For the pioneer secretary-general, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Debo Adeniran, extending invitations to citizens by security agencies is not all that matters, rather, the outcome of such invitations that should be of concern to the generality of Nigerians.
Adeniran, who is the Executive Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) added that there are occasions when people make remarks or give information that are not generally available in the public space. When this happens, security agencies may think that such persons could help them shed light on the issues they raised or the remarks that they made. “It has happened to me a couple of times, even in the days of military rule.
“Of course, it is the fundamental right of every citizen to have freedom of speech, association, to hold opinion and disseminate it along the dictate of the law. What should not be tolerated is a situation whereby people who do not make inflammatory remarks, are unjustly invited. It should be noted that there is no freedom that is absolute anyway,” the consultant educationalist added.
He said even when citizens resort to protests, “as long as the protests are not violent, the government does not have any business stopping it. What government should do is to send its agents to join the protesters, listen to their demands, and take the information back to government for it to know the grievances of the citizenry. It is not the business of government to be over sensitive, and resort to stopping peaceful protests with brute force. That is not acceptable in a democracy, and is a violation of citizens’ fundamental rights.
“Even though we agree that no right is absolute. But the government should be tolerant of opposing remarks. Instead of chasing after the messenger, government should find a way of fixing the complaints and ensuring that there is good governance, accommodation and tolerance.”
Attempts to get the Presidency to comment on the travails of Mailafia, the former Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) in the 2019 general election failed as presidential spokespersons, Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina failed to respond to emails or calls and text messages sent to their mobile phones.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for taking the right decision in a bid to calm frayed nerves at the University of Lagos.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Mr. Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Acting Director, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “it would be recalled that due to the aftermath of the announcement of the removal of Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as the University’s Vice-Chancellor on Wednesday 12th of August, 2020 at a meeting of the governing council held in Abuja, there have been several reactions from different quarters.
On our part, as a concerned civil society organization, we tried to intervene in the crisis. It is on record that a letter was sent to the President, Muhammadu Buhari on 11th December, 2019 titled “MISAPPLICATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS: MATTERS ARISING” in which we suggested that “the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces as the Visitor to the university could also seize the constitutional provisions to, direct the National Universities Commission (NUC) to set up a visitation panel to visit and examine the state of University of Lagos (UNILAG) as at today and act upon their findings and recommendations”.
It should also be noted that in our press release dated 19th August, 2020, “we called on Mr. President who is the Visitor to the University to intervene in the ugly situation playing out at the University”
The CACOL boss said “it gladdens our heart when we read the government’s position on the crisis as contained in a statement issued on Friday night by the Director, Press and Public Relations, in the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Bem Goong. The statement in which the University’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe and the chairman of its Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN), was directed to step aside pending the outcome of the Special Visitation Panel set up by the President, Muhammadu Buhari. The statement also directed the Senate of the university to “nominate an acting vice-chancellor from amongst its members for confirmation by the Governing Council.”
CACOL therefore commends President Muhammadu Buhari’s wisdom for intervening in the crisis rocking the University before it goes out of hand. The decision taken by the President was in line with our earlier position as stated in the letter we sent to the President and our last press release on the same issue.
We have always believed in the principle of University Autonomy which is the institutional form of academic freedom and a necessary precondition to guarantee the proper fulfillment of the functions entrusted to higher-education teaching personnel and institutions.
We hope this intervention will not in any way violate the autonomy being enjoyed by the university and also believe this will bring a lasting solution to the crisis and engender peace and mutual co-existence between all the stakeholders of the university.
Mr. Tola Oresanwo
Acting Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL
Anti-corruption groups, including Transparency International and the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, have condemned the Lagos State House of Assembly for sending wives of the state lawmakers to Dubai at the cost of N80m.
The Speaker of the House, Madashiru Obasa, had told a panel of inquiry set up to probe corruption allegations levelled against him that the N80m was spent on training the wives of 20 lawmakers in Dubai with a budget of N4m each, adding that he declared the event open.
Obasa had said, “We gave N4m to each of the participants for air ticket, hotels, feeding and local travel. An air ticket to Dubai alone costs about N2m.
“The House of Assembly is above common standard of excellence and we have to train people, and this comes at a cost. Learning is not cheap and I have never collected N80m for estacode at a go before.”
But speaking to The PUNCH, Auwal Musa, aka Rafsanjani, the Head of TI in Nigeria, said it was saddening that N80m would be spent on such an event when the health and education sectors in the state were in shambles.
Rafsanjani, who is also the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, said an act could still be deemed as corrupt even if it is approved officially.
The TI head said, “If this is not corruption, what would you call this? The truth is that there is something called official stealing, looting and diversion of funds and it is happening across Nigeria and what the Lagos Assembly has done is just to tell you what is going on in other states.
“It is also a reflection of what is happening at the federal level because states usually emulate the federal. Nigeria’s democracy has been hijacked by those stealing the funds meant for development. Imagine how many communities would have clean water if that money was spent on development?
“Imagine if the money was used in equipping a primary health centre? Why spend it on legislators’ wives?”
Also speaking, the Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, said, “For me, it is not really the N80m that matters but the fact that the state is not supposed to spend a dime on the wives of lawmakers who are not even elected officials. These legislators are already receiving outrageous allowances which ought to cater for their families.
“They need to explain to us why it was important for the wives of lawmakers, women who were not elected, to be trained in Dubai.”
Similarly, the Chairman, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, Olanrewaju Suraju, said the spending could not have been included in the state’s budget.
“Lagos Assembly has 40 lawmakers out of which 37 are men. How come it is the wives of 20 that were taken for that controversial event? That money could not have been included in the budget. I don’t believe the wives even travelled but the money was just transferred to them.”
He called on anti-corruption agencies to investigate the trip.
Suraju said, “Constitutionally, it is inappropriate; these are not members of the parliament.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has called on anti-corruption agencies in the country for necessary investigation of fraud allegation rocking the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Mr Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Coordinator, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran, he stated, “It would be recalled that Fraud running into hundreds of millions of naira has been reportedly uncovered in the Lagos State Waste Management Authority. The Punch newspaper reported that the beneficiaries were some contractors, who engaged street sweepers for the cleaning of Lagos roads. It was learnt that due to the connection of some of the culprits, who are mostly politicians, there was fear nothing would be done about the discovery. It was also reported that a former Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of LAWMA, Dr Muyiwa Gbadegesin, was said to have been removed as storms gathered on allegations of fraud in the system. It was also reported that the running cost of LAWMA rose from about N540m to N1bn and the governor, who wanted to save money, asked the former Managing Director to step aside for an audit while the new Managing Director, Mr Ibrahim Odumboni, was asked to oversee the process.
“The report, detailed how the management of the agency had been siphoning public funds through corrupt practices of padded wage bills by contractors of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority and passed the cost to government as the salaries of their workers”.
“The PUNCH reported that trouble started when auditors got to the Ikorodu area to verify claims made by the contractor in charge of the route. She (contractor) was identified as Iron Lady and allegedly had 66 routes assigned to her. The woman, it was said, claimed to have 2,310 workers. The auditors discovered that most of the names submitted by the woman to collect money were non-existent, while a number of the routes were unkempt. Based on the figures she submitted to the government, her company was collecting over N80m monthly from LAWMA. On the appointed day, only half of the number she gave showed up for verification. In some cases, a sweeper would be discovered to own several phones documented under different names”.
The report also has it that the audit was only one week old when a protest broke out among the street sweepers, who claimed that they had not been paid for several months.
The CACOL boss also said “from our direct interactions with some of the sweepers in the State the Punch story is not far from the truth. It is also noteworthy that the Commissioner for the Environment also corroborated the Punch story by saying “there was no reason why the Agency should owe the sweepers because their funding comes directly from the Ministry of Finance”.
The anti-graft czar added, “Considering the strategic and critical role of the agency in the maintenance of cleanliness in the State, we are seriously concerned about the enormity of corruption going on in the waste management authority in the State. We, therefore, call on the anti-corruption agencies to quickly wade into the matter now with a view to sanitizing it and bring those responsible for the alleged fraud to book so as to serve as a deterrent to others while maintaining a cleaner environment for all Lagosians”.
“We, therefore, make a clarion call for the immediate handing over of the former Managing Director of the Agency to the ICPC or EFCC to answer for the allegations. The laxity, mediocrity and ineptitude he brought on LAWMA are the reasons why everywhere was flooded during the week and a few lives and property were lost irretrievably”.
“We also call on the State Commissioner for Environment to as a matter of urgency constitute an emergency Drainage De-silting Exercise to safe people from imminent floods as heavier rains are still expected before the last quarter of the year”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has called on all security agencies and the general public living and operating at Ile Zik Round-about, Ikeja Lagos, to be more vigilant as hoodlums has converted the boat monument into a brothel where unsuspecting victims are lured extorted and raped.
This was contained in a press release issued on behalf of the Centre’s Chairman, Debo Adeniran on Saturday June 20th.
The Centre got wind of these immoral acts through one of its CACOL’s Good Governance, Accountability and Transparency Educators (C-GATE) Units.
According to the CACOL Chairman, “the CGATE Units were created and inaugurated in all Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Developmental Areas(LCDAs) in both Lagos and Osun state to educate the grassroots on how to hold the government accountable and demand transparency through its educators.”
The Chairman expressed worries on the escalation of the nefarious acts perpetrated by the hoodlums in that vicinity during and after relaxation the lockdown.
According to the Mr Adeniran, “report reaching us at one of our C-GATE meetings indicated that this wicked and ungodly act has been persistent underground even before the Coronavirus lockdown and many have fallen prey to the criminals hunt as undergarments, purses, wallets, school bags and one passport picture of a young school girl were found at the suspected crime scene. Although the notoriety of the place had been acknowledged in the recent past, up till this present moment, nothing has been said or done by the law-enforcement agents to detect, investigate and to bring these suspected possible perpetrators of the suspected heinous crimes to book.”
The anti-corruption leader expressed his utmost disappointment towards the security agencies under-performance in curbing street crimes in Lagos, especially during this pandemic crisis.
The CACOL Chairman lamented on the increased rate of crime and sexual violence during this pandemic and urged all security agencies to up their games in bringing it under perpetual check.
According to him, “since the beginning of the pandemic and the attendant lockdown, reports of rape cases have sky-rocketed in all states of the federation, hence the extra vigilance of all security agencies on active duty and the protocol cannot be overemphasized. He urged the authorities to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the capacity of different security agencies are reinforced to ensure maximum protection for the Lagos citizens and that of Nigeria in general.”
The CACOL’S boss therefore demands for an immediate investigation into this demonic and shameful act and diligently prosecute anyone found culpable to ensure that the guilty ones are given deterrent punishment.
In recent years, there have been several stories about the June 12, 1993 elections as the day has come to represent different things to different people with majority Nigerians and political observers concluding that the day symbolizes new dawn in the annals of the nation when a rebirth of new nationhood was about to spring up but unfortunately aborted by the maximum ruler, Ibrahim Babangida (IBB)’s government and what was supposed to be a unifying factor for the multi-various nationalities comprising of the nation, became a most divisive and destructive event. However, more than 25 (Twenty-Five) years after the annulment of the supposed freest and fairest elections in the country, the momentum has taken another angle, especially with the Muhammadu Buhari’s federal government declaring the day the new Democracy Day for the nation rather than May 29, which has no symbolic relevance to the nation than being a transition day from military rule to a democratic government.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) stated that June 12 is more of a day to dignify Ibrahim Babangida (IBB)’s, Government which created political parties and gave them ideologies by writing their manifestoes for them which he called a little to the left and a little to the Right underpinning his amorphous political undertone; built parties Secretariats for them instead of allowing the people to determine what they wanted, ideologically and through financial commitments of their members and their original founders. Political offices were built on his whims rather than where the people actually existed. To keen and informed political observers, everything that happened before, during and immediately after June 12, 1993 elections never signified true democracy in any way; the declaration of the election was not holistic, the open secret ballot system, even the option A4 was never democratic as other political parties were not only disbanded, but their leaders and founders prevented from establishing or belonging to any other political parties thus, preventing generality of the people the free choice to choose who they wanted.
The June 12 incident was the day Abiola acquired the instrumentality of struggle that made him commit grand suicide apparently by taking side with the majority of the Nigerian people that were very poor and ordinarily outside his original bourgeois class. Abiola rekindled the hope of the Nigerian people and fought on their side, ultimately sacrificing his life for what an ordinary and average, toiling Nigerian stood for. He campaigned throughout the length and breadth of the nation to give hope and succour to man in the street. He shocked members of his economic class by declaring that his emergence would signal a new beginning in the annals of socio-economic cum political affairs in the nation and would herald a time where ‘No Nigerian would go to bed on an empty stomach’. To the majority Nigerians, this was the galvanizing factor the MKO Abiola’s presidency represented. He had demonstrated this before with his enormous wealth put at the behest of many unfortunate and struggling Nigerians, from the West, East and South of the nation. It was, therefore, not surprising when he defeated his main rival, Bashir Tofa, at his own polling booth in Kano and most other parts of the nation. It was a day Nigerians collectively put aside their religious, ethnic and nationality grouping aside to vote a Muslim-Muslim ticket throughout the length and breadth of the nation and gave a general mandate to their symbol of ‘Hope 93’ as the slogan adopted by all.
Today, this same day, ironically, has been used by certain elements that were either originally responsible for the unfortunate annulment and destruction of a rare chance of rooting democracy in the country or those people that later ethicized or betrayed the struggle, one way or the other. One of the key figures in that epoch was Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, a Vice Presidential candidate of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, believed to have abandoned the ship when it mattered most and currently a member of the kitchen cabinet to President Muhammadu Buhari’s federal government. This is why the JUNE 12 has become different things to the classes of the ruled and the rulers, to those in government, it represents a day their class survived a major political tsunami, meant to galvanize and mobilize the mass against their rudderless system and supplant their reign, while majority Nigerians view it as a day the masses had an opportunity to free themselves from the shackles of social enslavement and economic miasma. As the Yorubas are wont to aver, “Ninu ikoko dudu ni eko funfun tin jade’, literally meaning we get our white pap from a blackened pot. Though events and activities leading to June 12, 1993, maybe far from being democratic or civil, the symbol of that event, MKO Abiola, seized the momentum to side with the toiling and suffering Nigerians and rekindle their hope in a new Nigeria where religion, ethnicity and other primordial considerations would pave way for merit and excellence in determining leadership and other strivings in the country. Like the United States of America (USA)’s Civil Liberty emblem, Reverend Martin Luther King Jnr., equally assassinated while struggling for racial equality and non-discrimination, Abiola has come to make June 12 an unforgettable moment in Nigeria’s quest for social identity and political/ideological direction. This informs why we advise that the government should declare the day (June 12), MKO Abiola Day never to be forgotten and to reiterate the lesson and occasion when we all chorus and say, NEVER AGAIN. As a civil society organization with a preference for open and responsible leadership that eschews corruption and its devastating effects, we received the news of the NATIONAL STADIUM Abuja being named after this patriotic Nigerian that laid down his life for the emergence of a new Nigeria with so much éclat, we, however, implore the current government to call on the then Humphrey Nwosu’s National Electoral Commission, NECON, to officially declare the final results of the June 12, 1993, Presidential elections, which Chief MKO Abiola won so that he is officially recognized as the 2nd democratically elected Executive President of the nation and accorded all benefits and recognition derivable thereto.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has called for self-isolation of the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, some states’ governors and other dignitaries that attended the last Thursday National Economic Council (NEC) meeting chaired by the Vice President at the Presidential Villa.
In a release issued by CACOL on behalf of the organization’s Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Coordinator, Media and Publications, Adegboyega Otunuga, he averred, “It would be recalled that earlier today, the Senior Special Assistant to the governor of Bauchi state on Media, confirmed that his principal, Bala Mohammed tested positive for coronavirus. This is coming in the heels of revelations suggesting that the governor and former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku’s son, Mohammed Atiku (who has since tested positive and undergoing treatment of the ravaging virus), had met inside an aircraft that headed towards Abuja where he later attended same meeting with other governors and the Vice President. It is therefore imperative that all those at that crucial meeting should be encouraged to go on self-isolation with immediate effect while necessary efforts are made to establish their testing positive or negative.
“Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus on December 31, 2019, there have been nearly 400, 000 (Four Hundred Thousand) cases of affliction with over 18, 000 (Eighteen Thousand reported deaths at the global level while Nigeria has recorded 40 cases, though with only one death reported so far. However, the commendable efforts at prevention and minimization of effects of this virulent epidemic in our shores, seems to have diminished overtime with serious errors of the past resulting into degenerative and sorry state of our public health system, seems to have finally caught up with us as a nation. This has become apparent with dearth of medical facilities and personnel to effectively meet up with the challenge of an outright escalation of the scourge, coupled with inadequate research culture and porous borders dotting our various entry points to the country. This is why CACOL, as an Anti-Corruption coalition is making this clarion call to various tiers of government in the country that, while we commend and appreciate the swift response of the current leadership in the country to the pandemic, we urge the governments and the general public to apprise themselves of the enormity and probable dimensions of this virus and view it with all seriousness it deserves.”
The CACOL Boss added, “Maybe the urgent assignment aside the immediate call of getting all our public office holders to subject themselves to the coronavirus test, is to also restrict the movement of generality of Nigerians within the next couple of weeks so as to motivate all for self-isolation and self-distancing, which could culminate in general assessment of contracting the virus or not. This sort of national emergency would go a, long way in nipping the ravaging menace of the virus in the bud and provide a safer approach towards curtailing it.”
Coordinator, Media and Publications
In response to reported statement by President Muhammadu Buhari, that former dictator, Sani Abacha, ‘stole close to $1billion’, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Saturday faulted Buhari’s submission, saying that Abacha stole far more than $1billion.
The group cited Transparency International report, which submitted that ‘Abacha may have stolen between $3bn and $5bn in public money’.
Recall that Buhari had in his article titled “Post-Coronavirus, Africa’s Manufacturing Moment”, published on Newsweek.com, said, “Nigeria can now move forward with road, rail and power station construction in part, under own resources-thanks to close to a billion dollars of funds stolen from the people of Nigeria under a previous, undemocratic junta in the 1990s that have now been returned to our country from the U.S., U.K. and Switzerland.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has applauded the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for the retrieval and handing back to the management of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), 17 publicly owned vehicles that were carted away by former officials of the agency.
In responding to the development, the Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran stated in a press release that: “This is a fall-out of what damage Corruption has done to the psyche of many of our Civil Servants and those in authority in Nigeria. The impression is always given that ‘whatever belongs to government belongs to nobody’ and so could be stolen without fear for any consequences. The other time, it was a retired Police top brass that was reported to have willfully taken away more than 15 cars after leaving service. This was at a time the same Police force was finding it so difficult to police the country effectively due to lack of adequate patrol vehicles. Without mincing words, this is a clear act of corruption and abuse of office with impunity”.
“We therefore concur with Engineer Salisu Daura- the Director of Engineering services that represented FAAN’s Managing Director at the hand over occasion for the recovered vehicles- for expressing delight at the partnership between the agency and the ICPC. We also support his request that the anti-graft agency should intensify efforts at recovering more vehicles that have been previously carted away by former officials of (FAAN)”.
The Executive Chairman of the Centre therefore concludes: “From all of this, one could easily deduce that beyond the initial 17 vehicles of different brands taken away and recovered by ICPC, numerous other vehicles have been carted away by serving and retired officials of the agency. We therefore call for proper arraignment, prosecution and trial of the erring ex-officials to serve as a deterrent and also positively change the attitude of public employees to public property within and outside service.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has condemned the hijacking of foreign scholarships meant for brilliant young Nigerians by senior officials at the Federal Ministry of Transport. The scholarship which was provided by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), was meant to train gifted young Nigerians in railways engineering. Although the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Mr. Sabiu Zakari later issued a statement denying the availability of the scholarship, there is evidence to suggest that such denial holds no water.
In a Press Release issued by the Centre on Monday, the Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran, stated: “Our position is always that any act of dishonesty, either by an individual or an organization is Corruption and would always have deleterious and debilitating effects on society as a whole. From available evidence, President Buhari’s Administration is desirous of resuscitating our railways system just as successive governments in Nigeria have engaged the Chinese experts in this regard for decades”.
“We are equally aware that one of such projects is to have a double-track standard gauge railway track from Lagos to Kano. This led to the CCECC approaching the transportation Ministry, informing it of its plan to sponsor a number of brilliant young and qualified Nigerians to study for bachelor’s degrees in railway engineering fully funded by the company so as to have a generation of qualified personnel for maintenance of the railway infrastructure”.
“It is therefore preposterous and primitive for senior officials of the ministry to willfully corner these scholarship offers for only the children of the high and mighty, as this is capable of encouraging mediocrity and disillusionment in the eyes of more qualified Nigerian youths being shortchanged. Such opportunities and scholarship are meant to be publicly advertised on both the print and electronic media’s while also ensuring that there is enough time for qualified candidates to apply. This odious behaviour clearly negates the fight against corruption of President Buhari’s government”.
“We therefore join other Nigerians in the call for the government and other relevant agencies to intervene and encourage openness and transparency to guide the scholarship exercise while measures are taken to guarantee that the beneficiaries would not only make maximum opportunities of this window, but that whatever knowledge and expertise garnered, are eventually converted to the overall benefit of the nation. It is thus imperative to call for the requisite deterrents to those who are found guilty of these selfish and greedy crimes after diligent investigations have been carried out”.