Saturday, 19 January 2019

Corruption Allegations: In Case FG Has Forgotten These Cases

By Dirisu Yakubu 

The victory of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the 2015 Presidential elections elicited hope of the unusual variant.

For well-meaning Nigerians and friends of the nation, the emergence of a man seen by many as an incorruptible left-wing politician was the beginning of good things to come for Africa's largest democracy. 

Muhammadu Buhari, in 2015 enlisted into a unique guild of statesmen who have had the rare privilege of presiding over the affairs of the nation both as military Heads of State and democratically elected President. 

Until his victory in the last general election, the only member in that unique class was President Olusegun Obasanjo who governed the country for eight years (1999-2007) under a constitutional democracy. 

Before providence shone on him, Buhari who had on three occasions contested the highest elective office in the land without success had openly mouthed his desire to weed out corruption, root and branch from the nation's psyche. No one with soiled hands, he had boasted, would walk the streets a free man until he or she is made to face the full wrath of the law.

Thus, upon assumption of office, the war against all forms of corruption was expected to task the energy of the first citizen as Nigerians waited earnestly to see convictions of corrupt elements, who had in the past, enriched themselves with our collective patrimony. 

As Mr. President's tenure comes to an end in just a few months from now, the administration last week made a futile attempt to arraign one of its biggest officials for alleged corruption. 

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen is alleged to have failed to declare his assets and to demonstrate its commitment to zero tolerance for graft; the federal government through the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, is set and plans to arraign him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT in the days ahead.

However, prominent Nigerians have kicked against the move, counselling the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to instead, beam its searchlight on a litany of corruption allegations involving people close to his government. 

NNPC $25 billion contract scam 

When allegations of procedural infractions in contracts award of about $25 billion were made against the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Baru by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu were made public in 2017; Nigerians expected swift action, especially given that the man who pointed an accusing finger was a serving minister. 

Kachikwu had claimed in his petition that Baru never consulted the Board Services Committee, before terminating some appointment of senior staff even as he alleged that the NNPC Board was not carried along in the awards of contracts. According to the minister, the standard legal requirement is that any contract above the sum of $20 million must be approved by the Board; a fact he accused Baru of glossing over. 

The minister listed major contracts awarded by Baru without the input of NNPC board to include $10 billion crude term contracts; $5 billion Direct Sales Direct Purchase (DSDP) contracts; $3 billion AKK pipeline contract; financing allocation funding contracts worth $3 billion; and NPDC production service contracts worth $3-$4 billion.

In what appeared a description of his growing frustration with the NNPC boss; Kachikwu penned these lines which led to many Nigerians calling on President Buhari to swing into action:

As in many cases of things that happen in NNPC these days, I learn of transactions only through publications in the media. The question is, why is it that other parastatals which I supervise as Minister of State or chair their boards are able to go through these contractual and mandatory governance processes and yet NNPC is exempt from these?" Baru would later provide a defence, and he came short of accusing Kachikwu of knowing only a fraction of the laws governing contractual processes at the NNPC. The issue has since died naturally, with both the accuser and the accused mending fences.

Babachir Lawal's multi-million naira grass-cutting scandal

His appointment as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF was hailed by those who knew him as a demonstration of President Buhari's readiness to do away with the recycling culture that had permeated the polity for decades. The SGF Office is seen as one of the most influential in the Presidency, given its pivotal role in policy drive, monitoring and evaluation.

Not long after he was appointed to supervise the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE), allegations of fraud were levied against him, prompting calls for his sack, arrest and prosecution. 

Lawal who hails from Adamawa State, was accused of awarding a grass-cutting contracts to Josmon Technologies Limited, which thereafter paid about N317 million to Rholavison Engineering Company Limited, owned by the former SGF.

Worrisome still is that the grass-cutting contract was awarded while Lawal was still the nation's chief scribe; a clear breach of the nation's code of conduct for public officers and the Procurement Act. A total of at least five companies were alleged to have transferred millions of money to Lawal's company and into his private account with Diamond Bank PLC in tranches.

Additionally, he was said to have awarded contracts to cronies who owned firms that failed to pass the requirements set by law.

However, rather than calling on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to wade into the matter, President Muhammadu Buhari set up a panel to investigate the issues raised and on October 30, 2017, he accepted the recommendations of the panel, headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

He was subsequently ordered to vacate his office while a fellow Adamawa indigene, Boss Mustapha was appointed in his stead. Buhari had earlier cleared Lawal on the grounds that the National Assembly which first investigated the matter did not give him a fair hearing. National outcry followed and the President appointed the Osinbajo panel.

Although the EFCC submitted the report of its independent investigation to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, no action has been taken yet, fuelling insinuations that the man may have been left off the hook. 

Professor Usman Yusuf NHISGATE 

He exhibited an uncommon stubbornness that shocked not only those bent on seeing him quit his office but many Nigerians as well. Professor Usman Yusuf, until recently, the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS last year was on the spotlight for reasons bordering on alleged corruption and abuse of office. NHIS chairman, Mrs. Enyatu Ifenre while testifying before a panel set up by the House of Representatives, accused Usman of paying consultants N508 million without recourse to due process.

She also claimed that the Professor spent another N48 million on staff training without the approval of the governing board of the scheme as required by law. He was also accused by the representative of the Civil Servants Association of Health Workers, Omomeji Abdulrazak of awarding corts worth N46 million and N17.5 million for maintenance and capacity building to Lubek Nigeria Limited; a company Usman allegedly had controlling interest and owned by his nephew, Hassan Yusuf. His accusers also claimed that he spent N567 million for the payment of his seven police orderlies without approval.

With persistent call for his removal getting louder; President Buhari finally ordered his ouster but not a word has been heard from the anti-corruption agencies.

Kemi Adeosun's NYSC certificate ordeal 

Her British accent complimented an undeniable brilliance to cap a fulfilled life for pretty Kemi, who after earning deserved ovation for doing pretty well to reflate the Ogun state economy as Finance commissioner, got appointed as Minister of Finance. 

She did get a pat on the back for steering the economy during the turbulent days of recession; Kemi would later get more than she bargained for when news filtered in that the National Youth Service Corps Exemption certificate she paraded was forged. 

She threatened legal action and sang her innocence to high heavens but the media stuck to its guns, insisting that Kemi, a graduate of Economics from the University of East London, indeed presented a forged the certificate. Some reports claimed the ground was getting set to fire her until she threw in the towel, tendered an apology and left the shores of Nigeria in controversial circumstances.

What pained many Nigerians to the bones was the defence put up by Presidential aide, Professor Itse Sagay to the effect that Kemi should be left on her job even as he questioned the relevance of the scheme.

"Who cares about youth service? I don't bloody care whether she did youth service or not. It is irrelevant as far as I am concerned,' Sagay, a Professor of Law was quoted as saying. Kemi left Nigeria without the law taking its course l 

Okoi Obono-Obla WAEC Certificate controversy

Like Adeosun, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecutions, Mr. Okoi Obono Obla is enmeshed in certificate forgery scam. A report by the House of Representatives panel indicted him for allegedly forging his secondary school certificate, with which he secured admission to the University of Jos to study Law.

The University, called upon to state its position, held that the result deposed was the same one used by Obono-Obla to gain admission into its Law faculty. 

However, the lawyer brushed aside the allegations, claiming that the lawmakers lacked the powers to investigate criminal matters.

Maina's ghost-mode and missing billions 

Abdulrasheed Mina first came into national limelight when he was appointed chairman, Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms. Rather than clean up the mess, he was soon involved in allegations of N2 billion Pension Biometric Scam in the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.

Before calls for his arrest became public, he ran away even as the Interpol were put on the alert. In a dramatic twist however, he made his way back into the civil service under the present administration, with a promotion and a new desk at the Ministry of Interior. With Nigerians bent on seeing the end of the matter, Borno-born Maina ran away for the second time and has since not been seen.

Ganduje's video

Kano state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje was recorded collecting bribe in foreign currency in what has been described as kickback from contractors working for the state government. A voice in the video could be heard telling the governor, "I think you should collect this money before anyone walks in. "I think you should put it on your body to conceal it with your babanriga." 

No one expects any action given Ganduje's immunity as provided in Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). So, what is to be made of the anti-corruption war ably led by President Buhari? For Mike Ozekhome, SAN, human rights activist and Constitutional lawyer, there is no such thing as anti-corruption at the moment.

Speaking exclusively to Saturday Vanguard, Edo-born Ozekhome said, "There is not and has never been any true fight against corruption.

What we have had has been an onslaught on opposition and critical voices, whilst the government carefully protects the corrupt elements in their midst.

Over 90% of the cases in court against these people arise from Peoples Democratic Party, PDP campaign funds which were privately sourced. Meanwhile, all the campaign funds of the ruling ALL Progressives Congress, APC have never been investigated, including those that funded the President. Some were indicted by Commissions of Inquiry in their states, but the government has never prosecuted any of them.

All you need do to be cleansed of your corruption is to decamp and join the APC Like Naman, the leper who was dipped into River Jordan 7 times and became immediately cleansed of leprosy."

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