​Neo-Biafra: Of Sense And Nonsense By Louis Odion

Just when the rest of the nation on Wednesday began a postmortem of the Biafra Day celebration following media reports of “total compliance” in Igbo land of a sit-at-home-order by IPOB/MASSOB, the following are excerpts from the riposte by one Ken Henshaw, obviously from the South-South, trended on social media:
“I think the current generation of ‘Biafrans’ are the most (unprintable) so far. How dare you sit in your home or offices and draw your Biafra map and include places like Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom etc as part of of your empire? Did you consult them? Did you seek their opinions?

“You are forcing people to join a country whose commander-in-chief you have already anointed – Nnamdi Kanu; whose currency you have already decided – Biafran Pounds; whose official religion you have already adopted – Judaism; whose God you have already chosen – Chukwu Abiama?

“Do you not realize that you are doing to those people the same thing you accuse the British and Nigeria of doing to you?”

With this, Henshaw no doubt reopens the untold stories of counter-agitation within the Biafran enclave for the 30 months it lasted. Stories passed down by surviving older generations of co-opted minorities in present-day South-South hardly suggest the new lords of Biafra then were any better than the feudal overlords they were running away from the so-called rickety wedlock Lord Frederick Lugard had cobbled together in 1914 in terms of the way they related with non-Igbo conscripted into the rebellion against the Nigerian state.

As legitimate as Henshaw’s observations of the neo-Biafran agitation may sound, there is no denying that Biafra as an idea lives. With major streets deserted across the South-East out of civil disobedience and the Igbo community in the diaspora reportedly staging marches in key countries across the world, it is evident that attempts by the Nigerian establishment over the past half century to exorcise its spirit have failed woefully.

This official failing, in turn, speaks directly to a more dire frailty: collective failure of the estimated 386 ethnic nationalities to make a nation of the contraption Lugard bequeathed. Rather, what we continue to see is the pathetic self-canceling struggle of serpents and scorpions trapped in a squalid basket.

But forget the saber-rattling by the exuberant IPOB ideologues raising hell on the airwaves. If we are observant, we would recognize that the cry of Biafra today is only the formula of the Igbo elite to protest being schemed out of Nigeria’s power equation in continuation of what has become a rat race for bargain, control and dominion.

Beneath this hell-raising would appear some cold calculations. It seems being perceived in the “land of the rising sun” that the momentum for Obasanjo’s political coronation in 1999 was made irreversible by sustained resistance by Yoruba intelligentsia after June 12 coupled with OPC’s guttural brinkmanship. So much that, for the first time in Nigeria’s political history, the two main political parties were tele-guided by the retreating military oligarchy to field Yoruba candidates in the presidential contest of 1999.

Such mindset also assumes that if not for the sustained pipeline bombings and other calculated acts of economic sabotage by Niger Delta militants during the Obasanjo administration, an Ijaw would not have been “planted” as Yar’Adua’s running-mate in 2007 in what, in hindsight, would now appear a complex chess game to sneak in a South-South minority as a substantive president on May 5, 2010.

The neo-Biafrans also seem to reckon too that Buhari’s ascendancy in 2015 was substantially aided, abetted and made inevitable by Boko Haram’s genocidal insurrection in parts of the North once a Southern Christian minority was declared winner of the 2011 presidential election.

So, they now seem to have concluded that without raising hell or threatening to levy war, no one will give Igbo their dues in the bazaar Nigeria has always been. It explains the various mutations of the Biafran franchise since the return of democracy 18 years ago. First was Ralph Nwazurike’s MASSOB during the Obasanjo years with the beatification of Emeka Ojukwu, even while still alive, and merchandizing Biafran memorabilia on the side. APGA, as a political party, would tap into the same emotion.

Then, enter the social media-savvy Daniel Kanu-led IPOB with far more thunderous words and apocalyptic pronouncements.

But it must be recognized that the neo-Biafran cry attained the present crescendo only after the winner-takes-all culture instituted by Buhari upon ascending power two years ago. While the Igbo were prospering under Goodluck Jonathan on account of key political appointments and patronage, we never saw this sort of scare-mongering; the separatist rhetoric was at best muffled then.

Truth be told, this is a dangerous mentality to cultivate in the context of genuine nation-building. History already teaches us that no durable nation ever germinates from such make-shift arrangement that seems to reward only the biggest bully. The first condition is to create a climate of mutual respect and incentives for all to realize their full potentials.

That is why I think the colloquium held in Abuja on May 25 to mark Biafra’s 50th anniversary was significant indeed. That such a talk shop held at all and drew a quality audience including no less a personage than the Acting President is very unprecedented in history. It should be seen as official shift from living in denial. Once upon a time, such idea would have been unthinkable, taken as an affront to the “constituted authorities” in Abuja. Once the news broke, the security establishment would immediately have taken steps to abort it.

In this regard, I think we are making progress.

But the real challenge is to institute a culture that gives every section of the country a sense of belonging. Speaking that day, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, I believe, used the right words by sounding conciliatory and harping on the sentiment that we are “greater together than apart.”

Truly, nationhood is a shared commitment. Otherwise, it is a bondage fated to break some day.

But, words remain what they are: cheap. Indeed, while the erudite professor of law with demonstrable progressive credentials was pontificating that day, genuine patriots truly committed to national reconciliation and integration must have wished the voice was Buhari’s. Were Osinbajo’s boss in his shoes on the dais that day at the iconic Yar’Adua Centre, it is very doubtful if he, judging by the maximalist tendencies he has exhibited since assuming power in 2015, would have spoken in the same conciliatory tone or evince a disposition to engage those in the cold.

If the dominant feeling in South-East and South-South today is that of alienation, the exclusionist governance model Buhari has pursued with zealotry is largely to be blamed.

Indeed, the challenge today, as always, is to have a leader who can look beyond the narrow prism of the voting pattern in the last election, rise above pettiness and give every section of the country a sense of belonging. In case Buhari does not know, he needs to be told that nation-building is not helped when a leader goes ahead to fill all key national positions with only people from his locality.

To be fair, Buhari is not a pioneer here. He could only be accused of improving on the existing records of political greed and nepotism. Under Jonathan, it was Ijaw triumphalism we witnessed, thus putting to shame all those who earlier championed the crusade that he be declared acting president early in 2010 in the name of natural justice once it increasingly became clear that Umar Yar’Adua would not make it back to Aso Rock from his sick bay in Saudi Arabia. Jonathan, in turn, only chose to break the record of Yar’Adua who, despite his impressive academic standing, seemed detained all the way by the little god of the province. When he still had the presence of mind, his inner circle were drawn largely from a small district in Katsina. And as pericarditis – a rare medical condition – began to sap the last drops of vitality from his anatomy, his executive staff was summarily hijacked by a tiny cabal from the same provincial stock.

But to birth a more cohesive Nigeria is not the only duty of a broad-minded leader. Patriotism should oblige citizens themselves to stand and speak against injustice wherever it occurs regardless of ethnicity or faith. Only this could explain why when self-styled military president Ibrahim Babangida mindlessly annulled June 12 won MKO Abiola, the push for its revalidation largely became mostly a Yoruba project eventually.

Today, on a milder scale, we are witnessing a reenactment of the same civic complicity in the continued public silence, in the loss of the sense of national outrage, over the indefinite incarceration of the Shiite leader despite repeated court orders.

But nationhood is not an abstract construct. One of the key pillars is social justice.

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NNAMDI KANU, BIAFRA AND KATE HENSHAW’S FALSE PREMISE BY FEMI FANI KAYODE


I think the current generation of ‘Biafrans’ are the most funny people I hve ever seen.

How dare you sit in your home or offices and draw your Biafra map and include places like Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, etc as part of your empire? Did you consult them? Did you seek their opinions? You are forcing people to join a country whose commander in chief you have already anointed- Nnamdi Kanu; whose currency you have already decided- Biafra Pounds; whose official religion you have already adopted- Judaism; whose God you have already chosen- Chukwu Abiama? Do you not realize that you are doing to those people the same thing you accuse the British and Nigeria of doing to you? For carving my state into your ‘Biafra’ and renaming it without my permission and consultation, I have a moral duty to stand against you with everything I have. I am not standing against you because I do not want your freedom; I stand against you because I love mine too. I don’t stand against you because you don’t have a right to your country; I stand against you because I have the same right. I stand against you because your map is an insult to me and my freedom to choose were I belong. Be warned!”

In a short contribution titled “Biafra Without Our Consent?” which appears to have gone viral on social media, a social commentator wrote as follows:

“I think the current generation of ‘Biafrans’ are the most funny people I hve ever seen.

How dare you sit in your home or offices and draw your Biafra map and include places like Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, etc as part of your empire? Did you consult them? Did you seek their opinions? You are forcing people to join a country whose commander in chief you have already anointed- Nnamdi Kanu; whose currency you have already decided- Biafra Pounds; whose official religion you have already adopted- Judaism; whose God you have already chosen- Chukwu Abiama? Do you not realize that you are doing to those people the same thing you accuse the British and Nigeria of doing to you? For carving my state into your ‘Biafra’ and renaming it without my permission and consultation, I have a moral duty to stand against you with everything I have. I am not standing against you because I do not want your freedom; I stand against you because I love mine too. I don’t stand against you because you don’t have a right to your country; I stand against you because I have the same right. I stand against you because your map is an insult to me and my freedom to choose were I belong. Be warned!”

This commentator who I shall refer to as Miss X and those that think like her are being disingenious and unduly hostile to Nnamdi Kanu and the concept and spirit of Biafra.

She has made a point that appears to be valid but that point is based on a false premise. That premise is that the southern minorities would be compelled or obliged to be part of Biafra without their consent. This is false. It is not true.

The truth is that each of the bordering ethnic nationalities, and even the Igbo themselves, must and will have their own referendum before going anywhere. It is entirely up to them what they do and where they go.

They cannot and will not be forced to go with Biafra if they choose not to do so. And neither can they be forced to remain in Nigeria if they choose to leave.

Everything that is done must and will be based on the free and fair expression of the will of the people.

That is the basic point that needs to be grasped and clearly understood. Miss X’s fear is therefore baseless.

Yet we cannot leave it there. We must consider the wider issues that her concerns have raised. We must learn to be clear-headed and strategic in our thinking and actions. We must know what we wish to achieve and we must learn from history.

The cost of petty bickering, division, undue rivalry, pettiness and age-old suspicions amongst the southern ethnic minorities and southerners generally is extreemly high.

It has cost us virtually everything and it has stripped us naked and bare before our enemies and adversaries.

Someone is fighting for the freedom of his people and you lend your voice to rubbishing that person and that cause? That cannot be right and neither is it reasonable or fair.

The sooner that we southerners get it into our skulls that there must be unity between us the better. Without that unity we are nothing and we shall continue to fail and falter.

Yours truly has attacked and joined issues with the Igbo in a series of literary debates and articles in the past perhaps more than anyone else but now I know better.

Now I know that historical and intellectual debate is one thing and political expediency and pragmatism is another.

Now I know that we are fighting a collective cause and that we have a collective adversary and oppressor who seeks to destroy and devour us all.

Now I know that when my Igbo or southern neighbour’s house is burning, even if we are barely on speaking terms, it is in my own interest to help him to put it out before that fire spreads to mine.

Now I know that the “handshake across the Niger” that the late and great Ikemba, Colonel Emeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu, the former Head of State of Biafra, once spoke about is the only way forward.

Now I know that whether we like to admit it or not Igbo and Yoruba co-operation, understanding and unity is a fundamental pre-requisite to the freedom and emancipation of the entire south.

Now I know that the more I attack my Igbo brothers the more I weaken myself, my Yoruba people and the south generally from the incessant and relentless attacks, humiliation and indignities that we collectively receive from the ruling core Muslim Hausa-Fulani north.

Now I know that what fuels and feeds northern hegemony and subjugation more than anything else are the petty rivalries and divisions between the southern ethnic nationalities. And it has made us utterly powerless and hopelessly weak.

The end-result is that we have all been turned into pliant and cowardly slaves.

This has been the case since 1960 and it will continue into eternity if we don’t sit up, grow up and set aside our many mutual suspicions and differences.

The Biafrans are simply asking for their own country and for an affirmative referendum to give it legitimacy.

No-one can be made to join Biafra against his or her will or by force. It appears to me that this is obvious.

In any case did Miss X or her forefathers give their consent to becoming a Nigerian in 1914 when the amalglamation took place?

Where is her sense of outrage about that? Did she warn the British or the north about that and did she promise to attempt to fight them because of it?

Were we not all just herded into Nigeria like cattle at the time? Were those of us from the south not just lumped together with a north that the British described as our “poor husband” whilst we were described as their “rich wife?”

Have we not been raped, sodomised, cheated, battered and butchered by that poor husband ever since?

Have we not been turned into second class citizens and slaves in our own country? Has Miss X protested about that and has she expressed her outrage and “warned” our collective oppressors as well? Does she not feel a sense of revulsion and outrage about that? Or is her outrage and warning reserved only for her fellow southerners?

The people of Biafra are fighting for the self-determination of their own Igbo people and anyone or any other group that wishes to join them. Is that a crime?

Would you seek to deny them that right and instead join sides with their oppressors and keep them in Nigeria by the usage of state-sponsored terror, guile, deceit and tyranny?

I do not accept the notion that the Biafrans seek to compel anyone or any group of people to leave Nigeria with them if they do not wish to do so.

That would be unacceptable and it is not their intention. Unlike Nigeria, being part of or joining Biafra is not by compulsion but rather a matter of choice. And that choice can only be made in a free and fair referendum.

If you do not wish to be part of Biafra and leave Nigeria then dont join them and instead stay in Lugard’s “happy” contraption. That is your right and your prerogative.

Yet the truth is that with or without you the Biafrans will achieve their objectives and realise their dreams and aspirations as long as it is God’s will and the desire of the Igbo people.

Whatever you and your people choose to do, either to go with Biafra or stay in Nigeria, do not allow yourself to be used by the retrogressive core north, the primitive forces of oppression and the asinine peddlars of lies, ignorance and falsehood to destroy someone else’s yearning for freedom from oppression and aspiration for liberty.

I say this because such an aspiration, yearning and quest is not only noble and pure but also deeply courageous.

It is an aspiration that we should mirror and admire and not attempt to rubbish or belittle.

This is all the more so because it has been paid for by the blood and suffering of many that have been killed over the last 50 years for daring to voice it, including many young people and many children.

If Miss X’s Efik ethnic group had suffered just 10 per cent of what the Igbo have been subjected to since 1966 they would have agitated to leave Nigeria long ago or perhaps been driven into extinction by now. That is the bitter truth.

Finally let me say this: whether anyone likes it or not Nnamdi Kanu symbolises the Biafran struggle today.

He has earned it by the suffering he has endured, by the immense courage that he has displayed and by the gargantuan risks that he has taken.

He has energised his people and inspired and brought hope to millions of Igbo youth all over the world.

He has given them back their pride and self-respect which is something that no other leader has managed to do since the end of the civil war.

This is a beautiful thing and I wonder why anyone that lays claim to being enlightened or educated would attempt to besmirch or denigrate him?

Why try and demean him or discredit and belittle the views that he and his followers hold so dear?

Whether anyone likes it or not the truth is that Nnamdi Kanu speaks for millions.

And many other ethnic nationalist groups in the south and Middle Belt have precisely the same aspirations and dreams of emancipation and freedom that he espouses, enunciates, epitomises and holds so dear.

The challenge that they are faced with is that, unlike the Igbo, they have yet to produce a leader like Nnamdi Kanu that can unite and rally them together under one banner and lead them to the promised land.

It Is Time For The Nigerian Government To Let The Biafran People Go By Ola Balogun

The current antics of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the self-proclaimed leader of the illusory Biafran nation, brings to mind an often quoted remark by Karl Marx, who pointed out in reference to the 9th November 1799 coup d’etat by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in France:

“History often repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce…”

As if to illustrate this thought-provoking adage afresh, post-colonial Nigerian history, which first produced the immense tragedy of Biafra with its horrible litany of death and widespread destruction, is now going on to provide the world with a new version of Biafra that is being preached by the colorful duo of Ralph Uwazurike (MASSOB) and Nnamdi Kanu (IPOB).

In the original historical version of Biafra, the world witnessed General Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu strutting pompously across the stage of history in a crisply starched military uniform, proclaiming for all to hear that “no power in Black Africa” would ever stop Biafra from coming into being.

And now we have a fresh enactment of the Biafran tragedy, this time as farce, with Ralph Uwazurike issuing bogus ‘Aba-made’ Biafran passports to gullible youths willing to believe that an adventurer posing as a Head of State can be trusted to “actualize” the Biafran mirage, while his erstwhile employee Nnamdi Kanu has now suddenly morphed from a fire-breathing bush fighter into the self-ordained rabbi of a bizarre new Jewish religious cult.

Let us hope that this new prophet can now be left in peace to lead his fellow Biafrans to much deserved freedom from the hellish confines of the oppressive Nigerian nation.

Thankfully, the process will probably be swift, since Nnamdi Kanu apparently has very deep pockets, as well as unparalleled access to top political leaders in Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra and Abia States.

Interestingly enough, a three-page spread that was published in the “Sunday Sun” of December 12th 2015 (pages 48-51) threw some very interesting light on what Ralph Uwazurike has been up to with MASSOB, as well as on who the mysterious Nnamdi Kanu actually is.

In the interview he gave to the “Sunday Sun”, published on p. 48 in the newspaper’s edition of December 12th 2015, Ralph Uwazurike complained bitterly that Nnamdi Kanu was originally an unemployed youth whom he hired to supervise the activities of Radio Biafra in London due to the fact that Nnamdi Kanu had legitimate residence status in the United Kingdom.

If indeed Nnamdi Kanu is who Ralph Uwazurike says he is, how did he suddenly become endowed with the tremendous level of funding that appears to have been required to rent large crowds for the unruly demonstrations all over the Eastern states, as well as in Delta and Rivers States?

How was he able to fund a secret radio station within the confines of Nigeria, as well as purchase considerable quantities of sophisticated weapons in preparation for an armed uprising?

Hopefully, the answer to these and many more questions may become known when and if Nnamdi Kanu and his alleged co-conspirators are eventually put on trial.

In the meantime, fellow Nigerians and Ndigbo who have a sense of humor will probably enjoy the free cinema show of Nnamdi Kanu’s efforts to spread his new Jewish faith among the faithful that he has gathered in his father’s compound, clad in white priestly robes, and brandishing a highly symbolic fan artfully decorated with Biafran colors in a bid to demonstrate the nexus between the resurrected Biafra and the mythical Jerusalem that Donald Trump is apparently getting set to proclaim as the heavenly ordained capital of the State of Israel.

Turning now to the possible remedy that might help quell the ongoing agitation for the birth of a Biafran nation, there have been a number of calls in the recent past for some kind of “dialogue” with Nnamdi Kanu and his followers.

This kind of advice is obviously misplaced, notwithstanding the rather bizarre utterances of Bishop Kukah, who once described Nnamdi Kanu as “the most popular politician in Nigeria today”!

If there can be no “negotiation” or “dialogue” with Nnamdi Kanu and his supporters, is there any means of diffusing the present unrest, short of engaging in a shooting war with the neo-Biafran agitators?

Obviously, the best solution would be for the Federal Government to publicly announce that it is prepared to grant a Biafran homeland to all Ndigbo who wish to abandon the choice properties and flourishing business enterprises that they have acquired by dint of back-breaking labor and intense sacrifice over many decades in Lagos, Abuja, Benin, Jos, Maiduguri, etc. and return to Nnewi or wherever else they may choose to relocate to in a newly independent Biafran enclave.

Naturally, the returnees would be unable to carry buildings or other major physical assets with them, so they would be limited to whatever they might be able to fit into a few suitcases and “Ghana must go bags,” with assistance from Eze Ayodele Fayose 1, the newly crowned paramount ruler of Ihiala.

Furthermore, the new Biafran nation would be a landlocked enclave with no access to oil, since no rational indigenes of Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Bayelsa and Rivers States can be expected to associate themselves with the highly illogical caper of the newly proclaimed Biafran nation, a factor that happens to have been one of the underlying causes of the collapse of the original Biafra under the leadership of the late Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.

(It would appear that Ralph Uwazurike, Nnamdi Kanu and the bulk of their hard-core followers are apparently too young to be aware of the deep-rooted reasons for the disastrous collapse of the original Biafra!)

Furthermore, once they have returned to Arochwukwu, Umuahia Ibeku, Aba-Ngwa, etc., the citizens of the newly independent “Biafra” should be required to produce passports and legitimate visas each time they wish to visit any part of whatever is left of the dismembered Nigerian nation for business or pleasure, with strict customs controls to regulate the movement of goods and foodstuffs between the new Biafra and every other part of present day Nigeria.

Fair enough?

Interestingly enough, as any diligent student of Nigerian history is aware, there is no such thing as the “Igbo people,” because Igbo happens to be a language and not an ethnic group, just in the same way as Yoruba is a language, and not a tribe!

It so happens that most of the diverse folks who speak the Igbo language – Ngwa, Ohaffia, Wawa, Owerri, etc. – never actually interacted with each other on a regular basis during the pre-colonial era. In fact, some of the dialects that are spoken in certain parts of Ala Igbo are virtually incomprehensible in other Igbo-speaking lands.

Ironically, the often repeated complaint that Nigeria is an artificial creation of British colonialism would therefore also apply to any Biafran state that is formed out of an amalgamation of erstwhile antagonistic Igbo-speaking peoples, the more so as there are now many artificial traditional “kings” all over Ala Igbo, some of whom can be observed to be reigning under bizarre appellations like “Eze Donatus Ahamba 1 of Njikoka” or “Eze Jonathan Ndigbo 1 of Bende local community.”

Oh dear, why all these traditional “rulers” in Ala Igbo always “1”? Why no 2, 3 or 4?

Could it be that nobody in their different communities knows how to count beyond 1?

Or could it be that there have never been any traditional rulers in the history of Igbo-speaking peoples before the trend was initiated a few years ago, possibly to give the famous Nigerian actor Olu Jacob an opportunity of competing with the equally famous thespian Pete Edochie for the honor of winning the Nollywood absurdity prize for best traditional ruler role?

Anyway, the free cinema show of the long-awaited re-actualization of “Biafra” should be allowed to proceed unimpeded.

Hopefully, at the end of the entire process, the farce would have attained such proportions that we would all be encouraged to look forward to the next episode of this vastly entertaining farce.

Meanwhile, the law enforcement agencies would be well-advised to refrain from allowing themselves to be provoked into engaging in running battles with those who have declared their intention of shutting down the South-Eastern States on May 30th.

On the contrary, the new breed die-hard Biafrans should be allowed free passage into the nearest available beer parlors and pepper soup canteens in each of the South-Eastern States to celebrate the past, current or future Biafran independence to their heart’s content.

INTERVIEW: Abacha family using EFCC to humiliate me over Malabu, says Adoke|The Cableng

Mohammed Bello Adoke, attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice from 2010-2015, has been in the news over the controversial OPL 245 block awarded to Malabu Oil and Gas. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed charges against him but Adoke, who is currently on self-exile, told TheCable in an email interview that he did no wrong. He said it is some powerful interests that are using the anti-graft agency to persecute him.

TheCable: Your name has featured prominently in the investigations into the Malabu Oil/OPL 245 affair. What exactly are the issues in this messy deal?

Mohammed Adoke: The Malabu issue has been in existence since 1998. I want to take it from 1998 because I have seen that in recent times, the EFCC has taken up interest in the matter with a view to persecuting me. In order to make me look bad they have deliberately bifurcated the transaction and have chosen to present the issues from 2010 when I became involved in the settlement. However,the transaction started in 1998, when the military administration of General Sani Abacha came up with the policy of encouraging indigenous participation in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry. They allocated oil blocks to indigenous companies on discretionary basis at a reduced signature bonus of $20 million. The beneficiaries include Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, South Atlantic Petroleum Ltd (owned by Theophilus Danjuma) and Famfa Oil Ltd (Folorunsho Alakija). Malabu was allocated OPL 245 and they made a part-payment of $2 million for the signature bonus and brought in Shell as technical partners. Things seemed to be going on smoothly. Gen. Abacha died and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar came in, and things continued. And then he handed over power to Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999.

Sometime in 2001, due to circumstances not very clear but which the principal actors in government at the time can best explain, the federal government revoked OPL 245 from Malabu, whose beneficial owner was Chief Dan Etete, among others. It will be recalled that Etete was minister of petroleum when the oil block was awarded to Malabu in 1998. The administration of President Obasanjo then invited some international oil companies (IOCs) to bid for the Block 245. Shell participated and won the bid. The signature bonus was now $210 million. Malabu felt short-changed that Shell, its technical partner, had acted irresponsibly. Shell as technical partner to Malabu already had insider knowledge of the block. Malabu petitioned the house of representatives who then conducted a public hearing into the transaction and concluded that the revocation of the block from Malabu and reallocation to Shell was done

mala fide (in bad faith) and declared it null and void. It therefore passed a resolution that the block should be returned to Malabu.

Government did not comply with the resolution, so Malabu went to court and there was a series of litigation between Malabu and the FGN until sometime in 2006 when they entered into an out-of-court settlement which was subsequently reduced to a consent judgment of the federal high court, Abuja under the tenure of the then attorney-general of the federation, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN. As a result of the agreement and all the conditions set out to be met by all parties, Chief Edmund Daukoru, who was then the minister of state for petroleum resources, wrote on behalf of the FGN, and on behalf of the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and who incidentally was the minister of petroleum, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, to convey the decision to return the block 100% to Malabu in accordance with the terms of settlement.

TheCable: But Shell went to court to challenge it…

Adoke: Shell was dissatisfied with the return of OPL 245 to Malabu and commenced arbitration before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) which is an organ of the World Bank for the settlement of investor/state disputes. This matter was ongoing when President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua came into power in 2007. He set up an inter-ministerial committee to try to resolve this dispute between Shell, Malabu and FGN. Shell at that time offered to pay Malabu $500 million in addition to giving them some percentage of shares in the block. For some reason, the agreement had not been signed when President Yar’Adua died. In 2010, Malabu wrote a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, to complain that there was an agreement between them and FGN that was yet to be implemented. The president sent the letter to me to examine and advise. Based on this, I went through all the documents. I did due diligence on all the legal aspects and found a subsisting consent judgment of the federal high court and the settlement agreement between the parties which was executed on the 30th November 2006 and therefore advised that the judgment was enforceable. That is how I came into the OPL 245 picture.

TheCable: Is that all there was to your involvement?

Adoke: Well, President Jonathan approved my recommendation and endorsed a copy of the approval to myself and the honourable minister of petroleum resources for implementation. After that, the minister of petroleum issued the licence to Malabu. After the issuance of licence, Malabu was expected to pay the signature bonus within a period of 180 days. While Malabu was going around looking for technical partners because they were not ready to deal with Shell again, Shell, relying on its dominant position in the industry, issued a caveat to other IOCs that it had interest in OPL 245. This prevented other IOCs from pursuing their own interest in the block or entering into a working relationship with with Malabu. As a result, Malabu could not move forward, and neither could Shell. Indeed, Shell was trying to claim over $2 billion from the federal government. It claimed to have spent over $500 million on the block. They also listed loss of revenue and claimed damages.

TheCable: But did Shell have any genuine claims?

Adoke: If you look very well at the situation, we were in a dilemma. Why? Shell itself knew that this block was a problematic block to the extent that there was a pending litigation in court at the instance of Malabu in 2001. That is why they did not pay the entire signature bonus when they were initially allocated the block by the Obasanjo administration. They paid $1 million into the federal government account and paid the remaining $209 million into an escrow account jointly managed, please note, jointly managed, by both Shell and the federal government of Nigeria. A Shell representative was a signatory to that account while the minister of state for finance and the accountant-general of the federation were the signatories on behalf of the FGN. The three signatories were therefore required to approve any disbursement from the escrow account.

TheCable: But since Shell was aware of the pending litigation, why did they go into the transaction at all?

Adoke: Shell will have to explain that, but I guess they had reasonable assurances that they would be allocated the block and that made them go ahead to de-risk the block. If not, they wouldn’t have gone ahead to de-risk and they would not have had any claims against the government of Nigeria. They were obviously working with assurances then. But with Shell having gone ahead to de-risk the block, the same federal government revoked the block and gave it back to Malabu with a promise to give Shell another oil block with commensurate value. But Shell said they had spent so much money on de-risking OPL 245 and that was the basis of their arbitral claim. They saw the reallocation an as expropriation of their own asset. That was what made it investor/state arbitration. These are all the issues that my persecutors are hiding from the public and they are trying to bifurcate it by only treating it as an issue of 2010 when I advised on the enforceability of the judgment on the basis of which President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, approved its implementation in order to honour the agreement reached with Malabu.

After President Jonathan returned Block 245 to Malabu, ENI of Italy began to show interest in partnering with Malabu. ENI approached Shell with a proposal to partner and jointly acquire the oil block from Malabu. ENI approached the government to confirm if the allocation to Malabu was genuine and we authenticated it on the strength of the documents before us. They now came back with Shell and said they wanted to jointly acquire it but there had been a breakdown of confidence and respect between Malabu and Shell following years of legal battles. As a result of the mutual suspicion, they needed a third party to come in and help broker the deal. Shell did not trust Malabu and Malabu did not trust Shell. And here was ENI coming in as a partner with Shell. If that atmosphere of distrust did not exist, the involvement of the FGN would not have been necessary. All that would have been required was FGN’s consent to Malabu to assign the oil block to Shell and ENI.

We agreed to negotiate a settlement between Shell and Malabu on the condition that they would withdraw their arbitral proceedings against FGN. Shell in compliance with our demands terminated the arbitration. All the parties came together and negotiated directly, a committee was constituted involving officials of NNPC, Directorate of Petroleum Resources, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, State House counsel and officials of the ministry of justice. They sat down for two to three days, negotiated all the agreements, and they sorted things out. After the requisite presidential approval was obtained, the final Resolution Agreement on OPL 245 was signed by the minister of petroleum resources (Diezani Alison-Madueke), the finance minister at that time (Segun Aganga), myself as the chief law officer and attorney-general, the group managing director of NNPC, and all the departments, agencies and ministries of government directly responsible in dealing with this issue were duly represented. This was well captured in the public hearing by the house of representatives in 2013. The copy of the report is there in the national assembly. We all played our respective roles in order to give effect to the transaction. But today, the impression out there is that only Adoke knew about it and was solely responsible for the transaction, but that is a story for another day.

The president was duly briefed about the transaction, about what has taken place, about the $210 million signature bonus that was to be paid, which had already been warehoused since 2001 by Shell in an escrow account jointly managed with the federal government. Shell wrote to say they were satisfied with the agreement and then signed off their own portion of the instruction that the federal government should take the $209 million in the escrow account in addition to the $1 million it had already paid in 2001. The minister of state for finance and the accountant-general of the federation signed off their own portions after the approval of the president. Shell and ENI were to pay $1.1 billion to Malabu to buy the block off them.

TheCable: In essence, you authorised the transaction and the president signed off on it?

Adoke: No, I did not. I only conveyed the approval of the president to all the parties. Those are two different things. I did not authorise the transaction as I was not a signatory but only conveyed the president’s approval.
TheCable: There are reports of accounts being frozen by Swiss banks because of the way the transaction went…

Adoke: JP Morgan issued the payment the first time to a bank in Switzerland and it was returned for one reason or the other. They tried to send the money to another bank, and the Swiss banks kept rejecting it. It was within that period that Malabu had problems with some of the middlemen that helped them in negotiating the transaction with Shell and ENI. One of them said he was supposed to be paid $215 million for his services and Malabu told him to go and meet ENI for his payment. So he went to court in the UK and obtained an injunction. Before this money could be finally wired to Switzerland, JP Morgan had been served a court order. JP Morgan now reverted to me as the chief law officer of Nigeria saying, Look, there is this court order restraining us from disbursing $215 million from the money. They asked me what they should do. Of course, as a lawyer, I told them to comply with the instructions of the court and make sure they domiciled the money until the court decided otherwise. The spin they are putting on it today is that I authorised the payment of $801 million. But what I said was that since there is no restraining order on the balance, then pay it to the beneficial owners. That is it. That is why they are spinning now that Adoke authorised the payment of $801 million. That is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

After this was done, Mohammed Sani Abacha came up from nowhere and one Lawal Abba came up from nowhere and said he was representing the interest of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, that he had a power of attorney, that Atiku had shares in OPL 245, and that when this money is paid, we should make sure that they were also paid for their interest. And I said to them, the federal government of Nigeria does not work for individuals. This is a shareholder issue. This is an asset of the company. Why don’t you people call a meeting of the company? If there is no agreement between you people, go to court to find a way out. That was where the problem started for me. It was at that point that AA Umar wrote us a letter saying they represented the interest of one Mohammed Sani, which turned out to be Mohammed Sani Abacha as he has now finally come out to challenge the agreement in the open. He said if the federal government does not make sure that they are paid, they would embarrass the federal government of Nigeria. I dismissed the threat because I don’t work for them. My loyalty was to Nigeria and I had discharged my responsibility to the best of my knowledge. I had finished my assignment and moved on.

TheCable: Was there any further correspondence from them thereafter?

Adoke: Well, true to their threat, I started seeing sponsored articles against me in the media. I was not in the country when the first article was published. The solicitor general (then Abdullahi Yola) did a rejoinder, which he ran as an advert in the newspapers telling Nigerians the true nature of the transaction. I understand that the Abacha family had 60% of OPL 245, which was awarded while he was in power. As I told Mohammed Abacha, if I knew they actually owned 60% as they claimed, I would have got a court order to forfeit those shares to the FGN because they had violated the terms of Decree No 53. During General Abdulsalami’s adminsitration, they were made to disclose all their assets and liabilities and forfeit them and they were supposed to be transparent about it. In other words, they were in violation of that decree by not declaring their interest in OPL 245. It was unfortunate that I was not aware of it until the settlement had been completed. Ever since then, they have done one thing or the other to impugn the settlement and/or tarnish my reputation, sponsored all kinds of misinformation about me, sponsored public hearings on this issue of OPL 245. They have made damaging remarks. And at a time in point, Mohammed came and told me that they were behind the public hearing and that if we can get one or two concessions from me, they would tell the house of rrepresentatives to stop the hearing. I told him, Please Mohammed, go ahead with your public hearing, I have nothing to discuss or negotiate with you.

Meanwhile, at some point, Lawal Abba came and told me that his principal said if I could help them get what they wanted, I would get a share of $30 million. I told him I don’t need it. I don’t have that kind of money and I don’t want that kind of money. I’m a public officer and a professional. When I finish from here I will go back to school. But because of the kind of job he does as a commission agent, he thinks it is impossible to have a public officer turn down $30 million. He concluded that my refusal was because the other party must have given me money. I’m surprised he thought that way. This was the same person who sought to influence me on the probe of the Yar’Adua expressway contract. There were allegations that Julius Berger inflated the contract. A committee was set up and I was a member. The then secretary to the government of the federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, a very respected man, asked me to write the report of the committee. This same Lawal Abba came to me and said he knew them at Julius Berger and that if we wrote a favourable report, they had a budget for me. I told him off. Now if I could reject inducement in such an uncomplicated matter, why would I collect his money on OPL 245?

Let me state clearly that while this controversy raged, I on my own volition briefed the heads of EFCC and ICPC at the time, showed them documents and told them all they needed to know about the OPL 245 transactions. I had nothing to hide. They said they were convinced and that I did nothing wrong. And I put it behind me. My philosophy was that dirt would be thrown at me, and whatever dirt was thrown at me was the price to pay for being a public officer. The truth will come out someday. The truth is already coming out. But I must say this: never in my imagination did I think that a day would come when I would be treated like a petty criminal, forced out of my country in questionable circumstances, humiliated, disgraced, simply because some people feel they must settle scores with me because I refused to play to their dictates.

I am prepared to pay the price for serving my country. But in paying the price, it must be within the parameters and the framework of the rule of law. I’m not running away from Nigeria, contrary to what people might think. I have my reasons for not returning to Nigeria. But the truth of the matter is that I will also not throw myself into the path of a moving train because I want to prove that I am courageous. I need to be alive to tell my story. After that, anything can happen.

TheCable: EFCC says you exchanged more than $2.2 million at a bureau de change in Abuja as part of your own share of the bribes that were distributed to facilitate the Malabi transaction and that is why they want you back in Nigeria for interrogation.

Adoke: Let me tell you this story. After I was re-nominated as minister in 2011, my security detail said I could no longer be allowed to live where I was living, that I needed a safe house. They said my house was not befitting of my status and was not safe. They said one of my predecessors, Chief Bola Ige, was killed so cheaply and they would be failing in their duty if they did not adequately secure me. I turned down their request. I told them it was their duty to secure me. So we continued like that, but the pressure to relocate did not stop. My salary was less than N500,000 after all deductions. The total was like N900,000, but it was from there I paid my PA and driver, fuelled my cars and paid other expenses at home. I never drove a government car. I drove my personal cars. I told my security detail I could not afford to move house.

When the pressure did not subside, I approached my bank. I used to be the chairman of the audit committee of Unity Bank. I told them I needed a mortgage, that I was looking for a house. Aliyu Abubakar is a builder and a developer. I’d known him for many years. He told me he had some houses he was building and that he would sell one to me for N500 million. The bank said I should make an equity contribution. While the bank was prepared to give me N300 million, they expected me to contribute N200 million. The bank approved the mortgage and raised the cheque in the name of the developer, gave the developer the cheque in exchange for the certificate of occupancy.

The development was not moving at the pace which the developer promised. I was also in default because I was unable to sell the land I wanted to sell to raise my own equity contribution of N200 million. I had proposed to him to use my land, let us quantify it, it was worth more than N200 million at the going price, net it off and return my balance to me. He said no, he wanted cash. After some time, I couldn’t sell my land. Interest was accumulating on the N300 million loan from the bank. At a point, I had to pay interest of about N40 million. I told myself, I am sitting in my four-bedroom town house, I am enjoying myself, now these security people want to put me in trouble. I don’t want to leave office and it would become a problem for me.

Then my banker called me and said, Sir, the CBN is making a case about this your loan, that it is becoming sticky, and you know because you are a politically exposed person, you should do something about it. As I was ruminating over what to do, the developer came back to me and said CBN was interested in my property, that he wanted to pay me back my money and then take back the house. He asked for the certificate. I reminded him that he gave it to the bank. I said he should go and tell the bank that since I was unable to pay, he would refund the mortgage and retrieve the certificate. They told him they would release the certificate as soon as his cheque cleared. Apparently, CBN had already given him part-payment for the house. He went to the bank and paid. I don’t know how he paid. I don’t know if he paid them dollars, if he got the bureau de change to change any money, I was not aware. It was between him and the bank. He just said the bank had given him the certificate. The MD called and said, Thank you minister, the man has paid the money and we have given him the certificate of occupancy.

I thanked the bank and told them to close the account. When EFCC was trying to find something against me and did not find anything, one day they were going through the accounts of the developer, they saw a payment from Unity Bank and summoned him. They asked him to explain. He told them the story I have just told you. They said, where is the house? They wanted to go and put the EFCC caveat there. He told them it was no longer my house, that CBN had bought it and paid for it and because I couldn’t pay him the complete money, he paid back my money to Unity Bank and retrieved the certificate of occupancy. He told them he gave Unity Bank dollars and they changed it at a BDC. EFCC is now saying it was Adoke that went to change Malabu bribe money at a BDC.

But this is a simple question to ask: Malabu transaction took place in 2011. All the payment processes commenced 2011. I didn’t collect bribe in 2011. I didn’t collect bribe in 2012. It was now in 2013 that I collected bribe on a transaction that took place in 2011. Please does that make sense? Two, does it accord with common sense that for a transaction of $1.1 billion, I would take a bribe of $2.2 million even if I wanted a bribe at all? The same me that turned down a $30 million bribe offer? A bribe is supposed to induce you to do something. Why would I collect a bribe two years after the transaction had been concluded? Please does it make sense?

All form of dirt is being thrown at me for no reason. I understand one of my traducers said, How can a man be so clean? We’ve searched and searched and we can’t find anything. We must find something to pin on him. One of the in-house officers, who has come under the influence of Mohammed Abacha and Lawal Abba, said they could pin the BDC transaction on me. EFCC is even trying to use the fact that Aliyu Abubakar is an Ibirra man like me from Okene as evidence. That is how desperate they are in their bid to persecute me. After EFCC went to break down my house in Kano, for the first time since this persecution started, I shed tears. I can now understand why people lapse into depression, how people resort to self-pity. I shed tears not because of what they did, but I just could not believe that Nigeria has become like this — a country where anything goes.

EFCC has become a willing accomplice in the hands of those after me apparently because as attorney-general, I sought to curtail the excesses of the agency based on the provisions of the EFCC Act and Section 174 of the Constitution on the powers of the attorney-general. I came up with regulations to guide their conduct. They were carrying on like a parallel government and I believed it was not good for them. I did not make the regulations all by myself. Our development partners offered the suggestions and we involved the Nigerian Bar Association, the civil society, a representative of the EFCC itself in making the regulations. They were not happy at all. I was subjected to attacks in the media. I was particular about the receipt of foreign grants and management of recovered assets. Today, management of recovered assets is the biggest integrity challenge facing EFCC. If they had followed the regulations, they would not have run into the problem they eventually ran into.

TheCable: Our impression here in Nigeria is that you are running away. You have said that you are not running away but you would rather tell your story alive.

Adoke: I will bifurcate my answer and repeat what I said earlier on. I want to say again that I am not running away from Nigeria. Before the 2015 elections, I had made up my mind to go back to school whether or not President Jonathan got a second term. I opted to study pubic international law because as you may be aware, I was elected as a member of the International Law Commission. After the election, I got the admission and went to do an advanced LLM at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands. Before I travelled, something interesting happened. On the 20th of May 2015, a security officer in the Presidential Villa approached me and said, Sir, please whatever you do, leave Nigeria before the 29th of May. I dismissed this straightaway with the wave of the hand. He came back again and said, Sir, I am serious, you’re one of the few ministers who were nice to us, please leave on the 28th. On the 28th in the morning, he met me at the villa again and said, Sir, I hope you’re leaving today and I said yes, just to dismiss him. I could see disappointment written all over him when that night we went to the villa at the dissolution of the federal executive council. He saw me again and said, Oga, you’ve not left? I said yes, but I would leave. He said today is gone but please make sure you leave in the morning.

Then in the morning, I went to the airport in company of the former vice-president. President Jonathan was to hand over and meet us at the airport. While we were there, an incident happened that showed me that yes, something was amiss. The holding room where the president sits until the plane is ready to ferry him, when President Jonathan came, the boy that was supposed to open the place for him had already disappeared. Nobody opened that place for us. It was a hostile environment. We were less than two, three hours out of office! I was very downcast and disappointed. When President Jonathan left, I went home. Then I met this same security officer. He said, Sir, I beg of you, please leave tonight. I said to myself, well, God is speaking to me. So I took my beg, went to the airport and bought Lufthansa ticket and left Nigeria to go for a well-deserved holiday.

I came back to Nigeria to pick up my things to prepare for my LLM programme, which was to commence on the 20th of August. It was while I was there that I got a call that EFCC wanted me for questioning over OPL 245. I found it very curious and funny. I found it suspicious. I felt if they wanted information the first thing to do was to approach the sitting attorney-general since government is a continuum. They should normally say to the attorney-general, we are investigating this issue, please furnish us with documents and information on this and that. More so, I had previously written unsolicited to the EFCC and they had expressed satisfaction with the way the transaction was handled. Being a law-abiding citizen, I got my lawyers to write to EFCC that I was preparing for my examination and that I would not be able to honour their invitation. I promised to come in on the 28th of December, 2015 to honour their invitation.

Then one of my friends, I won’t mention his name, said he got a call from somebody saying they knew he was my good friend, that he should talk to me to “settle” them if not I would have serious problems. My friend said he started laughing. He called me and told me, and I said he should not worry, that I had done nothing wrong and I had no money to give to anybody. But that put me on the alert. Then on the 21st of December, I finished my examination. I told all my children that they should not go to Nigeria yet, that we should meet up in Dubai and have a good family Christmas we had not had in a long while. Then I would be proceeding to Nigeria to honour an invitation and that I was sure by first or second of January, I would be back for my studies. That was my mindset. I booked my ticket to be in Nigeria on the 27th of December.

So while I was in Dubai, I kept on getting calls telling me there was a plan to humiliate me. I laughed it off. I still did not take it seriously. I prepared to go on the 27th. I never thought that what they were telling me could happen in Nigeria. I said we are running a constitutional democracy. I knew it could happen under a military regime, but not under a democracy. On the 26th, in the evening, my son showed me a news flash that said ‘former AGF Adoke to honour EFCC invitation on December 28, to be arrested, detained and charged to court’. My children said, Daddy you are not going back to Nigeria in view of these revelations. That was how I changed my mind. A friend of mine whom I had earlier sent to them said they kept calling him to say, is he coming? He tried to convince me, and I almost changed my mind, but he too had a change of mind and advised me not to come.

Then something significant happened. The PA to the solicitor general/PS at the ministry of justice by the name Shehu Bida passed a message to me that there was a plan to disgrace me over this Malabu issue, but somebody was requesting that if I paid $3 million to them, then they would take me to see a certain big woman in the villa, they would take me to see the vice-president, they would take me round and then the matter would die down. I said where would I get that kind of money? Then he said, in Hausa, that no matter how small, I should find something. I was accused of taking $2.2 million bribe and I was to kill the case with $3 million! Isn’t that ridiculous?

Before then, I almost forgot, on the 27th of December, I was in a Dubai hotel when Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, walked in. I couldn’t believe my luck. I greeted him and he received me very warmly. He was extremely pleasant to me. I told him I had been hoping to see him. I asked for an appointment. He asked his ADC to sort it out. I used the opportunity to prepare a detailed brief for him. I had been told that the Milan investigators already came to see the president over the Malabu issue and the president passed the papers to the VP. I was confident that since he too is a lawyer and had handled similar transactions before, like Enron and so many other things, when he was attorney-general of Lagos state, he would be in a better position to look at the issues and advise government appropriately. That must have been a mistake on my part from the look of things. He acknowledged receipt of my letter and all the attachments that I sent through Senator Andy Ubah. I copied the DG of SSS and even the EFCC itself, as well as the attorney-general’s office. It was necessary because they started playing funny games at the ministry of justice, where the solicitor general/permanent secretary was then acting when ministers had not been appointed. They lied that I did not leave any files behind. It was my secretary who debunked the claim when the attorney-general was appointed, he was able to retrieve the files from the solicitor general/permanent secretary’s office. By the way, the same Lawal Abba is the solicitor general/ PS’s best friend. They are always together. They are like twins.

After my detailed brief was sent to the VP, the same Lawal Abba went about telling people that if I think I could get succour from the vice-president, I was deceiving myself. He said the vice-president was with them. He said they had reached the vice-president and told him everything. Incidentally, I never heard from the vice-president again. I did not return to Nigeria because I had even been told that an operative had been planted in my house that was to inform EFCC as soon as I landed. Some operatives were waiting at the airport. I was not to be allowed to come into my house if I came through the normal route. I was to be whisked away and taken to detention. But if I came by some other route, the operative was to inform them I was home so that they could come and grab me with a lot of media sensation. All these pieces of information made me conclude that this is not a normal situation. And in an abnormal situation, you cannot take a normal decision. The world should hear your own side of the story even if you are going to die. It is not about dying. It is about documenting history. There were lots of attacks on me in the media, all kinds of lies and tales from EFCC.

TheCable: We understand your residence in The Hague was searched when you were doing your programme. Is it true?

Adoke: Yes. One day, I went to use the library at the International Court of Justice. While I was there, my instinct kept telling me, Go home. I came out of the library and entered the tram, and got down at the train station. I then took another tram to go to my house. When I entered the tram, my instinct told me I was being followed. A certain guy was behind me. I felt this guy was following me. I become alert. The tram stopped in front of my house. When I got off, the guy didn’t come down, so I said maybe I was overreacting. My gate is an electronic gate. As I opened my gate and walked into the common area, I just heard, Excuse me. The guy flashed his badge at me, and said he was from the financial intelligence unit. Before you could say Jack Robinson, two more persons had followed him in. Then they said my house was under search. That was my first Gestapo experience in life. I opened the door for them. My phone rang and they said, No, you cannot pick your call, switch off your phone.

My first instinct was to ask, Can I call my embassy? They said, No, not at the moment. Can I call my lawyer, they said, No. Then I knew they had made the first tactical mistake but then I kept quiet. It’s my fundamental right to call a lawyer. They took my laptop. I have an iPad and two laptops. All for my academic work. After some time, an Italian came in. Some Dutch guys also came in. Then that guy that was in the tram also came in. That gave me some kind of psychological fright. I asked them, What exactly are you looking for? They said they were investigating money laundering and corruption. I kept quiet. I could feel my blood pressure shoot up. They allowed me to take my drugs. They said I could even eat if I wanted. They were very patient. I asked them, What are you waiting for? They said they were waiting for the judge. I was now more specific, What is the matter? They now said they were investigating OPL 245.

When the judge came, he said they must have told me why they are here. I said yes. He asked me if I had any money or documents at home. I said yes. I had plenty money and documents. You could see the excitement. They had been told from Nigeria that I am a thief, that I had so much money. EFCC had stationed all their media outlets to be on standby, that a sting operation was going on in my house in The Hague and they were about to catch a thief. I took the investigators towards the door. They must have been wondering that if I had so much money, why would I take them downstairs instead of upstairs. I have a coin box. In it was €60. I told them, That’s my money. They said, No no no, not this kind of money. I told them this is the only money I have at home. I now said, You are looking for documents on OPL 245? Then come with me. I took them up. I had prepared about 12 bundles of the documents, and distributed to various places, including EFCC, office of AGF, ICPC, VP and others. I had three bundles left. They wanted to take the three and I said, If everybody was taking everything, you won’t have met any bundle with me. The judge told them to return two, but they still didn’t do that until my lawyers wrote them.

They then stripped the house and found nothing. They thought I owned the house, because the Nigerian embassy had written to them to say I bought the house. The investigators believed the Nigerian Embassy. They were shocked when they saw the lease agreement and discovered that it was a rented accommodation. I laughed. They took my credit cards, which were well spent at that time. The credit cards really helped me. Without that, I would have died of hunger in The Hague. This was somebody who stole $800 million, according to EFCC. They searched they didn’t see anything. They now said I should sign that they took some documents. They took my bank statement, which showed that I had about €18,000 in my bank. Out of the €18,000, the school transferred €15,000 to me, because for the embassy to give you visa, you must show evidence by paying to the school your maintenance allowance. So when I opened the account, they transferred the money back to me.

After they left, I hallucinated for three days. The next day, the EFCC media outlets were disappointed that they couldn’t find anything to report. The big thief had not been caught! They still reported a few lies though. Four days later, the investigators called me and said they wanted to come and have a friendly chat with me. I told them they were free to come but my lawyer would be there. When my lawyer came, she said since I was under suspicion for money laundering and corruption, I had nothing to tell them. Brilliant young lady lawyer. She said anytime they were ready for proper, formal investigation, they should let us know. I then got a letter from the Italian prosecutor that they wanted me to come to Italy, they wanted to interview me about OPL 245. My lawyer got an Italian lawyer to write them that I was preparing for my exams and there was no free period for me to come to Italy. They now said they would come to The Hague.

On the appointed day, sometime in May 2016 after my final exams, I got there and the Dutch authorities said they were taking my statement as a witness. I cooperated with them. For the first day, I gave them all the statements. The Italian people were also there, but their main prosecutor did not come. The next day when we were supposed to continue, the Italian main prosecutor was there on that day. The Dutch people said I was giving a statement as a witness, but the Italian guy opposed them, saying I was under investigation by EFCC and therefore I was a suspect. My lawyer then said the interrogation was over, that Mr Adoke would exercise his right to silence and would not say anything further.

Then the Italian guy made a mistake: he accused me of not having respect for law officers. I told him if I did not have respect for them, I wouldn’t have cooperated with them. I said I spoke with them as a witness, but he was now saying I was a suspect, so I have the right to change my position too. He now said, It is all about your life. Note that again. My life! I told him I didn’t know that my life was under threat, but now that I know, the Dutch authorities owe me the duty of protection. He knew he made a mistake. I stood up and left, and my lawyer told them I would not give any further testimony. I told the Dutch guys, you have treated me very well, any day anytime you need any information from me, please call me and I will talk to you without the Italians. And anytime I ran into any document that I felt would be of importance to them, I would hand it in. Ever since then, I have not heard anything from them. I go in and come out of The Hague freely.

TheCable: From what you have said so far, you seem to suggest that you have offended a lot of people who are now coming after you. You have mentioned a former vice-president, the Abacha family, the EFCC establishment and so on. Why do you suspect them?

Adoke: Are we still talking about suspicion? It has gone beyond suspicion. Mohammed Abacha has now filed a case in court over Malabu. Something is giving him confidence. Some people are promising him he could use the court to get the oil block. Yet by virtue of Decree No 53, the family had forfeited all identified assets to the federal government. In fact, all undeclared assets were also forfeited. Lawal Abba is telling everyone he is working for Atiku Abubakar in this matter. He claims to be the agent of Atiku and Reuben Fasawe. People should ask him how a sitting wice-president could acquire shares in OPL 245 as claimed by Lawal Abba. People should ask appropriate questions such as whose interest Fasawe is representing in OPL 245/Malabu? People should ask if in a decent country, the children of Abacha could come out openly to say ‘we own OPL 245′ when the oil block was awarded by their father. Should they have been so confident to lay that kind of a claim? Why has the EFCC not gone after them to ask how they acquired interest in OPL 245? If not that the political environment is conducive for them, they wouldn’t raise their head to be making such claims.

TheCable: What do you mean by conducive political environment? Are you suggesting they are strong in this government?

Adoke: Clearly, they have sympathisers in this government. For the eight years of President Obasanjo, the Abachas never came out to make a claim to OPL 245. They never tried it under President Yar’Adua either. Under Jonathan, they never came out to assert any claim as they are doing today. But under this government, they are feeling so comfortable to make such an audacious claim, even filing a court case, and the EFCC is not going after them. State institutions are working for them. This is very dangerous.

TheCable: Are you suggesting that they are working hand-in-glove with people in power?

Adoke: Mohammed Abacha has boasted to someone about his links to the Presidency, but I have my doubts about that because everybody knows that on the issue of corruption, President Buhari is very stern and he is like a Trojan Horse — when you tell him somebody is corrupt, he doesn’t see the other side until he pursues it to a logical conclusion. But it seems they have been able to get some people very close to the president to paint a picture different from the reality. That is why it is imperative to state the correct position so that this thing can become public knowledge and the president himself who is being screened from knowing the real truth about OPL 245 can know the exact story.

TheCable: Was your house in Abuja also searched?

Adoke: I heard the story. My friend’s wife was calling me frantically, that she understood my house was being searched. That the government was looking for money. She was distressed. I told her not to worry, that I don’t have any money. As it turned out, it was not even my house that was searched. Apparently, somebody misled them. Let me tell you something. The last two years have been very tough for me. If indeed I have the kind of money they are talking about, I wouldn’t be living on handouts from friends today. Before I came to office, I had a successful legal practice. I was also an international arbitrator. Because of this hounding, my legal practice has virtually collapsed. The negative stories have also affected my position locally and internationally. It is double jeopardy for me. I have not earned any income since I left office. Is this what I deserve for serving my country for five years? At the end of the day, I cannot move on with my life because some people feel offended that while I was in office, I did not play ball.

TheCable: Did EFCC explain why your house in Kano was searched?

Adoke: No. But I understand they were looking for documents. When Obasanjo denied any knowledge of the Malabu deal and a document surfaced that proved to the contrary, it seems the authorities believed I leaked it. They think I still have documents that will implicate many others. They also think I may be in possession of documents that they can use to nail me. That’s why they are searching everywhere now.

TheCable: Magu comes across as a courageous and determined anti-graft czar and a man of integrity. It is difficult to accept that some people are using EFCC under him against you.

Adoke: This thing I want to you, please you can crosscheck from the former EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde. When he was made EFCC chairman in 2011, I asked him to tell me what he needed to succeed in his assignment. He pleaded that there were some crack officers he had worked with in the past in the EFCC who had been removed and sent back to the police. He said he wanted them back. I told him to write a letter to the police management requesting for them to be reposted to EFCC. The police were reluctant to release some of them for one reason or the other. Among them was Magu. I called the inspector general of police and made the request and insisted, and he agreed. There were so many negative comments about Magu but I was not bothered. Please ask him if I ever told him the role I played in his career, if I ever asked him for a favour, if he ever paid me anything. Because if I’m a corrupt person, I would have approached him all the while for a favour.

I understand that he has been telling people that he is not my problem, that it is some powerful people that are after me. I was in government for five years and I understand how these things work. I have decided to be quiet about all these things until now. A very, very influential governor asked Magu what was the problem with me and why he was after me, and Magu said he is not my problem and I should go and sort out my problem with the vice-president, that the vice-president is the one that asked him to go after me. How authentic that is, considering the politeness with which the vice-president attended to me in Dubai, I don’t know. But this is not the first time I’ve heard that. Magu’s chief of staff also voiced a similar sentiment, that the VP said they must get Adoke at all costs.

TheCable: But did you ever have any problems with the vice-president?

Adoke: No. Not to the best of my knowledge. There are two possibilities. Maybe those who are fighting me had an audience with him and persuaded him to go after me. I know that Lawal Abba is very close to VP’s boys. Don’t forget that he boasted that if I think the VP would help me, I was wrong, that they had reached the VP before me. Lawal also tells people that Magu is his friend. The other possibility is that in an interview I granted THISDAY in 2016, I did make reference to the Halliburton case in which we used lawyers to recover monies from the foreign companies that bribed Nigerian officials. I did make the case that we would give the lawyers commission on whatever they recovered, and that the federal government would not pay them for their services. I now referred to the Pfizer case in Kano and mentioned the VP’s name as one of the lawyers who got paid by Pfizer in the settlement of the case. I said government did not pay any lawyer. I said that was the model we adopted in the Halliburton case too. I mentioned the names of the lawyers who got paid by Pfizer as Chief J.B. Daudu, SAN, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, a host of other Nigerian lawyers, including Mariam Uwais. Their fees were paid to them by Pfizer through Mr. Tunde Irukera. It was the same method we used in paying the lawyers in the Halliburton case.

I was told that he was very bitter that I mentioned his name in that transaction. That could possibly account for his hatred and current contempt for me if indeed it is true. It is still speculative because the person who told me was not very certain. Maybe that is possibly the reason why he is trying to get a pound of flesh and supporting the people I offended in the Malabu transaction to come after me using the EFCC. If that is true, I use this medium to apologise to him. I use this medium to confirm to him that the statement was not made in bad faith. It was just to amplify the fact that the model we used for Halliburton was not strange, that it had been used before. It was merely illustrative. I sincerely ask that since he is a Christian and a pastor, he should forgive me if that is what is agitating his heart. It was never meant to slight or impugn his integrity.

TheCable: If the federal government assures you of your safety, that no harm would before you, would you be willing to return home to face the EFCC?

Adoke: I will definitely come back, if I have the assurance that they will not harm me, they will not humiliate me any further, they will respect the laws of the land. If I am arrested and granted bail, I hope they will obey the court and not treat me like they have been treating others, they will not scandalise me, and there will be no mob trial, media circus, certainly I will return. But I will tell you something: that is not the environment that exists in Nigeria today. That is where my fear lies. Also, I cannot underestimate the extent to which those after me can go considering the enormous power and influence they have in the government of today.

I was in a restaurant in an African country recently with a cousin of mine. Somebody then walked in. He is the grandson of an influential Nigerian who is dead now. As we got talking, he didn’t recognise who I was. It was while we were talking that he asked me if I was Mr. Adoke. I said yes. He said, Oga, you are a very lucky man. He said I was supposed to come to Nigeria on 28th of December 2015. I said yes. He said it was good you didn’t come. He said ‘you were lucky’. He said the instruction by those after me was that between the airport and my house, I should be taken out. He said you were very lucky. He said, Even though I don’t know you, incidentally I like you, that day when I went to my house, I was wondering: so this is how Nigeria wastes people. He said he knelt down as a Christian to pray for me. He said he read Psalm 91 in his prayers and when he heard that I didn’t come, he was very happy. He said, I beg you in the name of God, don’t jump in front of a moving train because you want to prove a point, you must be alive to prove that point in the fullness of time. That remains the fulcrum of my decision not to come back to Nigeria for now.

You described Magu as a man of integrity. I don’t know about that. A senator asked him if he had any personal issues with me, and Magu said I owned half of the Centenary City. That is ridiculous. I opposed the Centenary City right from the beginning. Anyim Pius Anyim is my very good friend. We never had any disagreement until the issue of Centenary City came up. I opposed it. Yet Magu was saying so authoritatively that I owned half of it! He said he had information. How can you come to such a strong conclusion without proper investigation? And it is based on this that you allow those after me to use you? He was saying he would deal with me, he would finish me, he would disgrace me. He has absolute hatred and contempt for me. Based on false information! Where is national interest in all this? How do you expect me to have confidence in such a person?

It has become very easy to use the EFCC against me because they had an issue with me in any case. They did not like the fact that I insisted on creating a Proceeds of Crimes and Asset Management Agency independent of EFCC to manage recovered assets. I did not act on my own. It was our development partners that suggested it and I agreed with it. It is in the interest of the country that EFCC should be transparent in its activities. But the officials of EFCC hated me for this. If you have an institution like that with consistent hatred and contempt for you, how do you subject yourself to it and believe that you will get justice, that they will be fair to you? Don’t forget that some suspects have died in EFCC detention facilities. I was told that arrangements had been made that even if I made it to EFCC detention, then I would die in questionable circumstances. They would arrange with some phantom doctors to conclude that I died of heart attack. How do I now subject myself to these guys? To prove that I am a hero?

I’m not running away from Nigeria. I served in one of the highest positions in the country and I gave my best. I am 54 now. I have no other country but Nigeria. The Abacha family has every reason to fight me. It is beyond OPL 245. It was just an excuse for them. The truth is that we made so many recoveries from the Abacha family. Most of the recoveries being brandised today were products of my efforts as AGF working in conjunction with the office of the national security adviser and our Swiss attorney, Mr. Enrico Monfrini. These were recoveries that we did not repatriate to Nigeria before we left government so that nobody would say we repatriated the money in order to loot. That is why the monies are just being repatriated now.

Magu even said that I collected £25 million from Jersey and shared with my friends. This is incredible. It is so easy to trace. Let them go to Jersey and investigate in this era of paper trail. You can trace this money. They just simply scandalised my name. When they discovered that the money went into the federal government account in Basel, nobody ever talked about it again. But on record my name has been scandalised simply because a so-called human rights activist asked for that case and I refused to give him. But he didn’t tell people that I gave him the case of Enron in the US to handle. I paid him. He didn’t tell people all that he benefitted from me, and how he sent several people to ask for favors for my office, including seeking an appointment for his wife.

Senator Ali Ndume is one of those putting fuel in the fire through EFCC. He believes I was responsible for his trial over the allegation that he is a sponsor of Boko Haram. But he has forgotten that he was named positively and clearly by one of the convicted Boko Haram suspects that he was the one giving the names of government officials, including my name, that they should continue to terrorise us that we must do ABCD for them. He is one of the closest people to Magu and has been boasting around that Magu would even scores with me. People have forgotten that Boko Haram bombed my house in Kano. I was the only public officer whose house was bombed but who did not collect compensation. The house is still there. There are many things I don’t want to talk. So many people are fighting me and the EFCC has become a willing tool in their hands.

Even I am told that the Tinubu people think I was the one responsible for his trial at the Code of Conduct Bureau, but I was not the one. In fact, when the government wanted to appeal, I stood my ground that Tinubu should not be disgraced. I argued that there are people in Nigeria that we just cannot afford to rubbish over nothing. Tinubu knows very well that I did that. There was nothing legally possible that Tinubu wanted that I did not do for him, which made people even accuse me of working for the opposition at that time. What Tinubu doesn’t know is that some people called me recently that 2019 is approaching, they need to clip the wings of Tinubu, I should supply them with documents that they could use, documents on his certificate issue and all that, and I told them to leave me alone. I had the documents as AGF but I never acted. Now that they are breaking into my houses, I won’t be surprised if it is part of what they are looking for.

I am pained, really pained as I speak. I can’t take care of my children. I’m losing it all. My family is in disarray because of this persecution. If I had the kind of money they are accusing me of stealing, I will use it to fight them. Fortunately for them and unfortunately for me, I don’t have money. If you don’t know me, you would think I’m a monster the way they have been painting me.

TheCable: You seem to have some sympathy for the president. There was this report that you refused to file a case of perjury against him before the 2015 elections. Is it true?

Adoke: It is true that some people came to me and said Buhari should be disqualified because of certificate forgery. As a man with fidelity to the constitution, I dismissed the suggestion quickly. In fact, there were cases in court which I felt were not necessary. They were already becoming a security threat. As a responsible attorney-general, I believed we did not need further crisis in the country. Boko Haram was enough problem for us. I resisted pressures to compound the security challenges in the country by filing or authorising such cases to be filed on behalf of the government. I was not doing President Muhammadu Buhari any favour, I must say that. I was being faithful to the laws of the land. That was the duty expected of me. If you call that sympathy, so be it. But I didn’t do him a favour.

There was pressure to issue a fiat to charge him to court for forgery. But I made my position very clear that I could not see any forgery at all. The law did not require you to submit any certificate to INEC and Buhari did not submit any certificate. The law only said you must have a minimum qualification of so so and so. Therefore, where was the forgery? If he didn’t submit a certificate, where was forgery? There is no police report, no investigation. No responsible attorney-general will issue any such fiat based on the record before me. But I could have been reckless if I wanted to be reckless. I could have been irresponsible if I wanted to be irresponsible. I could have issued the fiat. There could have been mayhem. There could have been destruction. That could have led to the postponement of the elections. I know what attorneys-general have done in the past, not minding the consequences for the polity. I know what they are capable of doing. But I am a constitutional purist. When they mooted the idea of an interim government, I was the one that came out to say the concept of interim government is unknown to law. People told President Jonathan that I was disloyal, that I was work

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Copyright 2017 TheCable. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.thecable.ng as the source.

Malabu Oil Bloc Fraud: Obasanjo And The Unruliness Of Self-Exoneration By Ifeanyi Izeze

Don’t get it twisted: this article is not for or against the serially blurred transactions in the OPL 245 Malabu oil bloc controversy. It is against former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s grandstanding and self-exoneration in the fraud, adding to the awkwardness of the characters of the people that rule this country and their absurdities.

Two questions Nigerians should ask Gen. Obasanjo: who was Nigeria’s president and petroleum minister in 2001 when the prospecting license of oil bloc OPL 245 was revoked and ownership reverted to the federal government? Who was Nigeria’s president and petroleum minister in 2006 when, after a series of negotiations, the license was restored and ownership of the oil block reverted to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited? We always miss the point and end up wasting time investigating issues that logically lead us to nowhere.

Was it not the height of irresponsibility for the elder statesman, who was both president and petroleum minister at the time of the controversial resolution of the ownership dispute around the oil bloc, to say in a recent interview that he considered the controversial award of OPL 245 oil field license as the “height of corruption,” and could not have participated in negotiations that led to the deal?

Yes, it was Abacha’s government that conceived the original fraud in 1998, but we have since gone beyond that in the integrity issues at stake in this matter.

Who would ever believe that this Obasanjo we know cannot remember ordering and/or signing any resolution involving a multi-billion dollar oil deal even when he doubled as both president and petroleum minister? How long can we continue like this as a nation?

Is it this Obasanjo who is a well-known micro manager or another one? This is very awkward. The Nigerian constitution practically makes the president the only authority that can grant or revoke oil bloc ownership in Nigeria. It is very clever for former President Obasanjo to say he can’t remember, but is anybody deceived? Saying you can’t remember giving approval is not the same as saying that you did not give approval. You could have given approval and not remembered doing so. And how can we know what you chose to remember or forget when we are not God?

Either Obasanjo lied or wants us to believe he was so grossly detached from his own administration to have a multi-billion dollar transaction (settlement, or rather peace deal) go down under his nose and he knew nothing about it. It’s the same thing with the Halliburton scandal and the sale of federal government assets; he knew nothing then and he knows nothing now. Haba ranka de de! Yet it is still a mystery how a man that said he had only N20,000 to his name when he was released from prison in 1998 could have become a multi-billionaire in dollars just within eight short years of service to his country. Gen. Obasanjo should stop insulting our sensibilities and answer to the charges against him.

Is it not curious that 19 years after it was first awarded, OPL 245 has continued to generate controversy?

The reason is very obvious. OPL 245 is located on the southern edge of the Niger Delta, in water depths ranging from 1,700 to 2,000 meters. The bloc holds significant discovered hydrocarbon reserves and is thought to be very prospective. Two oil and gas discoveries have been made on the bloc. Etan and Zabazaba were discovered in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Eni plans to develop the Etan and Zabazaba fields in phases with subsea wells tied-back to a leased floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel. The bloc, considered the richest in Africa, is estimated to contain over 9 billion barrels of crude and even larger volume of gas reserves. For comparison, at Nigeria’s current OPEC oil output quota of 2.2 million barrels per day, OPL 245 alone can provide all Nigeria’s daily oil production needs for over 15 years.

Malabu Oil and Gas Limited was formed on April 20, 1998 and was only nine days old when Abacha government awarded the company the most prolific oil bloc in Africa.

Is Obasanjo claiming that he cannot also remember that following the out of court settlement which took place under him as president and oil minister that there were two agreements signed?

First there was the Malabu Resolution Agreement, which supposedly settled all claims to the OPL 245 between the federal government and Malabu Oil and Gas for a consideration of $1.1 billion.

Second was the OPL 245 Resolution Agreement. This agreement was between the oil majors – SNEPCO, SNUD, ENI, NNPC and the Federal Government accepting the OPL 245 for a consideration of $1.1 billion to be paid to Malabu. In this agreement, the federal government took care of its Signature Bonus which was paid by SNEPCO on behalf of SNUD (being an affiliate of SNEPCO).

The Federal Government’s role in the second agreement was to take the money paid for the license by Shell and Eni and transfer it to Malabu Oil and Gas. The money was never owned by the government either as payment for exploration license, royalties or any fee whatsoever. So technically, the funds belonged to Malabu. Was this the reason why Shell and Eni paid directly to the Federal Government and the government immediately wired the money to Malabu?

Yes, as claimed by former President Obasanjo. He was really angry with the initial award of the OPL 245 rights to Etete and the Abacha family under the Malabu conscription, but as alleged, he revoked the initial license in 2001 with the intention of grabbing the oil bloc for himself and a few others. But this did not work out as planned. The series of negotiations and renegotiations between 2001 and 2006 only ended up introducing Obasanjo into the ownership structure of OPL 245 and Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd. How did Otunba Oyewole Fasawe enter into the ownership structure of Malabu Oil and Gas the contending owner of the prolific OPL 245? And whose interest if Otunba Fasawe representing in the business? Abeg make all of una go sit down!

Surprisingly, no one is asking why it took the Abachas and Fasawe 10 years after the first resolution agreement and 6 years after the payment to file their claim. As remarked by a brother, Innih, except as we have today, which other form of government could Mohammed Abacha have garnered the audacity to go to court over what was stolen in the first place?

We are gradually getting to the bottom of this matter, as Mohammed Abacha in an interview has already threatened that Nigerians would be shocked to hear some ugly details of deals around the Malabu oil bloc controversy and the prominent names involved. God bless Nigeria!

Ifeanyi Izeze writes from Abuja. You can reach him at

iizeze@yahoo.com .

THIEVES, MADNESS AND THE NATION By Jibrin Ibrahim (Deepening Democracy Column, Daily Trust, 17th February 2017)

 

Nigeria is suffering from a real crisis related to the scale of theft of public resources that is beyond all logic and can only be equated to madness. For decades, some public officials have been stealing billions of Naira and subsequently some of them graduated into stealing billions of dollars. In the process, they have completely lost sight of rationality; that is how much you can reasonably spend in your lifetime and the lifetimes of your children. Two million dollars for example is over one billion Naira and there is no way a family can reasonable spend one billion Naira in their lifetime. I say reasonably because of course one can spend one billion Naira renting planes and buying houses that are too big for a family to live in. It is the disappearance of reasonableness that I find extremely alarming

.

Nigeria is suffering from a real crisis related to the scale of theft of public resources that is beyond all logic and can only be equated to madness. For decades, some public officials have been stealing billions of Naira and subsequently some of them graduated into stealing billions of dollars. In the process, they have completely lost sight of rationality; that is how much you can reasonably spend in your lifetime and the lifetimes of your children. Two million dollars for example is over one billion Naira and there is no way a family can reasonable spend one billion Naira in their lifetime. I say reasonably because of course one can spend one billion Naira renting planes and buying houses that are too big for a family to live in. It is the disappearance of reasonableness that I find extremely alarming.
We have it on judicial authority that the former Delta State governor, James Ibori, is a thief. Specifically, Mr. Ibori was convicted of corruption and money laundering on April 17, 2012, after five years of trial by the Southwark Crown Court in the United Kingdom and sentenced to 13 years in prison. The whole world knows that and yet, he was bold enough to go to thanksgiving in his church and say that he is not a thief and that his enemies were simply maligning him. This happened when Mr. Ibori returned to Nigeria after serving jail term in the United Kingdom for corruption and theft of public funds. During the special thanksgiving held in his honour, at the First Baptist Church in Oghara, Delta State last Sunday, Mr. Ibori said he was wrongly accused and that he was truly hurt by the anguish his people went through because of the long absence of their hero. He told them that: “They want me to go to the corner where I won’t be seen. Today, I have decided to speak for myself. I am not a thief; I cannot be a thief. Today is the day they say I should give testimony to God. For those who know me, you know that my life is a testimony itself. I have said it over and again that my life is fashioned by God, directed by God, sealed, acknowledged and blessed by God. I believe that since the day I was born.”  This is the other element of madness that I find unbelievable. People will break God’s commandments, do the ungodly and confidently declare God to be on their side. I find it difficult for someone who believes in God to act this way because the first principle is that God knows what you have done and although humans can sometimes succeed in deceiving other human beings, they cannot deceive God. The only real explanation I can think of is that they do not really believe in God.
Just before starting to write this column, I saw a video clip distributed by WhatsApp of friends and colleagues of Andrew Yakubu, the former Group Managing Director of NNPC giving testimonies of his life as a good Christian and an excellent professional. I remember when I met him once in a mutual friend’s house; he spent a lot of time talking about his devotion to God. At the same time, he would see no contradiction in being found with almost ten million dollars; that had obviously been taken from public coffers. I remember that when the discovery was made, a number of people from his zone in Southern Kaduna were complaining bitterly that he had never done anything for his community, had no record of helping people and yet he was hiding all this money he and his family would not have been able to spend it.
The Federal Government announced a few days ago that its Whistle-blower policy has started yielding fruit and has so far led to the recovery of US$151 million and 8 billion Naira in looted funds. According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the amount does not include the $9.2 million in cash found with Andrew Yakubu. The monies were recovered from just three sources through whistle-blowers who gave actionable information to the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation. This means that relations and friends of looters of funds are releasing information so that they would get their slice of the cake, which is between 2.5 and 5% of the amount recovered. When I heard about this inducement, I had laughed it off thinking people would not take it seriously. As usual, I was underestimating the greed of some Nigerians. I now think this policy should be widely publicised so that more looted funds would be recovered. The whistle-blower policy is only about two months old and so much money has already been recovered. From all indications, only a very small amount of stolen money has been recovered so far. The capacity of some of our people to engage in mega looting is indeed scandalous.
I think some basic civic education is necessary for the Nigerian elite. The most important one is to send as many people as possible to long jail terms for corruption. That is the ultimate lesson that can teach people that corruption is bad. This approach is the most effective because many corrupt Nigerians are convinced that God is on their side so lessons on morality and ethics cannot be effective. The second lesson would be for the National Orientation Agency to trace the home communities of all confirmed mega looters and organise seminars and rallies on how such people have done so much harm to the nation. Its difficult to succeed but seeing the way Ibori was received at home, we cannot fold our hands and say communities have the right to welcome thieves with a 21-gun salute and mega feasting. Finally, we should open a register in what should be called the NATIONAL HALL OF SHAME, where the names and the terrible deeds of mega thieves would be displayed. The information on the register should be used to teach this history to our children, now that we have decided to re-introduce the teaching of history in our schools.

Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, Senior Fellow, Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja

President Buhari And His London Visitors – By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, let me warn quickly that a new circus has come to town and there is a theatre of the absurd ongoing in the city of London. The patrons are very important personalities from Nigeria who have turned the supposed illness of our dear President Muhammadu Buhari into a stage play. At the rate these medical tourists are going, Nigeria may be empty of all its fat cats as they jostle to pay obeisance lest anyone accuses them of nonchalance and of plotting against the President or wishing him dead. Yes, we can be that petty in this clime.

When President Buhari suddenly left our shores, several weeks ago, he did what our late President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua failed to do which was to send a simple letter to the National Assembly about his intention to go on vacation or for medical treatment, or whatever, and hand over authority to his Vice President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. At least, it shows President Buhari had learnt a useful lesson from the experience of his brother and we must praise God for little mercies. What else could he have done? I think he should have improved on this uncommon performance by telling Nigerians he’s been battling with some debilitating ailment for some time which necessitated his having to travel regularly and sometimes suddenly. For God’s sake, it is not a crime to fall sick. We all do, in various degrees, from time to time. At over 70 years on the surface of this earth, no one would expect President Buhari to be in the most perfect state of health. It is a miracle that he survived the harrowing vicissitudes of life after he was thrown into a dungeon in 1985 during the military coup that toppled his dictatorship. He also had to contest some bloody elections a record four times before fortune smiled at him. Naturally, all of these events would have combined to conspire against his health.

So why should he be ashamed of telling the world that his health is failing and that he would have to attend to it as frequently as possible? No one needs to consult a doctor or a prophet to know our President is not very well at this moment and that he deserves our understanding and prayers. Even if we thought otherwise, his London visitors have virtually confirmed our worst fears. Aso Rock media gurus who have been regaling us with tales of how well and fit the President is should have worked harder on their powerful friends to stay in Nigeria and wait to flood the airport whenever it pleases God to bring him back in one piece to Nigeria. Rushing to London to mark register is absolutely unnecessary and a total waste of scarce resources. The London visitors have wittingly or inadvertently attracted more attention to the President’s frailty.

I have taken time to study some of the pictures that have emerged from the President’s shrine in London and most of them did not do justice to whatever it is some people are trying to cover up by fire by force. The pictures have shown clearly why the President cannot just yank himself off from London and return home pronto as his tedious job demands. It is very obvious that the President is no longer in London of his own free volition, even if he ever was at some point. Someone should please beg the Good Samaritans to allow the President receive his medical treatment in peace and hopefully recuperate handsomely and adequately. Only his immediate family should be allowed access to him at this moment. The visitors actually make it look like they are on an espionage mission to ascertain the true state of the President’s health in order to plot, position and manipulate what seems an impending power game, sooner or later. At the very best of intentions, the visits represent a free photo opportunity for the new and sudden emergency friends of Buhari.

Where’s the coterie of acolytes who fell over themselves to display unsolicited affection when the President was sick and flown to Saudi Arabia? If President Buhari is in perfect condition, as his ubiquitous media handlers want us to believe, they should allow him enjoy his vacation and return home when he pleases instead of fighting over the pages of newspapers and the airwaves singing discordant notes on how he may arrive today or tomorrow or claiming that his return is delayed by the uncompleted servicing of the Presidential jet when there is more than one such jet and, in any case, it is not a crime to charter a private jet on this one occasion, or beg one of his wealthy party members or friends to send a comfortable plane to pick him up and return him home in perfect comfort. I’m sure they would be too happy and proud to do him that favour. Also, I know it is easier for the NTA to do a regular live broadcast from London whenever our President misses home to assure us there is no cause for alarm. The President and his team seem to forget the importance and pre-eminence of the ordinary Nigerian citizen in all this debacle. They elected the President.  He is answerable to them.  It is to them he needs to turn to in order to allay their fears about his health and rumoured death. He can do this by even a one minute video broadcast.

What we are witnessing right now is a negation of what Buhari ever stood for. Our President was known to be a man of very modest means and humble existence. His attraction during the campaigns and what made him readily sellable to majority of Nigerians was the abhorrence of ostentatious living as well as adherence to a disciplined and Spartan life. Many observers are wondering what has gone wrong that our President seems to have become totally oblivious to happenings around him. Nigerians trusted and still trust President Buhari.  He should not let his supporters lead him astray and betray that trust. He must continue to show that he knows that he is accountable to the people first and foremost and the only way to do this is to come clean about his state of health and when his doctors say he can return, whether now or later.

This is certainly not the loud change we promised Nigerians two years ago. There is defalcation, decay and decadence everywhere. Budgets are still being padded left right and centre. Atrocious sums are apparently being spent on frivolities while Nigerian workers are gnashing their teeth everywhere. Our airports remain as hopeless as ever, nearly two years into the life of this government. We are still dishing out endless excuses about why provision of adequate electricity supply has remained rocket science in Nigeria. Government officials continue to run abroad for medicals in flagrant disobedience of instructions to stay at home. The voodoo economists have not been able to arrest the freefall of the naira against the American dollar. The list of woes is ad infinitum. This is DEFINITELY not what we assured our people when we went on the blistering attacks against President Goodluck Jonathan and his carpetbaggers.

We knew the journey won’t be easy but didn’t expect it to be this bad. There are some basic things that should have been easily fixed in one year of active governance. We should have put elevators and escalators in our airports. The jetways at Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos should have been modernised and upgraded. The odoriferous washrooms and the stench that oozes and welcomes citizens and visitors to Nigeria should have been permanently sanitised and deodorised. There is no basis for arguing these facts. Some of those saddled with the task of helping Buhari achieve his lofty dreams have failed the man and their country, and even God. I picked on those simple and visible projects in order to show the hopelessness of our situation despite the loquacious change we bandied two years ago. If I were to embark on more important things, I would weep uncontrollably and probably not complete this piece, especially, as I crisscross many poorer and less endowed African countries and marvel at their inspiring productivity. It is that bad! Are we to blame Jonathan again for the miserable states of our airports and the pitiable conditions of our infrastructure?

The solution is not farfetched as I have preached for many years. A nation that sacrifices its best brains on the altar of ethnic balancing, religious sensitivity, greed and avarice, nepotism and jingoism can never prosper. What we need to do urgently is to reverse the dangerous drift towards perdition. We all know the solution to our calamitous problems but are too timid and irrational to take on our challenges. We are surrounded by seat-warmers and unrepentant gamblers who treat our dear beloved country like one big casino.

Only God can rescue us, if it is not too late.