As the on-going war against corruption gains momentum, prosecution of culprits has been visibly stalled by various tricks displayed by malefactors in a desperate bid to undermine the course of justice.
Based on our own observations which recent revelations have confirmed, corruption has permeated the psyche of Nigerians so much that many have accepted it as a way of life. To make matters worse, corrupt elite facing trial across the country have delayed the wheel of justice through cleverly thought out schemes and tricks in a bid to buy time in their various cases.
These stalled trials therefore result in indefinite postponement of corruption cases and reduction in deterrent punishments meted out to those convicted. It also results in: counter attacks by those arraigned; disappearance of the alleged perpetrators and many more vices in the criminal justice system.
It is pertinent to point out that some notable corruption cases have been stalled by one shenanigan or the other, especially that of sudden illness that has been over-used by suspected corrupt leaders.
For instance, the case of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke stands out in this category. The former minister’s corruption cases have broken all known records in the past few years as she has been linked to a series of money laundering scandals that are too many to count. In order to curry sympathy for Allison-Madueke from the unwary public, a photograph of the physically-ravaged former Minister was circulated by the publisher of Ovation magazine, Dele Momodu, who confirmed that she had been receiving treatment for breast cancer. This was despite the fact that she had denied such reports before corruption allegations against her started piling up.
Also, the Former presidential adviser on Niger Delta and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Kingsley Kuku, was rumoured to have fled Nigeria after he was invited for questioning by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2015. Kuku later responded to the rumour by releasing images of his knee operation in the United States and denied being a fugitive. He later launched an unsuccessful attempt in court to block the EFCC from arresting him as he remained at large.
And just recently, Former National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, made a dramatic entrance into an Abuja Federal High Court on Monday, when he was wheeled into the courtroom on a stretcher to face his fraud trial. Metuh joins a long list of Nigerian politicians who have developed health challenges after being accused of one form of corruption or the other.
The present anti-corruption war must result in the plugging of gaping holes and the blocking of the conduit pipes of corrupt and sharp practices to avoid a backsliding to the culture of corruption we are gradually leaving behind as a nation.
As such, CACOL calls on the various anti-graft agencies operational in the country to devise counter measures to ensure that these attempts to stall the course of justice are resisted. We also implore the Federal Government not to allow tricks by those seeking to escape the full wrath of the law to dampen its zeal in the attempt to holistically eradicate corruption in Nigeria.
The Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has welcomed the news of the eventual passage of 2018 budget by both chambers of the National Assembly with bated relief and cautious optimism.
CACOL Executive Chairman, Mr. DeboAdeniran, noted that the national budget is finally seeing the light of day almost five months behind schedule with N9.12tn (Nine trillion, One Hundred and twelve Million Naira) approved as against an initial proposal of N8.612tn (Eight Trillion, Six Hundred and twelve Million Naira) submitted on November 7, 2017, by the Presidency.
In same statement by the CACOL Chairman noted that the budget document shows provision for debt servicing of about 23% (Twenty Three percent) of the entire budget and reflected on how “this calls for a serious rethink in our debts accumulation, management and dispensation if we were to ever break from a depressing state of national dependency and underdevelopment”. While agreeing that borrowing for infrastructural development and other avenues that could rejig productivity and self-reliance are not condemnable, Mr Adeniran noted that “the resultant effects of such debt profile should be made manifest within a reasonable length of time while conscious efforts are made towards a healthier economy through bigger Gross Domestic Product (GDP), National Security of people and their properties and other veritable indices of growth and development”.
Mr. Debo Adeniran further said, “CACOL greets the increase in budget volume for the Health sector by a significant shift, especially the final approval of 1% of the overall budget voted towards primary health care provision, which is long overdue. However, the organization decries the embarrassing low budget allocation to Educational sector. Though the N541.2b (Five Hundred and Forty One billion, Two Hundred Million Naira) allocation seems a significant increase from less than N400b allocated to same sector last year, the import of less than 7% macro allocation pales when compared to 26% (Twenty six percent) UNESCO recommendation to education.”
“Also, Nigeria’s allocation to Educational sector has consistently remained one of the lowest even in the West African sub-region with countries like Cote D’ivoire allocating 25 percent, Ghana- 23%, Cape Verde -13 percent, Benin Republic- 15%, etc. On face value, this gives a veiled abhorrence to Education in an age where it is generally agreed that education remains the key to individual and national rebirth, i.e., growth, cohesion and development”, the CACOL Chairman opined.
Advising on the need to fast-track the implementation of the budget due to the late passage of the law, Debo Adeniran averred, “Due to the importance of budget as a veritable mechanism of financial interpretation of and list of to-do by the Government, we call for speedy Presidential assent and strict adherence to its faithful implementation by all organs of government. We also hope and pray for a more robust and speedy passage of our national budget in future”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has urged the nation’s Anti-Corruption agencies to be more diligent in the execution of their duties.
The call was made by the group in a press release issued today by its Executive Chairman Mr Debo Adeniran.
Reacting to the failure of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and Independent and Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission, ICPC, to arraign Senator Jonah Jang and Yusuf Pam before The Plateau State High Court on Monday, the CACOL boss expressed the group’s displeasure with the turn of events leading to the delay in the prosecution of the former governor and his suspected accomplice.
Media reports had indicated that the EFCC’s reason for not producing Senator Jang who has been in its custody for over 168 hours was due to logistical challenges while a court clerk who was queried by the presiding judge on the matter said ICPC officials refused to pick their calls when attempts were made to contact them through telephone.
CACOL’s boss further observed that the average Nigerian was aware of the “African Time Syndrome” in which important arrangements and commitments are left pending until the eleventh hour.
Mr. Adeniran opined that the inability of the EFCC in carrying out its duties effectively can also be on account of inadequate preparedness as the excuses given by the EFCC could have been easily avoided or managed if effective preparations were carried out.
According to him: “While the Centre was not pleased with the delay in prosecution and trial of the Former Governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang, and his accomplices, it would be an unforgivable offence to condemn outrightly all the Anti-Graft Commissions for this uncalculated mistake. The EFCC’s and other various Anti-Graft Commissions and Agencies have been quite pro-active in their contributions to the Anti-Corruption Struggles and their commendable efforts are evident in the various victories that have been recorded in the diligent prosecution and convictions of corrupt individuals in recent times.”
The group therefore urged the Anti-Graft Commissions to be diligent in their activities towards curbing Corruption and all its vices.
According to CACOL: “In the same light, we call on the Government to be more responsive and supportive in rendering assistance required to ensure the fight against corruption is fought holistically.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, received the news of the arraignment of the suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Mounir Gwarzo with much éclat and relief.
It would be recalled that CACOL, had in a letter dated 4th November, 2017, and signed by its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, to the Honourable Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, National Assembly, Abuja, pointing out the flagrant abuse of office by the DG of SEC, who reportedly cornered N104,851,154.94 (One Hundred and Four Million, Eight Hundred and Fifty One Thousand, One and Hundred and Fifty Four Naira, Ninety Four Kobo), which he approved to himself as severance benefit while he was still in the service of the Commission.
This, the Executive Chairman, CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran noted, is in sync with the core mandate of the organization as it sets out to “promote accountability, openness in governance and using any available means to cause relevant authorities to probe and bring to book, corrupt leaders both in public and private institutions.”
The Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Mournir Haliru Gwarzo was also accused of converting the SEC to his personal estate by appointing companies and individuals with special links to him to carry out transactions and provide services to the Commission with obvious intent at corrupt self-enrichment and diversion of public funds.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, therefore views this latest action of the ICPC in respect of Mr. Gwarzo as a welcome development just as we insist that the case be prosecuted to its logical conclusion of not only reversal of all the infractions committed during the short brief of Mr. Gwarzo as the DG, Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC; retrieval of all the identifiable funds expropriated, but searchlight must also include conclusion of requisite judicial trial to serve as deterrent and much needed fillip in our nation’s fight against the much dreaded ghost of corruption while we pledge our continuous support and cooperation in our collective search for a more sanitized and corruption-free Nigeria.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, with clear mandate for anti-corruption crusade and open, transparent governance, while throwing its weight behind the Presidency which through its Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, gave clear instances where three (3) persons stole US3Billion or over N1trillion during the last Administration.
The Senior Special Assistant clearly recalled how the sum of US$3billion was stolen in the so-called NNPC Strategic Alliance Contracts by Messrs Jide Omokore, Kola Aluko and the former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Allison Maduekwe. It was stated inter alia that, ‘the companies of both Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko lifted Nigerian crude oil and kept the proceeds. The total sums converted is in excess of $3billion or over one trillion Naira including royalties, taxes and fees for the asset from which the crude was taken.
There was another set of illegal fund withdrawals under one week between January 8 and 16, 2015, where the sum of N1.5billion was released in three tranches of N300m, N400m and N800m respectively. The money was purportedly from the MEA Research Library Account.’
Speaking on behalf of the anti-graft outfit through its Executive Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran, CACOL enthused “we heartily appreciate the President Muhammed Buhari’s government in exposing the unbridled fleecing of our commonwealth under whatever guise, we (CACOL) enjoin the Administration to not only retrieve all ill-gotten wealth from wherever it has been repatriated, but to ensure that adequate deterrence is meted out on those indicted for the evils of corruptive practices to take flight from our sociopolitical space”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open leadership, CACOL, has commended the efforts of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in securing a new order from the Federal High Court, to seize the sum of $8,435,788.84 and over N7.35bn from accounts linked to the former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, which the Commission has alleged to be; proceeds from unlawful activities.
It would be recalled that The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has in a previous press release, demanded that the former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, explain the sources of her wealth. In the release, the Centre asked for verifiable sources of wealth which she used in building an N10bn hotel in Yenogoa, Bayelsa. CACOL also questioned the source of wealth of the monies found in five bank accounts linked to her.
The Executive Chairman of the Centre, Mr. Debo Adeniran while commending the new development, described the court order as a step in the right direction in fighting against corrupt practices. However, Mr. Adeniran also called for a pervasive probe to help in luminating the true sources of the former First Lady’s wealth as this question have been over-flogged but is yet to be properly addressed.
In expressing the Centre’s point of view on the government effort to holistically eradicate corruption in Nigeria, its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, suggested that, “to efficiently thrive in this war against corruption, we need to take out all the elements responsible for this menace”. He said further that, “confiscating proceeds of alleged loots from publicly exposed persons is not sufficient hence, it is imperative that those involved in the act needs to be given the works, as this would serve as a deterrent to intending defaulters”. Mr. Adeniran explained that several acts of corruptions are done with help from collaborators thus, it is essential to burn the candle at both ends by ensuring that all accomplices are rounded up and adequately punished for whatever roles they play in the crime”.
On transparency, CACOL urged that it is crucial to communicate the proposed disbursement of whatever has been recovered from the corruption culprits to the Nigerian public after diligent prosecution and convictions must have been done with.
Opening Remarks by Comrade Debo Adeniran, Executive Chairman, Centre For Anti-Corruption And Open Leadership, CACOL, at the Exploratory Conference on the Lagos Open Parliament (Part four), LOP-4, held on 3 May, 2018 at the RIGHTS HOUSE, 48, Adeniyi Jones Street, Off Oba Akran Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos
I, on behalf of the entire members of the Centre For Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, am glad to welcome you all to this event. We deeply appreciate the honour you bestowed on us as demonstrated by the timely arrival of everyone here today, for this Exploratory Conference; a key component of the process that will culminate in our periodic Publication called the ‘Lagos Open Parliament, LOP’. We say, a big thank you to all for coming.
Majority of us here today, are conversant with the LOP and can simply aver that, “there goes CACOL again, doing what they know how to do best”. But some are probably just getting to know about the LOP as a Project of our Centre for the first time. It thus becomes imperative to give a background on what the LOP is all about. I therefore crave your indulgence to briefly do so.
The LOP, as a project of CACOL, focuses on the periodic analysis of government’s general performance in Lagos State. The programme utilizes public and media assessments’ of government’s performance including field work (empirical and practical assessments). The research strategy deploys government activities with the goal of ensuring transparency and accountability. The tool includes questionnaires, interviews, news analysis, visual investigations involving the usage of videos and photographs etc.
This exploratory meeting involves gathering of citizens from all local governments in Lagos State to give individual and collective opinions on governance in Lagos State as it affects budgetary implementation and to advise if the tools used and the data collated so far is adequate for such assessment, and if not adequate, this conference is meant to advise on other plausible means of assessing budgetary implementation in Lagos State.
The present LOP is the fourth in the series; the first and second editions were published in 2012 and 2014 respectively during the administration of the immediate past governor of Lagos state. The third edition was done in 2016 during the tenure of the present governor Mr Akinwumi Ambode. The present edition, LOP 4, currently under processing is the second under this administration. It is intended to assess budgetary implementation in Lagos State within the last two years. It is also to serve as an avenue to find out areas that we ought to assess and which we are yet to, as well as a channel to find out if there are areas we have over-assessed that the Lagos public would want us to adjust. This is with a view to ascertaining what the expectations of citizens are so that the State Government can make additional efforts towards meeting them.
We therefore, ask everyone here, to mobilize his or her compatriots towards indentifying the projects we are going to mention here and others that you know of that the Government is embarking on in your area and might not have been captured by what we have compiled so far.
Since our research strategy utilizes different tools to carry out what we consider to be self-assigned patriotic task of monitoring government activities; including questionnaires, interviews, news analysis, visual investigations involving usage of videos and photographs etc., we want you to utilize all the channels that are open to us to give us feedback, so that your contribution will be part and parcel of the final compilation that is going to be published as a booklet called LAGOS OPEN PARLIAMENT 4:
Everybody here is expected to respond to a questionnaire right here and whatever your individual input through the questionnaire shall be computed with the one we have earlier gathered. We also expect you to take some copies of the questionnaire of which photocopies you can also make for other compatriots back home, so they can also respond in their own way and you can transmit them back to us through electronic media if physical return of them may be difficult for you. The electronic links to the LOP-4 questionnaire are: https://goo.gl/forms/EAXMlEVPUlKZRH5C3, #
The LOP, as a Project of our Centre, was conceived to be done annually but dearth of fund and hands, it has not been easy to meet such annual target. For this therefore, we solicit everyone’s cooperation in our efforts to make our government more accountable, more responsible, more responsive to the citizenry who are the original owners of the instrument of governing that is entrusted to the government for public good.
I want to conclude by thanking you all again for honouring our invitation. Please we encourage us all to participate in the deliberations which we promise to be very incisive. We also urge you all to be diligent and candid in your responses to the questionnaires which is meant to enhance true assessment of infrastructural development of our State.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended the Federal Government on the successful recovery and safe-keeping of the $322 million being part of the oil reserve confirmed to have been looted by the late military head-of-state General Sani Abacha which was strategically recouped from the Swiss Government. The Centre, further expressed its delight on the plans of the Government in funding some National social safety nets, which include the areas of education, health, especially; immunization and maternal mortality, and other social infrastructure. These social infrastructures are to be furnished by the purposeful disposition of the Late Abacha’s loot currently being warehoused.
The Centre expressed these views through its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, that the Abacha loot is an unprecedented historic one given the enormity of its figure, recording that while previous Administration were making very little or no progress in its effort at ensuring the retrieval of the fabled looted Abacha sum, the Buhari-led Government has successfully recovered the siphoned funds and diligently apportioned the money in resolving major social declines that has perpetually arrested the development of the Country and her people. He also expressed the group’s concern that after Abacha’s death in 1998, the missing money became the subject of an international lawsuit involving the government of Switzerland where the bulk of the money was discovered indicating that the late former Military maximum ruler single-handedly embezzled the bulk of the Nation’s oil reserves, and in turn threw dust in the eyes of Nigerians.
The Executive Chairman of CACOL, while recalling the issues that arose during the visit of American business magnate, Bill Gates, where Gates gave lots of meaningful insights to the developmental challenges of Nigeria in his speech wherein he suggested that investing in health, education, and welfare opportunities of every Nigerian is the foundation for sustained prosperity in the country. He related the suggestions made by Gates to the planned social development programmes by Federal Government saying, “it is right to say that the Administration is pro-active in resolving the pending issues that has over-time, stunted the growth of the Nation and its people, pauperizing the social attributes of people in the country thus handicapping the development that would have attained in saner climes”. The CACOL Chairman also expressed delight that the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is one to be emulated as it does not only proffer solutions to problems that has been lingering in the country, but also has listening ears to suggestions on how best to make the country’s socio-economic condition thrive better. These traits are not to be discarded nor forgotten on time but to be perpetually treasured and utilized.
Concluding, Mr. Adeniran suggested that, while the Abacha’s loots are being retrieved, it is imperative that a transparent and secure framework be instituted to monitor and regulate the equitable disbursement of the funds to avoid it being re-looted by those overseeing the projects it is appropriated for. Mr. Adeniran further discerned that it would be on history as a fatal Administrative catastrophe if the Abacha’s loot recovered by the Government is re-looted. He also suggested that a deterren sanction be instituted to put officials and organizations that would have access to the appropriated funds in check as this will in-turn, prevent the re-looting of the money.