​IS BUHARI GENUINELY FIGHTING CORRUPTION OR HUNTING OPPOSITION LEADERS?

By Afam Ikeakanam

It is undeniable that corruption constitutes a clog in the wheel of Nigeria’s development. This phenomenon is no foreigner in our shores. One of the often recycled justifications for every change of government in Nigeria during the dark nights of military dictatorship was the deep rooted corruption in our public space. Such has been the history of Nigeria’s politics that the word, corruption, has morphed into a national lure. 

According to the Corruption Perceptions Index of 2014 released by Transparency International, Nigeria was ranked as the 36th most corrupt country out of 175 nations that were assessed. Thus, President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to tackle corruption, one of the cardinal pillars of his change agenda, resonated with Nigerians and paved the way for his victory at the polls. Buhari was perceived as one who would neither play to the gallery nor be afraid to call anyone to account, unlike previous governments before him. But a year after, Nigerians seem perplexed about the selective fight against corruption by their president.

Sambo Dasuki, the former National Security Adviser, was accused of diverting US$2.1 billion which was meant for the purchase of arms. Despite being granted bail by three judges, the Department of State Security (DSS) rearrested Dasuki in November 2015. Since then, he has been in the custody of the DSS. Irked by this blatant disregard for court orders, Dasuki approached the Court of the Economic Community of West African States, which earlier this month, berated the Nigerian government for the unlawful manner in which Dasuki’s house was searched and his lingering detainment. 

Critics of this administration have accused this government of employing media trials and propaganda to stifle dissenting voices. It appears in the eyes of Buhari, one is deemed guilty until proven otherwise. Thus, subverting the basic tenets of legal jurisprudence, that it is better for many guilty persons to go free than for an innocent man to suffer the indignity of injustice. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently detained the wife and baby of Femi Fani-Kayode, one of Buhari’s strong critics. The EFCC in its usual style alleged that there was about N2 million in Femi’s wife’s account. To the surprise of many, the said account had less than N300, 000 as revealed by a screenshot of the account statement.

Patience Jonathan, former First Lady, made headline news when the EFCC accused her of corruption. The agency claimed it had discovered US$31.4 million in Mrs. Jonathan’s account which it immediately froze. However, some days later, the same EFCC recanted its earlier claim to say that Mrs. Jonathan only had US$8.2 million. This change of course was due to the threat handed down to the EFCC by Mrs. Jonathan’s attorneys. In this line, Ugochukwu Osuagwu, a lawyer, said the fight against corruption “must not be seen as unleashing vendetta, vindictiveness and carefully planned and rehearsed witch-hunt.” The selective anti-corruption fight of this administration has seen other People’s Democratic Party (PDP) stalwarts like Olisa Metuh and Raymond Dokpesi being charged for receiving part of the US$2.1 billion alleged to have been stolen by Dasuki. 

Buhari’s “boys” are not only in the executive; he has his puppets in the judiciary. One of them is Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, who has been acting the script of the APC. Buhari, through Justice Abang, has used the machinery of justice to silence the main opposition party, the PDP. It was Abang who nullified the election of Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State. His judgment raped the law and if upheld, would have snuffed life out of our nascent democracy. All these were subtle ploys to decimate the opposition by Buhari.

Lagos lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, who has been very critical of Buhari’s government, was arrested by the EFCC for allegedly obtaining money to the tune of N61 million under false pretence. He was accused of conspiring with others to lease a property in Lagos; despite knowing that the property was under interim forfeiture by a Lagos State High Court. This allegation is fictitious as it was hurriedly dished out some days after Adegboruwa’s firm represented Chief Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) and Mr. Azibaola Robert, cousin of former President Jonathan. This and many other infractions only signal that this government is out to silence dissenting voices. 

The disregard for the rule of law makes a mockery of Buhari’s anti-corruption war. Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, has been detained and denied a fair trial. Also, the EFCC froze the account of Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State without obtaining a court order as prescribed by Section 34 of the EFCC Act.

While apologists claim that Buhari is fighting corruption without fear or favour, this government harbours people with questionable reputations. The President finds it difficult to even consider a petition on any of his appointees. Buhari’s Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has been accused by the Rivers State government of squandering N3 trillion while he was governor of the state. Recently, two justices of the Supreme Court accused Amaechi of trying to manipulate them in order to influence the outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling in certain gubernatorial appeals. Buhari has also turned a blind eye to the accusations leveled against Tukur Buratai, Abdulrahman Dambazau and Abba Kyari, his pals.

It is convincing that Buhari’s fight against corruption is lopsided. We are currently experiencing a reincarnation of the bible story of the Passover; when the angel of anti-corruption sees the broom, he shall pass over you. I am not averse to the fight against corruption as I am suffering from the mass looting of our common purse. However, the government should fight corruption with decency and all sincerity. The war should not wear a human face; it should be total irrespective of whether one is holding the broom or beneath the umbrella. Indeed, the much spoken about change should begin with Buhari. By doing that, he would prove that he belongs to everybody and to nobody.

​IS BUHARI GENUINELY FIGHTING CORRUPTION OR HUNTING OPPOSITION LEADERS? 

By Adekunle F. Adebajo

George Orwell never stepped foot on the shores of Nigeria. Yet, his classic novel published a decade and a half before Nigeria’s independence seems to have as much to do with this nation as it does with the late communist actors. Animal farm narrates to us the story of Napoleon who rides to power on the backs on nine young but enormous dogs, who blames Snowball, his counterpart, for any slice of misfortune and who does not hesitate to literally walk in the footsteps and style of the human oppressors who once lorded over them.

By the same token, Muhammadu Buhari pulled himself to power by the bootstraps of the country’s young population. He and his workers have not relented in tracing every ill of the nation back to his predecessor[1]. Worst of all, he seems also to have fallen under the spell of the Aso Villa’s witches of folly and luxury. As bad as all these sound though, many a Nigerian does not bother as long as the nation is rescued from the proboscis of corruption. The million-dollar question however is: how well as he fared even in this regard?

The current administration, if we must be honest, has been gyrating back and forth like a roller coaster. And President Buhari’s steps, as my mother would have put it, is like that of the Ijebu dance – ajo siwaju, ajo seyin (swaying repeatedly like a pendulum). On the one hand, we see a Buhari who is keeping true to his vow of fighting corruption. As a matter of fact, this is the hand fan with which Nigerians cool off at a period of economic downturn. Whenever we have to buy a sachet of water for 10 Naira, we remind ourselves that the president is fighting corruption. Whenever we hear of the havocs caused by our vengeful brothers in the East and the imperious nomads from the North, we remind of ourselves that the president is fighting corruption. Whenever we have to trek long distances because new transport rates are beyond our reach, we think about the new sheriff and his anti-corruption crusade. 

Since his ascension to the seat of power, quite a number of the President’s actions point in the direction of a genuine fight against corruption. One is the implementation of the Treasury Single Account policy in order to monitor the flow of funds and block leakages in government circles[2]. Even before he was sworn in, he was reported to have read the ‘riot act’ to his family, promising no protection should they violate the laws of the land[3]. Also, just this month, he admonished the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe his family members if they are found to be corrupt[4].

To the delight of all, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced that cash recoveries made between May 29, 2015 and May 25, 2016 totalled over 3.4 trillion Naira[5]. And then, the inauguration of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption as well as the National Prosecution Coordination Committee put to rest any strand of doubt as to the primary objective of this administration.

However, as the saying goes, it is the same full moon of today that wanes tomorrow. While President Buhari was able to win the election due to his toga of integrity, his popularity has continued to wane as a result of this same toga’s accumulation of dirt. Though Professor Itse-Sagay asserted that his anti-corruption committee would also go after APC members, it is as clear as day that that has not been the case[6].

As Femi Aribisala rightly pointed out, if the EFCC can probe Sule Lamido who was governor of Jigawa state for eight years, why has the same not been done to Rotimi Amaechi and Rabiu Kwankwaso who were also governors under PDP before they cleverly jumped the fence over to the immune premises of the APC[7]? Similarly, the president’s silence has been deafening over allegations of impropriety slammed on such individuals as Lawal Babachir, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff to the President and Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the Green Chambers[8].

I cannot help but recall my high school days as a Class Captain. One of my duties was to record the names of students who made noise in order to promote decorum. But the day I enlisted Ohacho Cystus in this infamous roll, the entire class surprisingly took exception for Cystus was my best friend. And so, I understand it may be difficult to swing the sword of justice regardless of whose nose is bruised. Nonetheless, that is exactly why Nigerians voted for the General. Of all people, President Buhari should understand that the other room becomes deserted or is left to fallow once a married couple are having a quarrel. It is thus baffling to find him freely hobnobbing with persons with stained moral fibres and questionable characters.

I urge the President to borrow leaflets from the legacy of Lee Kuan Yew and his ‘whiter than white’ approach to anti-graft war. I urge to him to take a cue from Dr John Magufuli of Tanzania and from his aversion to extravagance. Let him please read and learn from the tales of Julius Caesar who divorced Pompeia, his wife, for she “ought not even to be under suspicion.” If he refuses to do this, he certainly will soon realise that the power of the people far exceeds that of the people in power.

The underlying philosophy which guided the revolution of animals in George Orwell’s classic is that all animals are equal. But as time passed, this seventh commandment beautifully inscribed on the farm wall soon bowed to corruption. It welcomed the additive, “but some animals are more equal than others.” President Buhari once told us that he belongs to everybody and he belongs to nobody. Hopefully, this will also not welcome the afterthought – but I belong to some nobodies more than others – if it already has not.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Levinus Nwabughiogu: Recession: Why I Can’t Stop Blaming OBJ, Yar’Adua, Jonathan – Buhari. Published by Vanguard Nigeria on October 1, 2016

2. ‘Buhari Orders Federal Ministries, Agenise to Open Treasury Single Account,’ published by Premium Times on August 9, 2015

3. Ibraheem Hamza Muhammad: Fight Against Corruption: Buhari Reads ‘Riot Act’ to Family Members. Published by DailyTrust on April 26, 2015

4. ‘Probe My Children, Family Members If Corrupt’ – Buhari Tells EFCC. Published by Nigerian Monitor on October 10, 2016

5. Keeping His Promise, Buhari Announces Recovery of N3.4 Trillion in One Year. Published by ThisDayLive on June 5, 2016

6. Buhari’s Anti-Corruption Committee to Go after APC Member Too. Published by NAIJ.com ‘one year ago.’

7. Femi Aribisala: The Greed and Rascality of the APC. Published on the Vanguard Newspaper on February 9, 2016

8. Farooq Kperogi: Aisha Buhari and the Evil Aso Rock Cabal. Published by DailyTrust on October 22, 2016

​AFRICA v. THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: THE TIME FOR CONTINENTAL REFORMS

The already severely strained relationship between the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Africa has worsened as The Gambia announced its withdrawal from the Court. The small West African nation joins South Africa and Burundi who have signified their intentions to withdraw from the ICC. It seems as if the log which had hitherto blocked the eyes of African states is gradually falling off. The Gambia, just like South Africa and Burundi, is fed up with the ICC’s Western bias. To this end, it had no choice but to rechristen the ICC as “International Caucasian Court” due to the Court’s perceived dedication to the prosecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans.

The ICC was established by the Rome Statute for the purpose of trying the most serious crimes of international concerns which are genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and acts of aggression. Africa’s antagonistic relationship with the ICC had not been the case from the outset. With the horrors of the Rwandan genocide in mind, Africa was very instrumental to the establishment of the ICC. On February 12, 1999, Senegal was the first state to ratify the Rome Statute. Also, by Congo’s ratification of the Statute on April 11, 2001, the treaty entered into force. As at October 2016, out of the 124 countries that are state parties to the ICC, 34 are African, the highest compared to other continents. Despite the perceived longtime hostilities between the duo, the above shows that ICC has historically enjoyed Africa’s support.

The current turbulence in the relationship between the duo was sparked off by the ICC’s quest to arrest Omar Al-Bashir, the Sudanese President, in 2008. The controversy was further amplified by the ICC’s prosecution of Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kenyan President and his deputy, William Ruto. The repercussions of these actions still reverberate throughout the continent as it negates the principle of presidential immunity, which is the linchpin of African governance. Since then, the relationship between the duo has denigrated with the ICC being accused of channeling its resources to intimidate and humiliate Africans, while turning a blind eye to Western war crimes. 

In the ICC’s 14-year existence, all but one of its investigations are based in Africa. One of the reasons for the establishment of the ICC was the need to have an independent criminal court free from politics. In reality, the reverse is the case. The ICC has failed to initiate investigations in some superpower states accused of international crimes. Are the crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction only committed in Africa? The ICC, through its actions and inactions, has appeared to be a hegemonic tool of the Western powers. Despite these assertions, I believe we (Africa) are the craftsmen of our castigation. We have been humiliated by the ICC because of the failure of our leadership and systems. 

Our judicial system is in a mess. The inability of our national courts to address the grave crimes that were committed on our shores led the governments of Congo, Uganda, the Central African Republic and Mali to refer their cases to the ICC. Do the so-called Western states refer criminal cases to the ICC? No! Our referrals show that we have failed to develop a dependable legal system capable of administering justice. Our judicial system is inherently corrupt. It is one in which justice is given to the highest bidder. The recent clampdown on alleged corrupt judges in Nigeria and the dismissal of judges in Ghana reveals the rot in the system. For many Africans, the ICC is their only hope and this should not be the case. Africans should have confidence in the integrity of its judiciary. 

The African Union (AU) has not been helpful. It has stirred up disdain by African states for the ICC. The AU fails to understand that by instigating withdrawal from the ICC without having effective indigenous judicial mechanisms, we are shooting ourselves in the leg. If we all abandon the ICC, do we have any credible regional or continental judicial institution capable of prosecuting international crimes? No! We will end up at the brutish state we found ourselves in before the ICC’s emergence. The AU and other regional bodies have initiated the process of actualising Africa’s resistance to the ICC by clothing its proposed African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR) and the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) with the power to try international crimes. The question is: would these courts be equipped to handle these special crimes? Till date, the African Court on Human and People’s Rights (the predecessor of ACJHR) and the EACJ have been hamstrung by various constraints which have made them achieve little and this makes it doubtful if these courts can achieve their proposed lofty objectives.

To many, the ICC is a tool for justice in our continent which is characterised by chronic impunity. The recent happenings in Libya and Egypt and the number of sit-tight presidents reveal that we have megalomanic and kleptocratic leaders who use the government machinery for their self-serving purposes. Our track record of human rights abuses is alarming. The AU has also failed to issue a definite statement on the urgency to get the continent rid of immunity. It has also failed to mobilise its member states to protect the rule of law and promote the protection of human rights. No wonder it is referred to as a toothless bulldog. 

There is the need to strengthen our feeble judicial system. Each African state must develop the capacity to effectively investigate and prosecute international crimes committed within its borders. We must improve our domestic legal systems so that justice would be delivered fairly and timely. The governments should also ensure absolute independence of the judiciary. The independence of ACJHR should be asserted from the outset. The judiciary, both at national and regional levels, should be comprised of qualified judges who would effectively carry out the mandates of the courts. 

African states should reiterate their commitments to combating impunity and promoting a free democratic society which upholds the rule of law. Our leaders must be made to know that no one is above the law. They are amenable to the laws of the land, and when they are found guilty of contravention, they would face the wrath of the law. Governments at all levels must guarantee the fundamental rights of its subjects. We have been ridiculed enough. There should be an overhaul of our legal and judicial systems. As Barack Obama said, “Africa needs strong institutions and not strongmen.” Since we have decided to adopt African solutions for African problems, then we must do it the right way. When this is done, we can boldly tell the West and the ICC to rot in hell for all we care.

STELLA AMEYO ADADEVOH: LOST IN SERVICE TO NIGERIA

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In March 2014, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared there was an outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Guinea, Nigeria had no idea what was coming for her. The disease then rapidly spread like wildfire to the neighbouring countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone. As with every tragic foreign headline, Nigerians empathised with the affected nations, prayed for the eradication of the virus and the quick recuperation of the victims.
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MR. PRESIDENT, SAY SOMETHING!

Silence in the midst of hideous situations has become the signature of Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari. Earlier this month, 80 people were alleged to have been killed in Benue State by Fulani herdsmen, yet Mr. President uttered no word of comfort to the grieving State. There have been series of attacks by these herdsmen in Benue State which sadly happens to be the regular prey and it has been silence all the way from the presidency. The killing of up to 50 persons in Ikorodu, Lagos State in the twilight of June was greeted with silence. The latest in our memory is the wanton killing of a deaconess of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Eunice Olawale, who was killed in the early hours of July 9 while she went for her usual morning preaching. As usual, Mr. President kept mute.
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THE PARADOX OF A “FREE” STATE

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The United States of America (USA) prides itself in being a society that is hinged on liberty (political, religious and civil liberties). Regrettably, the recent shooting at Pulse nightclub, Orlando which claimed the lives of 49 people and left up to three scores injured brings to light some of the noxious aftereffect of their most cherished value, “liberty.” Liberty not only connotes the state of being able to act and speak freely but also includes the state of being free from physical, economic, social and psychological restraints. With the unabated mass shootings in the USA, some citizens and visitors would become psychologically (and possibly, physically) restrained as they would not be able to move out in assurance of some measure of security as they would become uncertain as to where and when the next shooting might occur and who the victim(s) might be.

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THE SCRAPPING OF THE POST UTME AND MATTERS ARISING

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It is no longer news that the Federal Government through the Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, has scrapped the Post Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (Post UTME) conducted by universities for the sole purpose of admitting students. The Post UTME is organised after the first general examination, the UTME, conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

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MR. PRESIDENT, CONSIDER THE CONFAB REPORT!

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“No, I do not want to tell different stories. I advised against the issue of National Conference. You would recall that ASUU was on strike then for almost nine months. The teachers in the tertiary institutions were on strike for more than a year, yet the government had about  N9 billion to organise that meeting (National Conference)…That is why I have not even bothered to read it or ask for a briefing on it and I want it to go into the so-called archives.”

Those were the words of President Muhammadu Buhari as he responded to questions fielded by Abraham Ogbodo and Jewell Dafinone of The Guardian Newspaper during an interview to speak about his experiences in his one year in office as the Chief Executive Officer of our nation, Nigeria. As expected, the President’s response has sparked a wave of comments and criticisms from Nigerians.

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OUR SMARTPHONES, OUR BEST FRIENDS

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The creation of mobile phones is one phenomenon which we, human beings, would forever be grateful for. Mobile phones were made to ease communication amongst humans. With mobile phones, we need not leave our homes before we can be in touch with our friends and relatives. We need not wait for weeks or months before speaking with our loved ones who have travelled abroad. We need not wait for months for our letters to be replied by post. From the comfort of our rooms in any village, we can communicate with our beloved ones the world over in instant time. Phones were made to bridge communication gaps, to ensure seamless communication and to enable us be in constant communion with those we cherish the most. Ultimately, breaking the barrier of distance.

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