The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for its planned investigation of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies for infractions on COVID-19 intervention funds and other procurement abuses.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Director, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “It would be recalled that the ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), disclosed this at the 2022 African Union Anti-Corruption Day in Abuja. The 2022 African Union Anti-Corruption Day has as theme “Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of COVID-19 Funds”. The ICPC boss stated in his remarks that the commission had observed discrepancies and infractions in the procurement and payments made by some ministries and agencies after the release and appropriate disbursement of COVID-19 funds.”
The commission, he added, also observed that in some instances the distribution of relief materials or palliatives was chaotic, disorderly and uncoordinated. He also said, “Some implicated MDAs refused the monitoring team access to their records thereby impeding the successful inquiry into their activities. These MDAs are flagged and will be investigated for breaches and infractions of the law and COVID-19 intervention funds guidelines and other procurement abuses. Reports, according to the ICPC chairman, also showed selective distribution, favouritism, nepotism and other biases in the allocation and distribution of relief material or palliatives as well as the high jacking of palliatives by political actors, their proxies, cronies, and affiliates.
“During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, CACOL had earlier called on relevant anti-graft agencies to probe the intervention funds disbursed to various government agencies and MDAs. We all know that Nigeria was among the first set of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to identify COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases and implemented strict measures to contain the spread of the virus. The Government’s policy measures such as travel restrictions, lockdowns, and restrictions on economic and social activities, aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, negatively affected the livelihoods and food security of most Nigerians especially those occupying the lower and middle-class strata.”
The anti-graft czar added, “Alleviating the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis is vital for preventing poverty from deepening and increasing in Nigeria; before the crisis, approximately 4 in 10 Nigerians were living below the poverty line, and millions more were living just above the poverty line, making them vulnerable to falling back into poverty when shocks occur. Hence, it was so strange to notice the abysmal strategies adopted by these agencies of government in the distribution of palliatives and spending of the intervention fund that was meant to cushion the negative effects of the pandemic on Nigerians. We cannot forget in a hurry the rate of hoarding and diversion of palliatives that later led to the raids by famished and already impoverished people in different parts of the country of facilities or locations warehousing palliatives. Some of such also created widespread violence.”
“We at CACOL are happy that the ICPC is beaming its searchlight on these erring agencies now, though it is coming a bit late but it is better late than never. We hope the anti-graft agency would carry out a thorough investigation of the agencies concerned and if found wanting, the officials involved should be made to face the full wrath of the law.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL has condemned in strong terms the attack by some assailants on the residence of the Labour Party Candidate for the July 16 Osun governorship poll, Mr. Lasun Yusuf, located in Ilobu, Osun State.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Director of Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “We received the sad news of the attack of the residence of the Labour Party Candidate for the July 16 Osun governorship poll, Mr. Lasun Yusuf with great shock. It would be recalled that some yet-to-be-identified people bearing arms have reportedly attacked the residence of the Labour Party candidate for the July 16 Osun governorship poll, Mr. Lasun Yusuf, located in Ilobu, Osun State. It was reported that, when the attackers could not gain entrance into the building, they fired shots from outside the premises, aiming at the upper floor of the storey building where bedrooms are, and shattered the aluminum windows.
In as much as the true intent of the assailants is not yet known, it will not be wrong to think that the attack may be politically motivated. The Lasun Yusuf that we know doesn’t appear to us as a violent person who can be a threat to the wellbeing of any other candidate. He has been in the national assembly for years and we didn’t hear any report of him attacking anybody physically or even verbally. So he is not a threat to anybody’s welfare, so whoever carried out the attack doesn’t seem to mean well for the good people of Osun state and its politics.
“We have a very strong view that politics should be a family game whereby all the contestants will see themselves as one another’s keeper. We also believe that the candidates contesting the gubernatorial elections in the state should compete under a peaceful atmosphere devoid of violent attack at one another. We believed that it should be a contest of intellect and capacity to deliver, not a capacity to foment trouble since what they are competing to do is governance not war”.
The Chairman further remarked, “Whoever wins the forthcoming election still remains a citizen of Osun state and the same applies to whoever loses and they should cooperate in developing the state rather than engaging in any form of violent attack”.
“We are still amazed at the manner of political desperation that could warrant this kind of attack on the residence of one of the gubernatorial candidates in Osun state. We hereby express optimism that the Police will rise to the occasion by investigating this case and bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to book and hope such elements would desist from their evil ways before they inevitably meet with their waterloo.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has reacted to the recent resignation of Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad over ill health.
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, on behalf of the Centre’s Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “The recent report about the resignation of the 17th Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad is very laudable. First and foremost, we would like to commend the courage of the outgone Chief Justice of Nigeria for taking a bold step that is not too common in this part of the world. Although he resigned due to ill health, we hope other public office holders will take a cue from this action of the Ex CJN by quitting at the right time, especially when they have been alleged to commit some official infractions or what is popularly referred to as gross misconduct”.
It should be recalled that, Muhammad’s resignation followed quickly on the heels of the allegations of mismanagement of funds leveled against him by 14 justices of the Supreme Court. It was reported that the justices of the apex court, in a joint petition, accused the Ex CJN of poor welfare, among other ill-treatment being meted out to them. In the leaked petition, the 14 justices accused the CJN of abandoning his responsibilities and diverting funds meant for the running of the Supreme Court. This is an unprecedented development in Nigeria’s judicial history and it will go down in history as one of the highlights of the tenure of the outgone CJN. But the man in the eye of the storm Justice Muhammad in a statement by his aide, titled, ‘Re: State Of Affairs In The Supreme Court And Demand By Justices Of The Supreme Court’, denied the allegations.
“We at CACOL would like to state expressly that all the allegations leveled against the outgone CJN should be thoroughly investigated by the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC), the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the various anti-corruption agencies in the country, swift prosecution should as well follow and he should be punished if found guilty of any of the allegations so as to deter others”.
The CACOL Boss added, “We would also like to congratulate Justice Olukayode Ariwoola on his appointment as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria. We urge him to live above board and write his name in gold by carrying out extensive reforms in the judiciary that will facilitate speedy dispensation of justice like we have in other climes while carrying along other supreme court Justices”.
Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL
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The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has reacted to the recent raid of an Abuja property belonging to a military contractor for alleged money laundering by officials of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, on behalf of the Centre’s Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted, “The recent report about the raid on an Abuja property, is one that is bound to generate a measure of public comments and interests, due primarily to the kind of society we have inadvertently turned Nigeria into overtime and because it is coming at a time like this when the game of politics is being played all over the country.
However, crime has no other name, especially when it bothers on financial impropriety which we all agree is single handedly responsible for the downward socioeconomic situation of things we are facing today, as a country. This is why we need to commend the sense of responsibility, promptness and due diligence with which the ICPC responded to this case.
Although the Commission has come out to say the investigation is still ongoing, facts available for the time being indicate that the property is owned by the owner of K Salam Construction Company, a military contractor. From the raid, the Commission recovered money and other items from the property namely: N175,706,500; $220,965; G-Wagon; 2022 editions of BMW and Mercedes Benz cars; customized mobile phones; several designer wrist watches, including three Rolexes, and some property documents. Operatives of the Commission also arrested the Managing Director of K Salam Construction Company Nigeria Limited, Mr. Kabiru Sallau.
“We at CACOL would like to implore the anti-graft agency to intensify its investigation into the case involving this military contractor and come out to tell the Nigerian populace the gospel truth about it. We would like to know if truly the company is associated with anyone currently serving or who has served in government. It is a known fact that impunity and the ability to engage in crime without being punished are largely responsible for the current sorry state the nation has found itself. We believe that it is the moral duty of all Nigerians to be well informed and acquainted in cases such as this. We have always posited that the issue of corruption is too weighty to be swept under the carpet, irrespective of whose ox is gored”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has condemned the unprovoked attack and killing of innocent worshippers at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State on Sunday the 5th of June, 2022.
In a release signed by the organization’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of the organization’s Chairman, Comrade Debo Adeniran he noted that “It would be recalled that some gunmen attacked worshippers of St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State on Sunday maiming and killing scores of them in the process.”
The attack of these innocent worshippers is senseless, barbaric, condemnable, unacceptable and uncalled for. It is another sad tale of the security situation in the country. It is so unfortunate that the security situation in the country has degenerated to an abysmal low level making all efforts aimed at restoring the lost glory of the security situation to be counterproductive.
“We were particularly saddened by the report that the two Police Divisions in Owo town and Area Command have no official patrol van to get to the scene of the crime despite having almost 50 men standby at the ACPOL, Owo. This is very sad going by the annual budgetary allocation to Security year in year out.”
“We at CACOL would like to call on the government to find a lasting solution to the menace of insecurity in the country by having a proactive approach which will prevent further atrocities of this nature. Since the security of lives and properties is the responsibility of the government, the government of the day should also look into the possibility of completely overhauling the security architecture of the country. We would also use this medium to call on the security agencies to use all legal means to bring the perpetrators of this dastardly act to book”.
We also express our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, the Catholic Church, the government and the people of Ondo State over the incident.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has thrown its weight behind the calls for probe into the activities of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, implementing agency of the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, recommended cleanup of oil polluted Ogoni land, Rivers State.
In a press release issued by the organization’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of Mr. Debo Adeniran, CACOL’s Chairman, he noted, “It would be recalled that Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP, recently called on the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, a federal government agency saddled with the task of cleaning up the polluted Ogoni environment to account for a whopping sum of $800million fund meant for the exercise.
President of MOSOP, Fegalo Nsuke made the call in Port Harcourt, Rivers state capital on Thursday to mark the six years anniversary of the official flag-off of the Ogoni cleanup programme by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at Bodo on June 2, 2016, said there is little or nothing done so far. Nsuke was quoted as saying “Not much has been achieved but corruption, mismanagement and embezzlement. HYPREP has received over $800 million and additional N6 billion for water supplies. What we have seen is bribery and looting of the cleanup funds”.
The CACOL Boss hinted “The Ogoniland area of southern Nigeria is one of the most polluted places on Earth. The crops are burnt to a cinder, ash and tar smother the land and the wells are polluted with oil, making the water totally undrinkable. Entire communities have suffered as their way of life has been destroyed by the oil industry and pollution has become the norm in the Community”.
“The effect of pollution on the Nigerian delta has been great. As a result of oil spills and industrial waste dumped into the Niger River Delta, fishing as a means of supplying food for the tribe is no longer an option because very few fish remain in the river. The groundwater is contaminated and is not safe for drinking. The most immediate threat to Ogoni people is oils spills, which have damaged their land dramatically. At least one hundred pumping stations and pipelines crisscross Ogoniland. The pipelines run over farm land and through villages; leaks and spills are a common occurrence. The UN says it will take 30 years of effort to clean up the mess. Amnesty International accuses the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell of turning a blind eye to or even helping the military’s use of rape, torture and unlawful killings amid protests against pollution and poverty back in the 1990s”.
It was a huge relief when the federal Government decided to implement the United Nations Environmental Programme, UNEP, recommended cleanup of oil polluted Ogoni land by the establishment of the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project HYPREP under the Federal Ministry of Environment to achieve the under listed functions in Ogoniland and other impacted communities:
investigate, map and evaluate hydrocarbon polluted communities and sites in Nigeria referred to it by the National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency (NOSDRA) or the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and make recommendations to the Federal government.
implement the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Report on Environmental Restoration of Ogoniland (UNEP Report) as directed by the HYPREP Governing Council.
Initiate, and develop work programmes aimed at restoring all hydrocarbon impacted communities and sites referred to HYPREP
Undertake a comprehensive assessment and mapping of all environmental issues associated with hydrocarbon pollution, in collaboration with NOSDRA
Provide guidance data to undertake remediation of contaminated soil and ground water in Ogoniland and such other impacted communities as may be referred to it
Technically evaluate alternative technologies to be employed to undertake remediation of contaminated soil and ground water
Make recommendations for responding to future environmental contamination from hydrocarbons
Ensure full environmental recovery and restoration of Ogoni ecosystem services for Ogoni people and other impacted communities.
It is so unfortunate that till now the performance of HYPREP in Ogoniland is nothing to write home about. The agency has not lived up to expectations. The situation in the Community has not improved even with the huge financial resources committed to the agency.
The facts are not just embarrassing but criminally so. How could we have discovered crude oil in Olobiri since 1955, yet, we are left behind by other nations especially the Arabian countries that were blessed with the resources years after us? How can we be proud of our record as the sixth oil producing country in OPEC yet the people of the oil rich communities wallow in abject poverty and deprivation worsened by a very inhuman state of environmental degradation?
We at CACOL believe that it is a tragic narration on our nation, Nigeria that despite the huge resources allocated for projects, when it comes to execution of the project, it becomes a sad story. We want to call on the management of HYPREP to account for all the money collected so far and the positive impact they have made in Ogoniland, if any. As an Agency of government, they must respond to the yearnings of the people of Ogoniland and justify the huge resources they have collected.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for arresting the former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’Aziz Yari, as part of investigations into the alleged N84bn fraud involving the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director for Administration and Programmes, Mr. Tola Oresanwo, on behalf of Mr. Debo Adeniran, the Chairman of the Centre, he stated, “It would be recalled that The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested a former Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul’Aziz Yari, as part of investigations into the N84bn fraud involving the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris. We should also not forget in a hurry that sometime last year, The ICPC secured from The Federal High Court, Abuja, a final forfeiture order of over $669,000 in two bank accounts linked to Abdulaziz Yari”.
The anti-graft agency had alleged that the funds were proceeds of unlawful activity. It accused Mr. Yari of illegally taking the money from the state’s coffers while he was governor. According to the commission, the victim of the alleged crime is the Zamfara government and by extension the Federal Government of Nigeria and innocent taxpayers which include judges of courts across Nigeria. It alleged that the former governor used the two companies to launder money in the state account.
From all indications, we have noticed that corruption in the country is like a nexus whereby an individual connives with several others to loot the treasury. The recent revelation linking the Ex-Governor of Zamfara State to the suspended Accountant General is a pointer to this fact.
“The humungous amount of money involved in this recent case is alarming. ASUU is on strike, our roads are bad, the health care system is nothing to write home about, the security infrastructures in the country is appalling, no constant electricity, no job for the common man on the street yet some people are so greedy and corrupt to the point of stealing and amassing ill-gotten wealth that their unborn children cannot even exhaust. We are particularly perturbed that the rate of corruption, looting and ‘thievery’ under this regime has surpassed that of the former regimes”.
In our earlier press release dated 24th September, 2020, we called on anti-corruption agencies to immediately commence necessary investigation of former governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari for alleged unlawful diversion of a whooping sum of N37.4 billion naira, being a refund from the federal government for the funds used by the former administration in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of 14 federal roads in the state.
“We at CACOL, therefore, commend the EFCC for its meticulous and diligent investigation of this high-brow corruption issue. We are
The Head of CACOL added, “Inasmuch as we want to commend The EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria for the good jpb they are doing, we also believe that there is an urgent need to look into preventive measures than curative. It will be far better if we can devise checks and balances that will prevent reoccurrence of ugly and shameful situations like this.
Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has challenged the lawmaker representing Anambra-North senatorial district, Stella Oduah to resign if she cannot respond to the allegation of perjury leveled against her.
CACOL, in a statement signed by the group’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of its Chairman, Debo Adeniran said, “It is no longer news that Stella Oduah did not complete the mandatory National Youth Service. In a letter by the Director-General of the NYSC which was signed on his behalf by the Director, Press and Public Relations, Eddy Megwa, the agency said Oduah commenced her NYSC programme in 1982 but absconded. The letter was in response to an inquiry by a group known as the Concerned Anambra North PDP Stakeholders.
It was reported that in her CF001 forms submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission in 2019, Oduah claimed that she completed her NYSC but her certificate was missing along with other credentials. An affidavit she deposed to read in part, “Sometime in 2010 while in transit from Akili Ozizor in Ogbaru local government area to Abuja, I discovered that some of my personal belongings were missing. “The missing documents are the originals of my West African School Certificate of 1978 from Zixon Secondary School Ozubulu, First School Leaving Certificate from St. John Odoakpu Onitsha; Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Certificate 1982 from St. Paul’s College Lawrence Virginia USA; National Youth Service Corps certificate 1983, national identity card, United States of America Social Security card with numbers in it.”
If she absconded from service where on earth did she see the NYSC certificate she claimed and swore on oath that is missing? Did she print the certificate by herself? Did she lie on oath? This even to a layman is known as perjury.
The CACOL Head further stated that, “What should not be encouraged, under any guise, is a reign of impunity as the country steers towards consolidation of its democratic culture. This scandal in which Mrs Stella Oduah is currently enmeshed is another major, monumental and massive disgrace not only to the hallowed chamber of the Senate where she is currently representing her constituency but to the country at large.
“It is saddening to note that it’s fast becoming a norm for public office holders and representatives of the people to parade fake credentials and with brazen arrogance and confidence still go ahead to swear on oath with bogus credentials in their possession. Although, we know that a Federal High Court had already ruled that possessing an NYSC certificate was not a condition for holding public office but what happened in a situation whereby the person lied on oath”.
“We at CACOL hereby call on the leadership of the People’s Democratic Party, headed by Senator Iyorchia Ayu, to immediately disqualify Oduah who has been screened to contest in the primary from contesting”.
“We also want to implore our election monitoring body, INEC, to intensify the process of screening political aspirants before they are cleared to contest elections. A joint and collaborative effort of all the security agencies would have helped to nip a national embarrassment like this in the bud”.
“Our current situation as a nation demands that public officers and representatives of the people should be seen to be above board and not people who are inclined to crime. It is in this regard that we, therefore, call on the lawmaker representing Anambra-North senatorial district, Stella Oduah to resign with immediate effect and we are also calling on the anti-graft agencies to start her prosecution without further delay”.
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has hailed the arrest of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh for alleged fraud related offences.
In a release issued by CACOL’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, on behalf of Mr. Debo Adeniran, the Chairman of the Centre, he stated, “The arrest of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh for alleged fraud related offences is a welcome development”.
It would be recalled that Mr Ahmed Idris, was alleged to have diverted and laundered 80 billion Naira. According to EFCC, verified intelligence reports showed that Idris raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates. It was also stated that the funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and in Abuja. On her part, the former speaker, Patricia Etteh was said to have received N130m through her personal account from Phil Jin Project Limited, a firm which was awarded a N240m contract by the NDDC in 2011. Etteh who is neither a director nor the contractor, but investigation revealed that she was paid a total amount of N130 million by the contractor.
“It is very unfortunate that someone like the Accountant-General of the Federation can betray the trust reposed in him by the Nigerian state, through the very system that trained and supported him till he attained the pinnacle of his professional calling. It is more saddening to note that an exalted office he occupied is being looked upon by many upcoming Accountants and one would have thought he would be more conscientious and scrupulous in his official dealings knowing fully well that many of the younger generation are looking up to him as mentor. The money siphoned by the Accountant-General would have made considerable impact in settling the current impasse being experienced in our tertiary education system which has kept our children at home for some months now”
“For the Ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives, her case should serve as a lesson for those occupying various public offices today. They should know that they may be called upon to give account of their stewardship while in office many years after leaving the office.”
“We at CACOL, therefore, commend the EFCC for taking actions against these two people. This is a very laudable and cheering development, considering the multiplier and damaging effects of every strand of corruption perpetrated by public officials whom the country reposed so much trust in and the betrayal they used in repaying such trust. We hope the Anti-graft agency will not tarry in prosecuting them.”
The Head of CACOL added, “The EFCC and other anti-Corruption agencies in Nigeria deserve the commendation and appreciation of all patriotic Nigerians for their resoluteness and doggedness in stamping out corruption from our land. The agencies deserve our cooperation to make them succeed in their mission of bequeathing a more sanitized and corruption-free social environment to all.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has faulted the Council of States’ decision to grant state pardon to the former Governor of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye and ex-Governor Jolly Nyame of Taraba State, who were both imprisoned for stealing public funds entrusted in their care to the tune of N1.16bn and N1.6bn respectively and other sundry offences bordering on corruption.
The recent announcement by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, that the Council of States has endorsed the granting of clemency, pardon and prerogative of mercy to 159 out of 162 applications presented to it for consideration among whom are the former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame, and former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, came as a surprise to us. We have always used these two convicted ex-Governors as a reference point for the seriousness of this administration’s war against corruption but since they have now been left off the hook, the whole anti-corruption stance of this administration has been messed up, botched and turned into a huge joke.
We are also conversant with the recent corruption cases that were determined by various courts of competent jurisdiction whose judgments we find amusing considering the humongous amount of money involved and the punishments imposed on these offenders. In some cases, part of the money they were accused of stealing was returned to them while some were handed minimum jail terms even with the option of fines.
We can mention the case of John Yakubu, a former Federal Director of Pensions, who was sentenced to six years imprisonment. Yakubu was imprisoned in 2018 by the Abuja Court of Appeal for defrauding the Federal Government of N22.9bn Police Pension Fund. Recently, The Supreme Court of Nigeria upheld the 2018 decision of the Court of Appeal which sentenced him and also ordered him to refund N22.9bn to the Federal Government. Going by the huge amount of money involved in this case we would have thought he would bag a longer jail term but he was lucky to bag just six years.
The case of Abdulrasheed Maina, a former chairperson of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), is another interesting one. The Federal High Court in Abuja sentenced Maina, to eight years’ imprisonment for money laundering offences involving N2billion in pension funds. The judge, Okon Abang, jailed Mr Maina after convicting him and his company, Common Input Property and Investment Ltd, on all the 12 counts filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The judge sentenced Mr Maina to various jail terms ranging from three to eight years, which are to run concurrently. It implies that Mr Maina will spend the longest sentence which is eight years in jail. Justice Abang stressed that though the law made provision for a maximum sentence of 14 years, he said he was moved by Maina’s plea for mercy. This is another case of a criminal that deserves maximum sentencing but was lucky to bag eight years.
The case involving Andrew Yakubu, a former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is another one that must be mentioned. The Federal High Court in Abuja, recently discharged and acquitted Andrew Yakubu of fraud relating to $9.8 million seized from his home in 2017. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), acting on a tip-off in 2017, stormed Mr Yakubu’s residence at the Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna State and found $9,772, 800 and £74,000 in a safe.
The commission arraigned him before Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on March 16, 2017, on six counts of money laundering and other offences. The trial court struck out two of the counts. Dissatisfied with the refusal of the court to dismiss all the counts, Mr Yakubu had further appealed at the Court of Appeal. But the Court of Appeal, ruling on a no-case submission filed by the former NNPC boss, struck down the charges to counts 3 and 4, which border on money laundering offences.
The judge agreed with Mr Yakubu’s defence that the funds were received as gifts in aggregate form and not as a “whole” that could have offended the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2011. Mr Mohammed dismissed the EFCC’s argument that the funds were proceeds of crime because they did not go through a financial institution. As a result, the judge ordered the immediate refund of the confiscated sum of $9,772, 800 and £74, 000 to Mr Yakubu. Although, this case may have been lost by the EFCC due to lack of diligent prosecution, the trajectory of most of the high profile corruption cases shows that they are either lost at the courts, or the accused bagging minimum sentencing, lost due to technicalities or granted state pardon even after being found guilty and convicted.
All these are very sad developments for the anti-corruption war, our nation cannot make progress with situations like these. If indeed the Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy saddled with the responsibility of visiting the country’s correctional facilities and making recommendations to the President on the exercise of his power of mercy and compassion, to either grant pardon to those that had been convicted, clemency, or some other form of concessions by way of reduction in sentence and term recommended these sets of corrupt politicians for state pardon, we would have expected the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption (PACAC) established in August 2015, with the mandate to promote the reform agenda of the government on the anti-corruption effort, and to advise the present administration in the prosecution of the war against corruption, to counter that move and advise the president against such move.
Prior to this, we were thinking that the sentencing of Cecilia Ibru, Lucky Igbinedion, Tafa Balogun and the rest of them were too little and a mere slap on the wrist, the present one is like a reward for committing corruption crime and a disincentive for the fight against corruption by civil society organizations who are using their hard earned personal money to struggle to expose corruption, report corruption and advocate for the prosecution of corrupt elements and after that is done, somebody somewhere will just recommend them for forgiveness and they would be told to “go and sin no more”. That means that others that are presently serving different jail terms should also be looking forward to state pardon. It is even better for the federal government to throw open the gates of the Correctional Centres because there is no point in detaining petty thieves while mega thieves are being left off the hook. Moreover, these are people that will go to the field, contest elections and win since they already have the wherewithal to buy their way through and once somebody is corrupt, he’s always corrupt and will want to corrupt anything and anybody s/he may come across. It is disservice to the socio-political development of the country. As CACOL, our main concern remains a total commitment and unrepentant avowal to find, name, nail, shame and shun corrupt leaders anywhere, everywhere! Merciless corruption criminals don’t deserve states’ mercy. Anyone who shows mercy to confirmed criminals is complicit in criminality. Whoever is good enough to commit crimes must be good enough to serve the term.