghost workers in addition to recovering whatever amount they might have earned from the fraud. As usual, corrupt Nigerian intellectuals are not interested in the substance of Buhari’s Democracy Day Speech. As if Buhari is sitting for WAEC exam, he was awarded “F” for his English in the democracy day speech by Nigerian intellectuals. They are more concerned about uncrossed ‘t’ and undotted ‘i’ as well as inappropriate use of capital letters in Buhari’s speech. English language is not the mother tongue of Nigerians and as long as the information Buhari intended to convey to Nigerians in that colonial language, English, is understood by Nigerians, any grammatical error committed is of no value. https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/buhari-s-democracy-day-speech-is-a-grammatical-embarrassment-253666.html/.However bad the English of Buhari is, my blame on him is his failure in not communicating regularly with his electorates that gave him mandate to tackle theft of developmental funds in Nigeria. Had he communicated regularly with his electors, the PDP would not so brazenly have stolen the mandates given to the APC in the National Assembly and thereby make it impossible to pass laws that would accelerate trials of national looters without facing mass protests of the people. The Judiciary too would have felt the storm and refused to play games with Nigeria’s treasury looters.

While speaking at an international workshop, at the National Judicial Institute (NJI) Abuja, on Monday, 18 July 2016, President Buhari  identified the judiciary as the main stumbling block against fighting corruption in Nigeria. In fact, the Nigerian Judiciary is the root cause of Nigeria’s political and economic underdevelopment from which Nigerians are suffering today. It began in May 1962, when 66 Action Group Party members of the then Western House of Assembly signed a paper that they no longer had confidence in the then Premier of the Region, Samuel Ladoke Akintola, and forwarded it to the Governor, Sir Adesoji Aderemi, urging him to sack the Premier. The Governor granted the request of the signatories and removed Akintola, who challenged his removal in court, claiming that although the constitution empowered the Governor to remove the Premier ”if”the Governor was satisfied that the Premier no longer commanded majority in the House, such a decision must be based on vote of no confidence on the floor of the House. The corrupt Nigerian Judges up to the Supreme Court, declared that the Governor acted unconstitutionally by removing Akintola without a vote of no confidence passed on him on the floor of the House. His opponent for the Premiership, Aljhaji Dauda Soroye Adegbenro, appealed the judgement to the Privy Council in London. Under the time, the Federal Government had declared a six month State of Emergency in Western Region, after which Akintola was re-instated as Premier of the West. By December 1963, the Privy Council declared that Sir Adesoji Aderemi acted constitutionally when he sacked Akintola, having been satisfied that the sixty-six signatures he received were authentic. The Privy Council said that Nigerian Courts were wrong to inject meanings which were not intended into the constitution and if the framers of the constitution had wanted the Governor to get a vote of no confidence passed on the premier on the floor of the house before removing him it would have been stated in the constitution. Nigeria had become a Republic in October 1963, and the power holders in Nigeria said that Privy Council verdicts were no longer binding in the country. Had the Nigerian Judiciary not corruptly interpreted the ‘If’ in the Constitution of the Western Region in 1962, the calamity of 15 January 1966 and 29 July 1966, leading to the Nigerian civil war would, probably, not have occurred.

The presidential election of 1979 was a meek attempt to return the country to democratic system of governance. However, the result of the Presidential election showed that none of the candidates secured two-thirds of the nineteen states to be declared a winner. In normal climes two of the highest poling Presidential candidates would have gone for a run-up election, but not in Nigeria. The purposeful corrupt Nigerian judiciary was ready to render helping hands and mathematics of approximation was conjured forth to do the magic wand. The Nigerian judiciary told the entire world that the approximated value of two-thirds of nineteen was 12 and not 13 and as such, Shehu Shagari was declared elected. That was how the judiciary set the trap that helped the Khaki boys to stage a comeback in the new year eve of December 1983. The military hanged on to power until public outcry forced it to prepare for civilian handover in 1993. Elections of Governors, States House of Assembly, and National Assemblies had successfully been conducted and the Presidential election was to be held on 12 June 1993. Late in the night on the eve of election, 11 June 1993, Justice Bassey Ikpeme (now late) of the Abuja High Court, restrained the National Electoral Commission (NEC), as it was then known and headed by Professor Humphrey Nwosu, from conducting the election. The restraint was based on a motion bought before the Court by a group called Association for Better Nigeria (ABN) led by Senator Arthur Nzeribe. Since the Court Order was issued towards midnight, NEC  was not served with the notice of the court’s restraint and the Presidential election was held. Results declared from 14 States showed that M.K.O. Abiola of the SPD won 4, 364, 993 votes against his Republican Party opponent, Alhaji Bashir Tofa, who won 2, 393,303 votes. Suddenly, on Wednesday, 16 June 1993, an Abuja High Court under the Federal Capital Territory’s Chief Judge, Justice Dahiru Saleh, issued an order indefinitely restraining the NEC from announcing the rest of the presidential election result, following the application brought by Senator Nzeribe’s ABN. On Monday, 21 June 1993, Justice Dahiru Saleh voided the June 12, 1993 Presidential election on the ground that the election was illegal since it was held contrary to the midnight Court Order issued by Justice Bassey Ikpeme on 11 June 1993. The military President, Babangida, stepped aside and installed an unelected civilian head of state that was eventually overthrown by General Abacha. It was a case in which iniquity, conspiracy, lies and corruption were allowed to defeat honesty, decency and truth. Death is the hunting dog of God that sniffed its way into the bedroom of Abacha on June 8, 1998 and his successor planned to install a civilian regime the year after. As we all know, a former military head of state was recycled into the Presidency after being pardoned and released from Abacha’s gulag. When he came out of prison, he was thin like a goat leg but after six months in power he looked like a Sumo Japanese wrestler. Nigerians have forgotten that he was one of those who truncated democracy in 1993 when he declared that M.K.O. Abiola was not the Messiah Nigerians were waiting for. On his second coming as head of state, Olusegun Obasanjo noticed that his junior in the Army who ruled the country to the point of annulled election had built a mansion on a hilltop in Minna, Niger State. Therefore he too decided to replicate the same on a hilltop at Abeokuta, a project he would not be able to effect without stealing directly and indirectly from our collective patrimony. So, illicit accumulation of wealth, called corruption was blossom under Obasanjo’s regime despite his creation of anti-corruption agencies. Under him the judiciary was unruffled to auction justice to the highest bidder.

In 2003, the Anambra South Senatorial election was contested mainly between Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu and Dr. Ugochukwu Uba in which the latter was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Prince Nicholas Ukachukwu filed a petition at the election petition tribunal and won, whereby, Dr. Ugochukwu Uba appealed the tribunal’s judgment to the Court of Appeal that reversed the tribunal’s judgment in favour of Dr. Uba. Later, it turned out that the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/E/EPT/!9/2003 was bought with more than twenty-seven million naira from two of the three Justices of the Court of Appeal. Honourable Justice Okwuchukwu Opene received fifteen million naira while Justice David Adedoyin Adeniji received twelve million naira as well as unascertained sums of money in three Ghana-must-Go bags. The third Judge that dissented in the Court of Appeal ruling, Justice Kumai Bayang Akaahs did not receive any bribe. Based on petitions from different quarters, the National Judicial Council (NJC) investigated the allegations and discovered that it was true that the two Justices, Opene and Adeniji received twenty-seven million as bribe. Therefore, the NJC recommended the dismissal of the two Justices to President Obasanjo who dismissed them from the Judiciary on 3 May 2005. However, the two Justices kept their bribes and Dr. Ugochukwu Uba retained his Senatorial seat. By the time Obasanjo left office in May 2007, corruption was robust and  the EFCC and ICPC saw to it that not less than 30 of the 36 State Governors in the country were arraigned and charged before the court of law. Others got permanent court injunctions prohibiting the law enforcing agencies from arresting,  interrogating, detaining and prosecuting them for treasury looting. Despite serious consequences of treasury lootings on citizen’s lives Nigerian courts, acting in contrast against the intention of law pertaining to bails, abused the powers of the court to grant bails to the plunderers of funds that were meant to secure the social welfare of the citizens and prevent them from untimely deaths. Once bails were granted, court registrars, judges and defence lawyers saw to it through different delay tactics that cases were never concluded. Under President Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP government, corruption, which in practice is stealing of public funds by officials became epidemic.

As the saying goes in Nigeria, only a thief can sniff the footsteps of another thief on the rock. Obasanjo who in office was a deceitful devil, turn-coated to become manifesting angel of light and delight. In the dailytimes.com.ng, now naijanews.com, of 23 may 2012, Olusegun Obasanjo was reported to have said at the fourth annual conference of the Academy for Entrepreneurial Studies after listing three most corrupt institutions in Nigeria as the legislature, judiciary and the police, stressing that the lawmakers were the most corrupt amongst all thus, “Integrity is necessary for all systems and institutions to be strong. Today rogues, armed robbers are in the State Houses and the National Assembly. What sort of laws will they make?” “The Judiciary is also corrupt,” Obasanjo said and continued, “During my tenure many of the corrupt judges were removed, some  are still there.” Obasanjo queried, “If the Judiciary becomes corrupt, where is the hope for Nigeria?”  He answered, “Justice no doubt will go to the highest bidder.” Tacitly referring to the former Governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori, who was discharged in Nigeria of treasury looting while in office but jailed in London for laundering money stolen from Delta State, Obasanjo said, “The Judiciary did not see anything wrong with a former governor but the same set of evidence was used to convict him in UK.” Obasanjo’s outburst came at the time the public enquiry into fuel subsidy revealed that 3 billion, 171million, 644 thousand and 3- hundred and 36 litres of ghost fuel were supplied and subsidized in 2011. A month earlier, the Chairman of the House of representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy had been caught on a video clip at Femi Otedola’s residence collecting a bribe of $500,000 being part payment of a $3 million bribe agreement. In exchange Farooq was to remove Femi Otedola’s companies, Zenon Oil and Gas Limited as well as Synopsis Enterprise Ltd from the list of firms that got subsidy payments from the Federal government for supplying ghost fuel. Two ministers in Jonathan’s government received N2.7 billion and N1.02 billion respectively for fuel subsidy without supplying a drop of fuel. Since 2012, all the cases filed by the EFCC against ghost fuel suppliers are still pending today in Nigerian courts where judges sit on them. When Obasanjo asserted on 23 May 2012 that the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly are filled with rogues and armed robbers and as such declared the lawmakers as the most corrupt in Nigeria, it was because of the eye popping remunerations they appropriated to themselves in defiance of Section 70 of the Nigerian Constitution which unambiguously prescribes that, “A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall receive such salary and other allowances as the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission may determine.” Whereas the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission approved as allowances N3,115,590 per quarter for a Senator and N2,630,406 per quarter for a member of the House of Representatives the National Legislator then led by Bankole and Mark unilaterally and illegally paid N45 million per quarter to each Senator and N28 million per quarter to each member of the House of Representatives. An NGO named Legal Defence and Assistant Project, LEDAP, filed a suit in an Abuja High Court against the National Assembly. On Monday, 25 June 2012, the Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Balikisu B. Aliyu ordered the National Assembly to release, within 14 days, details of the salary, emolument and allowances received by its members between 2007 and 2011 to LEDAP. The National Assembly appealed against the order to the Court of Appeal where in 2018 it is yet to be listed for court hearing. The National Assembly members would seem to have had naira handshakes with the Court of Appeal. By the time President Goodluck Jonathan was voted out of office in 2015, Nigeria was plagued by kleptomania where some officials sold ghost products of everything Nigerians needed to become billionaires and millionaires not only in naira value but in dollars. As Judges received their own shares from sales of ghost products to Nigerians all cases against kleptomaniacs were frozen. Buhari came into office with the promise of curing Nigeria of kleptomania by arresting and prosecuting kleptomaniacs without thinking of the corrupt Nigerian judiciary and its constant abuse and misuse of judicial power.

The 16 years rule of Nigeria by PDP (29 May 1999 – 29 May 2015) was as if Nigeria is a tree invaded by termites or a farm by locusts. When Buhari took over in 2015, Boko Haram was in control of fifty-thousand square kilometers land area in Nigeria, as big as Royal Kingdom of Denmark, on which they raised their flag and declared it a Caliphate. A rag-tag Boko Haram army chased and killed Nigerian soldiers like chickens. Boko Haram drove over two million Nigerians into refugee camps in their own country. That could happen because Nigerian Armed Forces Chief of Staffs connived with PDP politicians  to share among themselves funds appropriated for acquisition of weapons for soldiers to fight insurgents. Buhari’s APC led federal government unravelled how PDP and Chief of Staffs of the Nigerian Armed Forces awarded contracts to supply arms to their private companies and got paid for supplying ghost weapons. While ordinary soldiers were being pounded by Boko Haram and many Nigerians were being driven from their homes, PDP elites and Chief of Staffs of the Armed Forces, were building mansions all over Nigeria and abroad and got their bank accounts at home and off-shore swollen with funds earmarked for the war against Boko Haram. By 2016, investigation was ready on the arms purchase scandal and the culprits were arraigned in courts. As usual, the corrupt judiciary was engaged in reckless abuse of judicial power by granting bails to those whose crimes have caused several thousands dead civilians and soldiers, resulting in over two millions Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). The judges attributed their grant of bails to those who have caused deaths and miseries of millions of Nigerians to respecting the fundamental human rights of the culprits as if to say the dead and the IDPs had no fundamental human rights. A bail in any court case is not automatic and the judge is compelled to weigh the severity of the crime in applying discretion to grant bail or not. The abuse of judicial power by the Nigerian judges never attracted the attentions of corrupt educated Nigerian elites. While speaking at a Town Hall meeting with Nigerians in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sunday, January 2016, President Buhari said, “On the fight against corruption vis-à-vis the judiciary, Nigerians will be right to say that is my head ache for now.” He said further that the ongoing fight against corruption in Nigeria could be effectively tackled with the strong support of the judiciary. On Wednesday, 10 February 2016, the then President of Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Augustine Alegeh said that such generalisations and categorisations of the judiciary as being an obstacle to the anti-corruption crusade by President Buhari was aimed at intimidating the judiciary. Mr Augustine Allegeh said, “The NBA condemns in its entirety the generalisation and/ or categorisation of the Judiciary as being corrupt and an impediment to the zero corruption policy of the present administration.” What Mr. Allegeh failed to do was not to explain to Nigerians why scores of corruption cases from 2007 were still pending in various courts in 2016 long after the accused persons had been granted bails and their cases adjourned indefinitely. He did not explain why Judges were granting perpetual injunctions to treasury looters prohibiting the investigating authorities from arresting, interrogating, detaining and prosecuting suspected looters. However, by the end of  February 2016, an Executive Bill for the establishment of a Special Criminal Court with exclusive jurisdiction to try corruption cases was submitted to the National Assembly by President Buhari but the legislators knocked the Bill into coma because most of them have been involved in prolonged corruption trials which they have succeeded in adjourning indefinitely. A showdown between the Executive on one hand and the Judiciary as well as their customers in the legislature on the other hand was brewing.

By the end of September 2016, the EFCC had secretly investigated the accounts of certain High Court and Supreme Court Judges and discovered huge amounts of money transferred into their accounts by defence lawyers handling cases of treasury lootings by public officials. In some cases the acquisition of wealth and standard of living of some of the judges were beyond their legitimate incomes. For unknown reasons the EFCC investigation was subverted by the DSS, another arm of the Executive, when it raided homes of some High Court and Supreme Court Judges. The DSS raids caused uproars, especially among dunderhead Nigerian intellectuals who went as far as claiming that the huge amount of raw cash both in Nigerian and foreign currencies found in the houses of judges were planted. When the judges subsequently admitted in their letters written to the Nigerian Judicial Council that monies recovered by the DSS in their houses belonged to them, the sense of revulsion of the educated Nigerians became blurred. For instance, Nigerian intellectuals were not awed by the fact that two Supreme Court Justices, Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta had 38 million, 358 thousand naira; 319 thousand, 596 US dollars and 25 thousand, 915 pounds sterling stacks of raw cash in his house while his colleague, John Inyang Okoro had only 3 million, 500 thousand naira and 38 thousand, 800 US dollars stacks of raw cash at home. In his letter to the NJC, the full-time Supreme Court employed Justice Sylvester Nwali Ngwuta claimed that the huge amount of money found by the DSS in his house was made fromselling rice and palm oil!! Despite the fact that the DSS raids exposed the Judges of possessing money that could not have been earned legally, educated Nigerians averred that the DSS raids were illegal since the approval of the NJC was neither sought nor granted before the raids were carried out. The DSS defended itself and claimed that the NJC had rejected its request to probe the judges. (http://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2016/10/11/how-njc-rejected-dss-request-to-probe-judges/).  However, the DSS was directed by the Presidency to hand-over cases of corrupt judicial officers to the EFCC for complete investigations and possible prosecutions. One of the Judges that was subsequently charged in court for engaging in cash and carry judgment by the EFCC was Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa of the Bayelsa Division of the Federal High Court. The EFCC discovered how Justice Nganjiwa had systematically received 260 thousand US dollars and eight million, 600 thousand naira into his bank accounts from defence lawyers in cases he had presided over between 2013 and 2015. On Monday, 11 December 2017, the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal ruled that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) does not have statutory powers to investigate or prosecute serving judicial officers except where such individuals have first been dismissed or retired by the National Judicial Council (NJC), the body assigned with the duty to discipline erring judged. Therefore, Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa was acquitted and discharged from evidently receiving bribes into his bank account in exchange for favourable judgments to accused persons and other litigants before his court. Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states clearly that only the President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors are shielded from civil and criminal proceedings and processes while in office. The implication of Section 308 is that Judicial Officers from the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justices of Appeal and Supreme Court, High Court Judges and Magistrates do not enjoy any special protection from criminal proceedings and processes that is to say, they can be investigated, arrested, detained or prosecuted. Since immunity cannot be inferred but must be specifically granted, the ground on which the Court of Appeal discharged and acquitted Justice Hyeladzira Nganjuwa of unlawfully receiving bribes in dispensing justice was judicial rascality of the highest order. Administrative procedure cannot take precedence over criminal act as the Court of Appeal Judgment would appear to imply. If a drunk High Court Judge driving against one-way road should drive over a person resulting in death, should the police wait for the NJC disciplinary action before arresting the judge? When the Court of Appeal conferred extra-constitutional immunity on Judicial Officers, the noisy Nigerian intellectual crickets became deaf and dumb. Three months later, it was the turn of the Supreme Court Judge, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, to be discharged and acquitted of money laundering, corrupt enrichment and passport fraud. Although the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) could prove that Justice Sylvester Ngwuta spent more than 500 million naira to develop property between January and October 2016, without borrowing money from the Bank and despite the fact that his legitimate annual earnings, including his allowances, being 24 million naira. Apart from the over 500 million naira spent between January and October 2016 by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, still, the sums of 38 million, 358 thousand naira; 319 thousand, 596 US dollars and 25 thousand, 915 pounds sterling were recovered by the DSS when his house was raided on 7 October 2016. Nonetheless, the Federal High Court presided over by Justice John Tsoho following the Court of Appeal decision of 11 December 2017, declared that Justice Sylvester Ngwuta as a seating Judge could not be investigated and prosecuted for any crime unless he has first been disciplined by the Nigerian Judicial Council. Since there is no existing law or constitutional provision stating that where a judicial officer is alleged to have committed a crime, it is mandatory for law enforcement agencies to go through the disciplinary instrumentality of the NJC before taking actions against the erring judicial officer, one expected Nigerian intellectuals to protest against the corrupt judgment in favour of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta. Alas, it was dead silence.

Those who are elected, selected, appointed or employed in Nigeria and entrusted with huge amount of money to provide social and economic welfare for citizens are highly remunerated to enhance performance, when compared to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria which is under $2,000 (US) per annum. Yet, educated Nigerian officials steal developmental funds entrusted in their care. The gravity and consequences of the offence of stealing socio-economic development funds are never considered by Nigerian Judges while granting bails to treasury looters because the Judges are shared parts of the loots. Crimes against humanity committed by Nigerian treasury plunderers and their collaborating judicial officers are very enormous. By stealing funds appropriated for job creation, unemployed Nigerian youths become armed robbers, kidnappers and murderers. When funds set aside for building hospitals and roads are stolen by looters, the looters are responsible for the spread of diseases, untimely deaths in hospitals and on roads. Stealing money allocated for building and maintaining schools breed illiteracy, Alimajiris who value no life and ignorance in the society. When politicians and public officers divert ecological funds of billions of naira to buy choice properties in Dubai (UAE), they are responsible for the floods that have caused the death of thousands of people and displacement of others whose properties were destroyed in Nigeria. When power generating and distributing Nigerian officials become importers of home generators, the power generating and distributing Nigerian officials are responsible for hundreds of deaths that occur daily in Nigeria by those who inhale  fumes from generators. When the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s Directors and subsidiary companies wilfully sabotage the Nigerian crude oil refineries so that they and their cronies could become sole importers of adulterated petrol into Nigeria, they should be held responsible for hundreds of lost lives per day in Nigeria due to explosion of engines of motor vehicles on Nigerian roads caused by adulterated petrol. The conscienceless Nigerian judiciary and looters of national development funds as well as most of the educated elites do not care about the consequences of treasury lootings on ordinary Nigerians. Causes and effects of treasury lootings and the effect of cash and carry judgment by the Nigerian judiciary may not be easily discerned for the unsuspecting, therefore, let me illustrate with practical examples.

In the aftermath of the fracas on the hike of petrol pump price by President Jonathan in 2012 when a demonstrator was killed by the police and several others were injured, government reduced the hike from N141 to N97 instead of the N65 which was then in force. The difference between N97 and N65, Jonathan said, would be invested in what was called, Subsidy Re-investment Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), that would provide vocational training and jobs for youths and women. But, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Clement Illoh Onubuogo, and fifteen others had another plan. His responsibility was to supervise implementation of SURE-P, including Technical and Vocational Education Training, and Community Service Women and Youth Empowerment Programs. Instead, he diverted funds meant for various SURE-P to his private companies namely, Clement and Bob Associates, Ojeagu Farms Limited and Ojeagu Global Service. All high-ranking Nigerian officials, both civil and military, have briefcase companies with which they siphon funds for projects entrusted in their care. Clement Illoh Onubuogo’s share of the ten billion naira embezzled from SURE-P was six-hundred and six million naira.

On 15 March 2014, President Jonathan’s Minister of Interior, Abba Moro initiated the recruitment of 5,420 personnel into the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) of which 676, 675 Nigerian applicants had each paid non-refundable fee of 1,000 naira to take part in the recruitment examination. As the exam centres were overcrowded and congested, there arose stampede leading to crushing to death of 19 people while many were injured. The contracting Firm given the recruitment job was Drexel Global Technic Nigeria Ltd, an unregistered company with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), which as such lacked legal capacity to enter into such contract. The owner of Drexel Global Technic Nigeria Ltd. was one Mahmood Ahmadu. Out of the recruitment fees collected, Mahmood Ahmadu had withdrawn 423 million, 800 thousand naira for his private use. The rest was shared between the Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior at that time, Mrs. Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia and a deputy Director in the Ministry, F.O. Alayebami. While Mahmood Ahmadu was at large, Abba Moro, Anastasia Daniel-Nwobia and F.O. Alayebami were charged in court  by the EFCC in 2017 and have been granted bail. Since 2017, the case has not been listed for hearing. That the nineteen youths who were crushed to death could not be bailed into life did not bother the presiding Judge who abused his judicial power to grant bails to the murderers of 19 Nigerian youths.

The greatest threat to the economic development and unity of Nigeria is the Nigerian Judiciary. Nigerian public officials steal with impunity because the Judicial Officers always collude with thieves to share stollen public funds, after which, corruption and theft cases are adjourned sine die. The Nigerian Judiciary functioning as the backbone of corruption and treasury looting in Nigeria has never attracted the opprobrium of educated Nigerians. Rather, they are only obsessed in regular bashing of Buhari who assumed presidency three years ago out of which he battled for his health for more than two-hundred days. The most notorious basher of Buhari and his government is a Nigerian Bariba professor of English. Recently, the Special Assistant to President Buhari on Prosecutions and Head of Special Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla, was reported to have said, “Fighting corruption should not be the responsibility of President Muhammadu Buhari alone. It should be the responsibility of everyone of us, National Assembly, the civil society, because this country has suffered tremendously because of corruption.” That patriotic admonition from Okoi Obono-Obla drew the flack of irascible Bariba professor of English who captioned his rebuttal thus, “Corruption Fighting Corruption: The Tragicomic Case of Obono-Obla.”The Bariba professor of English then told Nigerians that Obono-Obla possibly stole his dead relative’s ”o” level certificate in 1982, inserted into it to include Literature in English which the dead relative did not sit for. Obono-Obla’s probable criminal impersonation gained him admission to the University of Jos to study Law and was called to the Bar in 1991. I have underlined the words possibly and probable to show that proven facts would not need to be preceded with those words.  The Bariba Professor of English has no evidence and he is unsure if Obono-Obla stole his dead relative’s “O” level certificate in 1982 and that is why he helped himself with the hypothetical adverb, possibly. Similarly, the Bariba professor of English has no evidence that Obono-Obla gained admission into University of Jos by impersonating his dead relative which is why he deployed hypothetical adjective, probable to qualify criminal impersonation. However, the main purpose of Bariba professor of English in his tirade against Obono-Obla is to discredit and disqualify him as a worthy fighter of corruption in Nigeria. Yet, Saint Professor of English could not tell his readers, how Obono-Obla was able to graduate in Law and called to the Bar without, according to the Professor, having requisite qualification. Did his dead relative, who evidently did not sit for Literature in English at “O” level, resurrect to go through Jos University Law programs on behalf of Obono-Obla? The Bariba professor of English has pointed one of his five bad fingers at Okoi Obono-Obla, but the rest four bad fingers are pointing to the professor self. The tragedy here is not that this Professor regrets being born a Bariba Nigerian but that he really believes that he is an English man and in his attempt to conform to the behaviour and values of the English man, in the most minute details, he has become an exaggerated English man in the Bariba landscape of Nigeria.

 

As I see it, the political and economic war going on in Nigeria is,  Buhari versus the corrupt Nigerian judiciary and treasury looters. In this war the dispossessed and robbed Nigerian masses should que behind Buhari to confront the corrupt Nigerian judiciary, working in tandem with treasury looters to impoverish Nigerians, with decisive actions and insist on retribution. Nigerians should now demonstrate  massively and constantly that they have lost confidence in a judiciary that auctions justice to the highest bidder. On 23 March 2007, Justice Ibrahim Nyaure, presiding over a Port Harcourt Federal High Court, granted in advance a permanent injunction forbidding the EFCC from investigating the Governor of River State, Peter Odili, after exiting office in May 2007, for looting the treasury of River State of the sum of N100 billion!! Although the EFCC appealed against the order, it has not been listed for hearing by the Court Registrar at the Appeal Court till date. On 26 August 2015, a Federal High Court in Lagos presided over by Justice Mohammed Yunusa granted an interim injunction barring the EFCC or any investigating agency in Nigeria from inviting or arresting for questioning Stella Adaeze Oduah over the purchase of one million, six-hundred thousand US dollar armoured cars when she was Minister of Aviation!! On 17 September 2015, an Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Valentine Ashi barred the EFCC, ICPC, DSS, the Nigerian Police Force, the Nigerian Immigration Service and National Security Civil Defence Corps from arresting, detaining and investigating Mr. Kingsley Kuku over his activities as former Coordinator of Presidential Amnesty Programme for Niger Delta Militants under President Jonathan’s era. On 9 August 2018, an Abuja Federal Capital Territory High Court presided over by Justice M.A. Nasir issued an order stopping the Nigerian Police from arresting and questioning Bukola Saraki over Offa bank robbery case!! In the entire world, it is only in Nigeria that Judges can issue order barring investigative agencies from arresting, interrogating and detaining suspected criminals, especially those with questionable and illegitimate source of wealth. Should the police wait for the order or approval of the court before arresting, interrogating and detaining a suspected criminal? If all Nigerians are equal before the law, why should the court, outside the law and the constitution, confer immunity on Saraki? Let’s decipher information arising out of the Offa Bank robbery that occurred on Thursday, 5 April 2018, where 33 people including 9 policemen were killed.

On Wednesday, 16 May 2018, Bukola Saraki addressed the Senate, claiming that he had been informed by Kwara State’s Governor, Dr. Abdulfatah Ahmed that the Inspector General of Police had directed the Commissioner of Police in Kwara to transfer immediately the men arrested in connection with Offa bank robbery to the force headquarters. Saraki stated, “The plan, as the Governor was made to understand, is that under duress, the suspects would be made to alter the statements they already made in Ilorin. They will then be made to implicate the Kwara State Government and, in particular, myself, in their new statement. Who made the Governor to understand that the aim of transferring the suspects to Force Headquarters in Abuja was to incriminate Kwara State Government and Bukola Saraki? Or was it Kwara State Government and Saraki who to the best of their knowledge believed that the suspects might incriminate them in Abuja? On the same day, the Nigerian Police denied Bukola Saraki’s insinuation. It stated, “The Kwara State Police Command on 11 May 2018 paraded suspects before the media and the public. The suspects admitted and confessed before the press and the public to have committed murder. Consequence upon the public confession of murders in Kwara and other States of the Federation, the statutory procedure and practice in the Force is that such a heinous crime and capital offence is transferred to the Force Headquarters for further investigation.” The police also narrated similar and previous criminal cases from other states of Nigeria that had been transferred to the Force Headquarters for proper and impartial investigation. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/05/no-iota-truth-allegation-igp-idris-tells-saraki/ From the Police briefing above, it seems as if the Police had stumbled on murders committed by the suspects outside Kwara State, besides the Offa bank robberies and the 33 associated murders.

On Sunday, 3 June 2018, the Nigerian Police Facebook page, signed by Force Public Relations Officer, Force Headquarters, Abuja, ACP Jimoh Moshood ,clarified why Bukola Saraki was invited over the Offa bank robberies. It was revealed among other things that : A Lexus Jeep GX-300 (Ash Colour) with a sticker plate number inscription, “SARAKI Kwara State of Harmony” deployed during the Offa bank robberies was driven to the Government House, Ilorin, immediately after the robberies. The sticker plate number was removed and replaced with a new registration number, Kwara, KMA 143 RM, in the name of Ayoade Akinnibosun, the leader of Offa bank robberies. The exhibit vehicle was subsequently recovered from the premises of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Ilorin, Kwara State. The sticker plate number removed from the robbery vehicle was recovered from one of the bank robbers named Adeola Omiyale. He was the one who drove the Lexus Jeep to the Government House Ilorin, Kwara State, on the instruction of the Personal Assistant (Political) to the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Mr. Alabi Olalekan. The Chief of Staff to the Executive Governor of Kwara State, Mr. Yusuf Abdulwahab,  was arrested and taken into Police custody for arranging the removal of the sticker plate number on the vehicle used in the Offa robberies and re-registering the Lexus Jeep in the name of the leader of the robbers, Ayoade Akinnibosun, who had been in Police custody more than six days before the re-registration of the vehicle. www.punchng.com/photos-why-we-invited-saraki-over-the-offa-bank-robberies-force-hq.html/ On the same day, Muyideen Akorede, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communication to Kwara State Governor countered the Nigerian Police thus, “To set the records straight, the Kwara State Government has a well known empowerment scheme under Small And Medium Enterprises (SME) platform which is used to move women and youths groups into entrepreneurship. Consequently, several youth and women groups have benefitted from the scheme to date. …//… Similarly, if any of the beneficiaries chose to use the SME credit from the government to purchase a vehicle which was then alleged to have been used for an act of criminality, the Kwara State Governor and indeed the State government cannot be held liable for such action since neither had prior knowledge of such intention on beneficiaries’ part.” https://www.premiumtimesng.com/headlines/270869-kwara-governor-replies-police-on-allegations-he-saraki-sponsored-offa-robbery-suspects.html. Hasn’t Kwara State government the responsibility to monitor that fund given to individual for empowerment scheme under SME is used for the purpose for which the fund was granted? How did the Lexus Jeep used in the Offa bank robberies get to the premise of the Kwara State Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Ilorin? Was it true that the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Kwara State, Mr. Yusuf Abdulwahab, arranged the removal of sticker number from the bank robbery vehicle, Lexus Jeep, and re-registered it with a new number in the name of the leader of the robber gang, Ayoade Akinnibosun, who was in police custody at the time of re-registration? Was it true that, after forty-eight hours, four of the Offa armed robbers accompanied the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to the palace of Oloffa of Offa, Oba Muftau Gbadamosi Esuwoye to commensurate with him over the Offa bank robberies incident? https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/06/offa-robbery-4-gang-leaders-accompanied-saraki-sympathise-offa-monarch-police/

Is it true as the police has claimed that the leader of the killer squad in Ilorin, the son of Salihu Woru, the self-appointed spokesman of Magajis in Ilorin Emirate, is placed on Salary Grade Level16, while his colleagues are on Levels 10 to 15? Is it true, as the police claimed, that the killer squads were being paid from the Office of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Kwara State government? Should the Police be disbelieved when it claimed that it has retrieved bank statements from the suspects which indicated that the killer squads have received money on monthly basis from Senator Saraki and Kwara State Government? Is it true as the police claimed that most of the killer squads have wealthy bank balances running into millions of naira without no known gainful job or legitimate business? Those are the questions which the Nigerian Judiciary do not want Bukola Saraki to answer by  unlawfully and unconstitutionally granting him immunity from police interrogation. In America from where we borrowed our presidential system of government Bukola Saraki would have been placed behind the bars long time ago.

S. Kadiri

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