​(In) Justice In Our Penal System: Evans Vs Corrupt Public Servants By Abiodun Ladepo

Without one of those spoilt, narcissistic Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) who specialize in advocating for white-collar criminals standing by him, Chukwudumeje George Onwuamadike, also known as the celebrity kidnapper Evans, narrated to the media how he kidnapped people. We got to know the entire modus operandi. I bet you, given enough time, he will tell us more…everything from how he selected his targets, to how he studied their lifestyles, how he selected the dates and times for the kidnap operations, reconnoitering and selecting the intended routes, recruiting the right accomplices for the operations, deciding what types of weapons, modes of transportation and signs and signals he shared with his crew for whether to proceed with or abort operations.

Given enough time, Evans will tell us what post-operation meetings (After-Action Review?) looked like. Did they burn vehicles used in the operations? Did they shut off or throw away all the phones they had with them? Did anybody get wounded? Did anybody die? What were the health conditions of the victims? How much were the victims really worth? How were the ransoms collected? What were the sharing formulas? And how were the monies kept or spent without triggering suspicion in the community?

Evans would tell you all these not because he has suddenly been overwhelmed by a sense of contrition, or that the Holy Ghost has taken control of his dark heart and lodged there to cleanse it, or simply out of the goodness of his heart. He has been singing like a canary and will continue to sing like that because he has undergone (and is probably still undergoing) some of the most “creative” interrogation techniques in the whole world. No, I do not know for sure if that went on, or is going on. I just know, by taking a close look at his face, seeing his bloodshot eyes, his swollen red face and overall countenance, that he has faced the kind of interrogation techniques that Musiliu Obanikoro, for instance, did not face while being questioned for alleged corruption.

You probably know a thing or two about “creative” interrogation techniques…those that violate some of the articles of the Geneva Convention to which Nigeria has long been a signatory; those that could cause a country to be seen as a pariah by the rest of the civilized world, and bring the government official violators before the International Court of Justice at The Hague for human rights violations. The “good” thing about those kinds of interrogation techniques is that they make you confess fast and deep. You may even confess to crimes you did not commit!

Now, let me state without any equivocation that I do not think Evans has confessed to crimes he did not commit. In fact, he has confessed and given us proof of his sadistic crimes. There is no question Evans is one of the most depraved and despicable entities to have walked the face of this earth. There is no question he put innocent people through untold anguish by depriving wives of their husbands, children of their fathers; siblings of their siblings and friends of their friends. There is no doubt he robbed people of their hard-earned incomes and stripped them of their dignities in the most heartless and brutal ways, killing some in the process of snatching them against their will. And there is no question the man belongs in a fiery furnace, thrown in there while still alive, and left to immolate until his ashes are completely burnt too.

But just as Evans represents the worst kinds of human beings, so do some of our public servants represent the dregs of our society. The difference though is that rather than vilify the white-collar criminals like we are doing to Evans now, we celebrate them. We rankadede them when they show up in our communities in their bedecked clothes and accouterments. We trot after their sleek SUVs. We hold them in awe, drooling with admiration when their private jets land at our airports. We troop to their mansions to eat the crumbs off their tables. We never challenge them for the crimes they have committed against us…crimes with far more devastating and lasting consequences on us as a nation and as individuals. We can’t challenge them because we can never know with the kind of clarity, lucidity, and forthrightness (albeit forced) that Evans confessed to his sins. We can never know because we will never subject them to “creative” interrogation techniques.

Or will we ever strip Bukola Saraki naked; slap tight handcuffs on his hands, clasp leg-chains on him, and deny him sunlight, food, water, shelter from cold, shelter from heat, shelter from mosquitos? Will we ever subject him to marathon questioning where we get to change interrogators to give them a break but not give him any break in order to sustain weeks-long sessions and any time he dozes off, we beat the living crap out of him? Will we ever introduce a flaming rod to his private part? Will we ever introduce a hammer to his fingers and toes? Will we ever simulate drowning him? Will we ever do any of the above to him while questioning him about the allegations he faces?

When you took a look at Sambo Dasuki’s face, did you see any evidence of “creative” investigation techniques? What about that of Rabiu Kwankwaso? What about Alex Badeh’s face? What about Femi Fani-Kayode’s face? What about Stella Oduah’s face? What about Patience Jonathan’s? What about Adesola Amosu’s? And these are people against whom some of the most “fantastic” corruption allegations in the history of Nigeria have been made. Some of them have never even been arrested, let alone interrogated. Some of them have admitted to stealing (way more than Evans has stolen violently) and have started to return their loot to a government. But we don’t see them as terrible people in the same way we see Evans, even though they may have hurt our very beings beyond repair if some of the crimes against them are ever proven to be true.

Hundreds of women die monthly during childbirth because hospitals do not have the equipment to monitor their and their babies conditions, with funds meant for equipping the hospitals having been embezzled by public servants. We don’t see that as worse than what Evans did because we have not subjected the public servants to the process of atonement, the kind that Evans faced. Boko Haram successfully carved out a “country” for itself in Nigeria’s northeast, butchering thousands of innocent and poor civilians, kidnapping and raping hundreds of young school girls and Nigeria’s military could not defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity because some eminent Nigerians diverted to their pockets funds meant to arm the military. We don’t see that as a crime worthy of the kind of burn-in-a-ferocious-furnace punishment that I recommend above for Evans?

What about those death traps we call roads? What about those coffins we fly as aircraft…with funds for their maintenance having been cornered by the politicians we eulogize? What about our children’s future being taken from them when tertiary education has been priced out of their reaches?

The list is endless. We see and feel every day the litany of crimes committed against our humanity by the people we revere, trust and respect. But we have inoculated ourselves against the sense of justice, proportion and fairness in apportioning punishment to the point that we lynch a hungry man who steals a loaf of bread while saluting the public servant who steals our billions. We subject to public opprobrium and humiliation the common criminal while 50-plus Senators, 100-plus SANs, shameless media advisers, pliant prosecutors who intentionally sabotage their own cases and morally debased judges all conspire to free the highly-placed criminals. The war against corruption will fail unless we have a level playing field…the kind of field on which we played Evans; the kind of playing field that will serve as deterrence for our super-corrupt public servants.

Abiodun Ladepo

Ibadan, Oyo State

Oluyole2@yahoo.com

Dear Acting President Osinbajo, Saraki Is Coming, Act Fast!, By Akin Fadeyi

“Nelson Mandela was an extra ordinary human being. He put a strong “truth and reconciliation” committee together. He was not insulting everyone and anyone. It earned him global respect.

“Leadership matters when you want to heal a divided nation. Donald Trump hurls abusive speeches at every perceived opposition in sight and that has greatly damaged America”.

These were very punchy and incisive comments of Ed Luce, Financial Times‘ chief commentator on Fareed Zakaria GPS on the night of Sunday June 18, 2017.

The opening topic was on why GOP Congressman and Louisiana Rep, Steve Scalise, was shot by an obviously disgruntled 66 year old American who had nursed disgust for Donald Trump’s style of racially divisive politics. James T. Hodgkinson was lurking in dark shadows like an untamed reptile. He struck before anyone could cage him and dealt a great blow not through the injury caused Scalise but actually to the ideals of diversity America once proudly represented.

I have written against Donald Trump before, describing him as a “bad dream for a fragile world”.

But nonetheless, I love Trump because he is down to earth, sometimes recklessly though, but again, you cannot fault his unconventional radicalised Republican brand of politics. Hate him all you like, he has millions of followers who look up to his “rascally” tweets. In a democracy with all its faults, it is figures that still count. Trump seems to have the figures, albeit within a nation now beleaguered by naked hate and prejudice.

Having said this, there are learnings to pick from Fareed’s GPS guests’ stance that a nation is full of divergent political interests, social alignments and cultural leanings; and therefore, you cannot be insensitive to the feelings of the led as a leader.

In terms of Nigeria, I have no doubt the acting president, Yemi Osibajo is probably genuine in his efforts at harmonising various positions in this nation and bridging the divides. The same Sunday on Channels TV, I saw his rapprochement with South-East Leaders. He has been to Cross River; and a few days ago, he hosted the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to a very private meeting at the Villa.
Osinbajo is writing some plausibly good history as a strong believer in a compact Nigeria. Awesome.

But let me give the acting president a piece of advice. David Blankenhorn, activist and president of “Better Angels” does something for America that Osinbajo needs to do in Nigeria. His organisation brings grassroots people together, despite their political differences. His organisation believes people can get angry at each other, debate emotionally against each other, but they must all be heard with a sole focus on nation-building and genuine national healing. He strongly recommends a public square engagement.Another guest on Fareed’s GPS warned against “dehumanising” Steve Scalise’s shooter, James Hodgkinson and painting him totally evil. He describes the shooter as a symbolic representation of certain hurt, frustrated and shattered feelings after Trump shaped America’s political narrative with racial colourations. He wants this hush-tone section of the nation to be heard, understood and brought back to the mainstream.

The acting president, at this stage, cannot engage with elites and leaders alone while assuming that the real agitators are committing heresy. The anger and agitation is down here, Mr. Acting President. I doubt those “leaders” have the ears of the crowd you are trying to rein in. If they did, IPOB would not arise, OPC will not flourish and Arewa Youths would never have issued an ultimatum.

The acting president must necessarily open up strategic and far-reaching processes of honest and robust engagements, where every tribe is allowed to openly express where and how they have been hurt. Where no tribe feels superior to the other. Where citizens will now believe and trust the government. Where leadership is handed to competence and not federal character, but is also well managed within the delicate thresholds of our interests and diversities. Where federal government vacancies are not presumably filled up “already by their children” despite paid advertorials. The government must identify with the genuine youth who want to discuss without angling or positioning themselves for pecuniary gains. Many “youth leaders” seize the microphone and utter gibberish once they have access to the media. The job of identifying the truly aggrieved and the honestly prepared in national discourse must be factored into our engagement template.

The executive, I dare say, must confront our fears and maybe revisit the national confab report which is about to evolve into a nuisance-value boobytrap that ex-President Jonathan inadvertently put in place for this administration.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo must carefully manage how he serves into the hands of the NASS, whose members are now demanding for the consideration of the 2014 confab report, without falling naively for a populist goal about to be scored against the presidency. The presidency has conceded many of these recently.

I am still in doubt over what the underlying motive of our senators are. If it is positive, then that is great for Nigeria. Not a few, though, will be pleasantly surprised. On Channels TV a few days ago, even the then confab chairman, Senator Femi Okunrounmu expressed reservations about the National Assembly’s sudden interest in the report, so soon after Senate president, Bukola Saraki was let off the hook in a no-case submission and acquittal by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which Professor Itse Sagay has been losing sleep over. For the NASS to now open the books of the confab report, this will be a masterstroke move to “buy-the-public” applause in a political chess game. But hey, who would not like to us to discuss the issues tearing us apart for which we have been living in denial? In-here lies why the National Assembly might trounce the Executive once again, and in a silly manner too. If Saraki organises a national grassroots forum today for these discussions, he would have a huge crowd. The presidency must act fast – they either play this game or glide painfully into public irrelevance.

Overall, we must all mean well for this nation no matter which desk we occupy. Corruption is still a damning monster and it is actually getting brazenly bold. Leaders should visit social media occasionally and find out the huge extent to which the people have lost faith in the government’s anti corruption fight. We must go back to the drawing board and re-strategise. The acting president should read the Chatham House report where a holistic approach involving grassroots behavioural change is recommended as a great tool for tackling corruption.

We must patriotically work towards building a nation where no one sees any other person as inferior. Where Yorubas don’t feel Hausas are “hungry for power” and where Igbos don’t feel “Yorubas can’t be trusted”. I have met fantastic Northerners, civilised Igbos and golden-hearted Yorubas. Those dividing us don’t mean well for us. Their intentions are not beyond their ambitions.

This country is beautiful and holds a promise: But the frank realities confronting us cannot be skirted over. Doing so may damage us irredeemably.

Shall I say, God bless Nigeria? For those who believe there’s some God somewhere; and an ‘amen’ might mean a lot at this critical moment in our nation’s history.

Akin Fadeyi is Convener of the Not In My Country Project.

How Much Of Your Neighbor Do You Really Know : Evans And The Rise Of The Invisible Neighbor By Louis Odion

Mathew Hassan Kukah (MHK) perhaps best framed a key ethical question bogging the contemporary society with collapsing values. To reclaim the moral boundary, the engaging Catholic Bishop once argued that it is no longer enough for the cleric to expressly grant request by a congregant to bless their endeavor out of shared ecumenical spirit without first ascertaining its nature.
To gloss over such little details is to risk donating the ecclesiastical seal to an undertaking likely to fail the integrity test, thus inadvertently allowing the impression to be created that mere sprinkling of “holy water” could confer the same hygiene outlaws usually crave in seeking to have their loot laundered. And in case such “enterprise” turns out to be less than licit, the shepherd stands as condemned as that calculating Pharisee.

Of course, we can take liberty to assume that implied in MHK’s sermon is also a frown at pastors who readily demand and accept gifts of private jets or limousines from their “spiritual children” who, in reality, were no other than those already officially certified as fuel subsidy thieves or vampires sucking crude oil from the nation’s pipelines.

Today, against the backcloth of the fabulous revelations since last Saturday of the exploits of kidnap king, Chukwudi Onuamadike (a.k.a Evans), MHK’s words could not be more pungent.

Until he met his Waterloo, Evans would easily have passed as a celebrity next door. He possessed and flaunted all that are now discounted as the only success indicators by our increasingly materialistic society: big houses at home and abroad, front-row seats at the temple, big cars, big titles, big family often on foreign holidays, etc.

At his upscale estate, neighbors recall he was the perfect resident. He paid his dues promptly even though he avoided community meetings like a plague. Watching him driving by in exotic automobiles or power bike, many must have eyed him with envy, wishing God put them in his shiny shoes.

At the car wash, he would sit inside his wonder-on-wheels with the engine running while the cleaning lasted.

In his village, we read about his step-brother describing him in flattering terms as “nice, kind-hearted guy”.

We also read of fat envelopes donated by him to charity homes and temples of worship.

One account (though unconfirmed) states he was arrested and arraigned in court earlier this year alongside his wife but, predictably, soon bought his way to freedom.

But what many must still find most puzzling is how a man dreaded for sowing fear and terror across the land for years, almost thought invincible as to warrant the police placing big bounty on head, would eventually be found not in a fortress or catacomb, but at a regular tenement.

This could in part be attributed to the dysfunctionality of the three socializing agencies: family, the neighborhood and those sociologists describe as “the significant others”.

That Evans could inhabit Magodo for so long and remain invisible is a reflection of the new reality in our big cities. Everyone is in a hurry. People rush out even before dawn in pursuit of a living. On return at dusk, they are mostly too broken by the pressure at work, agonizing over what awaits them the next day. By weekend, most prefer to remain indoors, lying in bed more or less, trying to recover the breath they lost during the past grueling working days.

In place of old-fashioned hearty chatter in neighborhood recreational parks over drinks, we now find it more convenient to set up WhatsApp conference on the go. Social media platforms are taking the place of the clubs and confraternities of old as the new socializing venues. Phone calls are replacing physical visits. Fawning symbols contrived by computer are now accepted as substitute for the bonhomie of old, that throaty human laughter in real life. Territorial boundaries have collapsed.

So, over time, the big paradox unfolds: neighbors grow into strangers even when social media is supposed to bridge distance. While rapid urbanization is robbing our communities of their soul, technology is increasingly rendering our humanity impersonal.

Only that could explain why no one still seemed to have taken notice of sneaky Evans in Magodo even three years after the police placed a ransom on his head. In the days gone by when intimacy defined the community, Evans would not have been able to hide for so long. Neighbors were each other’s keeper. Suspicion would have easily arisen if anyone chose to step out of line.

Once upon a time, when three or four people were gathered, someone was bound to break the ice soon. But not any more. Today, rather than chat up an acquaintance at a public space, we would rather now spend the time fondling our phone devices – texting or browsing.

In a way, the concept of society has changed. Instagram, Facebook and other cyber platforms constitute the new society. Seamless as access could be, the values are false, the language vile. They have become arena to show off.

It used to be said that when your yam harvest was bountiful, shared communal sense of proportion dictated that the news be hoarded, if not entirely hidden. Today, we all seem in a hurry to even exaggerate our worth on social media as if modesty has become a cardinal sin. We glory in spending what we don’t earn.

It explains why soon it took only few moments after Evans was paraded Monday for pictures of his brood to surface online, oozing opulence. Though the source was not stated, it is most likely to be screen-grab from either Instagram or Facebook entry. Such is the perversion of the new society.

On the other hand, family failure is undoubtedly illustrated in Evans’ evolution from a petty thief to becoming the czar of the underworld. According to reports, his parents knew he was into crime and unwittingly aided and abetted him by keeping silence.

At least, his father reportedly admitted his son once told him he was into drug trafficking. While the mom was said to know of the kidnappings but never gave her blessings.

Planning, conducting reconnaissance and executing kidnaps on Evans’ scale and keeping victims for months, evading security dragnet, definitely require uncommon intelligence. If only Evans deployed his in a positive way.

Parental deficit of the Onuamadikes could be situated in the context of what is now commonly termed the “micro-wave” parenting model. It consists of the abdication of responsibility by the authority figures at home often under the excuse of pursuing daily bread.

When the parents cannot meet the family’s basic needs, they often end up forfeiting their voices all together at home. When a son without visible source of likelihood brings home brand new SUV or undergraduate daughter begins to flaunt the next generation I-phone, how many parents still possess the moral authority to ask questions?

Surely, the bottom of sudden wealth is often very murky indeed.

Overall, more poignant questions certainly await the Onuamadikes. Apart from possible tepid reprimands uttered understandably beyond the earshot of a third party or immersion in the usual “fasting and prayer”, what other concrete steps did they take to really wean their ward off the life of crime early in the day?

A parent who cherishes the family’s good name, is conscious of the inevitability of Karma and un-desirous of eternal shame would not have quickly thrown up their hands in cheap surrender.

Even more abominable is the role of the wife. Evans reportedly confessed that his spouse sometimes cashed the ransom on his behalf. Could he have lied to her on the real nature of his “business”? But it would have been humanly impossible for her to remain in the dark all these years while her hubby rolled in billions without an office address.

The only logical conclusion to make under the circumstance is that she knew about all the secrets trips, the nocturnal calls and why the bales of dollars bore bloodstains. We are then let into the grotesque shadow of Jezebel and Saphira rolled into one. And then, what sort of business could they been telling their children daddy was doing?

Again, what sort of a woman – a mother of five at that! – would happily go to bed with and wake beside a devil like Evans each morning? And she was not scared of having her children trained with such blood money? We can only pray the iniquities of the evil couple don’t come back to haunt the little children who must be treated as innocent in the circumstance.

As for the “significant others”, the guilt list will certainly stretch from the social circuits to the conclave of miracle merchants and allied specialists who partook of Evans’s tainted dollars. He often introduced himself as “international businessman”. Nigerian ambassador to Ghana reportedly attended a shindig once held in his honor in Accra.

Evans also reportedly confessed that he gave fantastic donations in form of offering to churches, thereby implicating pastors in his web of sin. What then remains is for him to name all his spiritual fathers – both orthodox and traditional – who collected dollars in appreciation of “special prayers” or ritual sacrifice to help him either beat police traps or evade arrests all these years.

Then, you can be sure many in cassocks across the west coast will be losing sleep in the times ahead.

This leads us back to MHK’s golden charge. More would certainly be achieved if more and more of our pastors, imams and traditional priests join in helping to enshrine a custom that dishonors wealth which provenance is either suspicious or unknown. No more recognition or glorifying so-called business moguls of no visible merchandise and who purports to run an office without an identifiable address.

Of course, that will only mean massive pay-cut for many self-styled prophets. Recall the story of a popular Lagos-based prosperity pastor implicated in the theft by a church member sometime ago. The latter was found out by his employer in the hospitality industry to have systematically stolen tens of millions of Naira as account clerk.

He later confessed to the police that more than half of his loot was donated to his church either as offering or “seeds”. He said each time the pastor made an altar call for “anyone blessed or expecting miracles” to sow a seed, he was often over-powered by a spirit to give and give.

The bigger shocker came when the implicated pastor was eventually confronted. While not denying receipt of millions and a giant generating set, he categorically ruled out the possibility of a refund even after it became clear the source was unclean.

So, the impression invariably created in public mind could be put roughly as this: were Judas Iscariot to offer ten percent of his infamous 30 shekels of silver to that same pastor, it would be game as well.

Such is the new ethical bind we now have to deal with.

Now, a little quiz for the day: how much of your neighbor do you really know?

Dumb And Dumber: Nigerians And Their Leaders By Charles Odimgbe

I have come to the realization that Nigerian leaders are dumb, and we the citizens are even dumber. With the news media replete with news of the mindlessness, self-aggrandizement, looting, pillaging and personal enrichment by our politicians, we the citizens just talk about it and bury our heads in the sand as if this too shall come to pass. With the economic recession biting so deeply into the lives of the average person, our leaders put on blinders while we seem to have resigned to our faith that nothing is going to change. Rather than focus on getting our system right, we engage in all kinds of vices as shortcut to make ends meet. In the papers, every day, you read about ritual killings, armed robbery, kidnapping, killings by our so called protective forces, conflicts and clashes between the cattlemen and farmers. You hear about politicians making crass and insensitive statements that make you scratch your head and go “huh”? What do we do in response? We engage prayer warriors and flock in thousands to fake churches, hoping that God will come down from heaven and rescue us.

The fight against corruption is almost dead due to lack of support, tribalism, partisanship, and an inept as well as unethical judicial system that makes no sense. It is amazing that after one year of fighting corruption, we have nothing to show but court appeals and counter appeals.

Nigeria’s purported annual budget designed to help the country out of recession remains unimplemented for one reason or another. If the fight against corruption, as some argue, is tilted, with the All Progressives Congress (APC) only investigating and prosecuting members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), so be it! Hell, if or when the PDP comes to power, they will have the opportunity to investigate and prosecute APC members – and that is if they will ever get their act together enough to regain the center.

We watch as errant Governors make pronouncements that border on treason, separatist movements agitating for their own destinies, as if it is a cure-all for our woes. Our elected representatives enact state laws that fly against the constitution, and federal laws that trample on the state rights and the rights of the common man. We have no electricity but still pay our electric bills every month. No basic amenities such as roads, water, sewer and drainage systems, but pay all kinds of dues as part of Internally Generated Revenue, to our leaders to divert for their own personal benefits. We read how much monies our leaders arrogate to themselves, how they convert public property and vehicles for personal use, how they donate public funds to their preferred personal projects, and award contracts to their friends and cronies who are barely qualified to execute such projects. The Internet is saturated with gruesome and unsavory images of dead bodies caused by accidents, lynching by angry mobs for unsubstantiated and petty crimes, and people harvesting body parts for rituals. Many of our young women have now turned to prostitution as a survival mechanism – serving rich businessmen and politicians, while some young men have turned to kidnapping. Meanwhile their schools have remained as dilapidated as ever.

Every day, our leaders jet out to exotic cities, spending millions of dollars to vacation and to receive medical attention—even as Nigerian hospitals remain dilapidated and unmaintained. American presidents do not vacation or go overseas for medical treatment. They made sure that they have all they need within their shores to take care of themselves. Not Nigeria. We are content in reaping where we did not sow. It does not matter that the citizens that elected these dumb politicians are dying by the scores for ailments that could be cured by simple antibiotics, yet we stand and shout about whose political party is being victimized for embezzling our money.

The question would be, does our political elite not know about the state of the economy? Do they not see these gruesome images on the Internet? Do they not understand the impact of all these stolen monies on the economy and population at large? Do they not drive on these tattered roads with their 4-wheel drive vehicles? Do they not smell the stench coming from feces due to lack of functional sewer systems? Are they too blind to see the erosion eating away at our landscape due to lack of proper drainage system?

Do these political “leaders” not hear the cries of the masses, the dying, the infighting, and the confusion? Hell, yes, they do! They just don’t care. They have concluded that the masses they are charged with looking after are even dumber and that they could get away with anything regardless. That’s about the only way one could explain their illogical and immoral behaviors given the decay that Nigeria is facing today. The Nigerian elite is so dumb and arrogant they no longer understand that they are tied to the faith and future of that country. They the lack morals and foresight to understand that whatever the image of Nigeria is overseas, such is their image!

If our leaders are DUMB, we who elected them are even DUMBER! With our country failing, we bury our heads in the sand, talk politics all day, and pray all night. To cap it all, whatever little earning we have, rather than invest in worthwhile projects, we relinquish them to our churches while our children starve to death. We are dumber because we have failed to ask the right questions of our political elite or anyone in power. We lack so much self-esteem that we are content if anyone from our state is in power and gloat as if they were our blood relatives. No, it does not matter that this so-called attitude is negatively affecting our daily lives. No, all that matters is that the sense that we have someone in power. We hold on to that illusion even when we cannot feed our family today. We are so dumb and hence the reason we never ask ourselves why I should pay electric bill when I have no light? How long will that cup of rice, distributed by my senator, last for my family and me while the senator siphons all our monies overseas? Why do I need a governor and local officials when there are no roads, functional hospitals, storm drainage system or running water? All we do is pray, fast, complain everyday about how Buhari is Buharing every one.

Reinhold once said, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the courage to change the things that I can.” Nowhere did he ask God to do anything for him, only grant him the courage the change the things he could. Nigerians have no courage! We are all cowards! Our leaders have done a fine job of feeding us fish every day and now we cannot fish for ourselves. Change does not happen by divine intervention. Change happens because people got sick and tired of being sick and tired. However, Nigerians are never fed up, we hold onto this belief that one day a Chineke will come and rescue us. The question is why? An economist once opined that Nigeria is a country where the worst never happens but nothing ever gets better. That in a nutshell is a description of why we are still suffering and smiling. Our stupidity today has been confirmed! Even as things are getting worse, still we endure and shout fire, fire, fire every day. Well, we’ve got fire all right.

Today any separatist with a twitter is calling for the separation of the country. I ask myself why? If we are not able to manage this country Nigeria that was handed to us in tact by the British, what makes you think we could better manage it broken apart. The truth of the matter is that Nigeria has become a country of “chop-I-chop” and those advocating for a breakup of the country are simply perfecting a ruse for another set of greedy selfish persons to gain access and perpetuate the same pillaging we see today.

In my previous article “Buhari, Now What” I outlined how every person in that country has a role to play in our progress, but are we playing those roles. This is the time to start taking your country back. For starters, if the government does not supply you with electricity 75% of the time in a month, don’t pay the bill. What will they do, disconnect the light that you never had? Since the government has refused to provide us with proper road amenities, send a clear message to your elected officials and put them on notice that your vote is going to someone who will work to pave the roads! And mean it! Show your faces in the numbers and demand to know – it is your right. If you believe that paying a senator N250,000,000 a month is over the top, ask them to reduce it! Picket, demonstrate and rally peacefully. Inform your local representative that if those numbers do not change, he will be unemployed come election time. Having said all these, I venture to make one prediction. Nothing will happen. In Nigeria, our leaders are dumb and we the citizens are even dumber.

Buhari and The Enemy Within By Simon Kolawole

President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is seriously challenged. That is the truth and nothing but the truth. We can choose to play the Ostrich and sink our heads deep in the sand but then our nakedness is obvious from the back. The impression I am getting is that the factionalisation, or is it the fractionalisation, of Aso Rock has become so deep that except something drastic is done now, the damage may last even beyond the life of this administration. In my young life, I have never seen a Nigerian government so openly divided against itself as this one. This is ironic because Buhari is assumed to be a strong leader, at least as a man with military background.

I will ignore the miscommunication that often comes out of the mouths of the various government spokespersons because, even though it is dangerous, I am able to admit that these things happen in life. The mismanagement of information on the health of the president is so chaotic I would be tempted to classify it as a national security threat but I will still resist any such temptation for now. We have been through this before, specifically in 2009 when President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua fell terminally ill and the nation went into a meltdown before commonsense prevailed. The president’s illness has been better managed this time around, but it still leaves much to be desired.

My prayer for Buhari is that God will quicken his recovery so that he can be back on his feet again. But even before he fell ill, his government was already in disarray before his very eyes. My focus today will be on his security team. It is an open secret that his men are fighting each other and trying to outdo each other, but the most shocking thing, I would say, is that Buhari has not called them to order. Calling them to order is not just about telling them off at a meeting — it could mean sending some of his appointees packing. We are talking about state security here, not personal security or even State House security.

We were recently treated to the spectacle of the Department of State Services (DSS) opposing the nomination of Magu as the EFCC chairman. Magu was nominated by the president. The DSS, which reports to the president, wrote to the National Assembly asking that Magu should not be confirmed because of integrity issues. I could not imagine President Goodluck Jonathan nominating Mallam Ibrahim Lamorde as EFCC chairman and Mr. Ita Ekpeyong, his DSS DG, asking the senate not to confirm him. Or President Olusegun Obasanjo’s nomination of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu being opposed by Col. Kayode Are, his DSS DG. Something has fallen apart in this government.

If anyone is still in doubt that Buhari’s government is internally challenged, the recent raid on a “safe house” of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should provide the biggest evidence so far. From what we have heard so far, the NIA director-general, Ambassador Ayo Oke, rushed to the office of the EFCC chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, asking him to abort the operation on the Ikoyi apartment. He was said to have told Magu the circumstances surrounding the “safe house” but his entreaties failed. We are still waiting to be told how much Buhari knew about the warehoused funds and the “clandestine” projects.

It is no secret in government circles that Mr. Lawan Daura, the DSS DG, and Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), the national security adviser, barely see eye-to-eye. There are essentially two factions, and those who don’t belong to either camp are often caught in the crossfire. Monguno and Magu are aligned. It is understood that it was Monguno that recommended Magu to be EFCC chairman. The second divide is of Lawan and the army chief, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai. In the Lawan corner, it is believed that all negative media reports about the chief of staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, Buratai, and Lawan himself are orchestrated from the Monguno-Magu axis.

The irony of ironies, though, is that Monguno, Magu, Kyari and Buratai are all from Borno state. Can you believe it? They are all Muslims. They also speak Hausa as lingua franca. Going by the way we normally analyse issues of ethnicity and religion in Nigeria, these men should ordinarily be the tightest of friends and colleagues. They should naturally have a sense of unity. When they are in the same room, they should be able to talk some sense to each other. Buhari, who is half Fulani and half Kanuri and would be considered their kith and kin, should also be able to get these grown men to bury their egos and work together. Yet this sore has been festering for so long.

The ordinary Nigerian may not know the implications of this in-fighting. How can the heads of security agencies not be on speaking terms? Someone said there is also rivalry between CIA and FBI in America, and there is nothing strange about what is happening in Nigeria. This is a mistake. The CIA/FBI case is an institutional rivalry, often over areas of jurisdiction. What we are witnessing in Nigeria is a clash of egos. It has nothing to do with jurisdiction or national security. We just have top officials in Buhari’s team who despise each other so much they cannot bring themselves to be under the same roof. And the tragedy is that all this is happening with Buhari doing nothing.

The NIA issue perfectly illustrates the consequences of this discord in Buhari’s security team. Monguno, as national security adviser, is the chief co-ordinator of all security agencies. Security reports should go through him to the president. In truth, that is not the situation on ground. Also, before any major raid or search is conducted by a security agency, the NSA should be in the know. From what we were told, Oke briefed Monguno (in writing) on the “clandestine” projects NIA is undertaking in various parts of the country. Oke also reportedly briefed Monguno on the amount of cash in its possession for the completion of these projects.

If the information is accurate, did the EFCC conduct a raid on NIA’s property without pre-informing the NSA? If Magu indeed pre-informed Monguno, did he still give Magu the go-ahead to raid the “safe house” despite being aware that it is NIA’s? Would he do that? On the other hand, could it be that there is suspicion that the NIA funds, which were released by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, were really meant for the elections and the Ikoyi recoveries were the leftovers? There is a precedent after all — didn’t some of the funds meant for Boko Haram operations end up in the PDP presidential campaign? Is that why the apartment was raided? Questions gallore!

The Osinbajo panel must tell Nigerians the truth and the whole truth about the Ikoyi affair. There are too many questions and insinuations that cannot be swept under the carpet. I understand that the sensitive nature of intelligence operations may make things a bit difficult for us. There are several details that cannot be made public in order not to compromise what is supposed to be a covert operation. However, we deserve to know the non-sensitive bits. I am particularly interested in how much of this fiasco was caused by the in-fighting in Buhari’s security department. This may be doing a grievous damage to Nigeria’s security architecture.

Again, I pray for Buhari’s speedy recovery. But shaking up his security team — and even his cabinet — should be his priority when he resumes work. Nigeria is a country of 180 million people and he cannot allow our security and welfare to be toyed with because some big egos are clashing. This has gone on for too long. It is either Buhari calls them to order by reading them the Riot Act or he overhauls his team in favour of those who are ready to put the lives of Nigerians above every other consideration. As for the Ikoyi billions, I eagerly await how the government will come out of this self-inflicted embarrassment. Dicey.

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…

THE RUN OF PLAY

Olusegun Adeniyi, chairman of THISDAY editorial board and former presidential spokesman, has demonstrated again why he is clearly the master storyteller of Nigerian journalism with his latest book, Against the Run of Play. His post-mortem on the 2015 presidential election is delivered in a very simple style, with the voices of key actors enriching the narrative. The book refreshes the memory on the remote and immediate reasons for the ouster of President Goodluck Jonathan — and, for me, the hard lessons every politician must learn from the misadventure. And now, Jonathan is disputing some of what the politicians said in the book. Interesting.

CAGING KANU

It was heart-warming to hear that Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), has finally regained his freedom after spending 18 months in detention amid a barrage of legal fireworks. In trying to prove that it would protect the “territorial integrity” of Nigeria against secession agitations, the Buhari government has been exerting too much force, killing many peaceful pro-Biafra protesters in Onitsha. Nothing in this world can justify the shedding of innocent blood. Hopefully, the government will now obey court orders and release Sheikh Ibraheem El Zakzaky, the Shiite leader, and Col. Sambo Dasuki, the former NSA. Imperative.

OPPRESSING THE PRESS

And so, Punch reports on the state of health of the president and its State House correspondent gets humiliated and kicked out by the chief security officer. The dark days of military regimes in Nigeria are being replayed — in a supposed democratic setting. I recall, with sadness, how soldiers, under President Jonathan, attacked the distribution vans of newspapers. I recall how a Deutsche Welle reporter was expelled from the State House. Under President Jonathan, the independent press has continued to suffer indignity and attacks, starting with the barring of “opposition” AIT from covering Buhari’s activities in 2015 even before he was sworn in. Troubling.

THECABLE IS THREE

Thanks for your congratulatory messages as TheCable, the online newspaper I founded in 2014, clocked three yesterday. Our key promise is to deliver news and features with “speed and simplicity”. But as we have found out, the workload can kill! Luckily, we are blessed with a team of resourceful, energetic and extremely committed youngsters who work day and night to put TheCable ahead in newsbreak. Many think I write the stories in TheCable and I always joke with the team not to get jealous because I also get all the insults on social media! We know we are yet to fulfil all our promises, but we will get there someday. Appreciation.

Follow us on twitter @thecableng

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 .

​The Conviction Of Bala James Ngilari And Its Lessons By Okoi Obono-Obla

The conviction and sentence to five years imprisonment of a former Governor of Adamawa State, Bala James Ngilari by an Adamawa State High Court for his contravention of the Adamawa State Procurement Law in the award of a N167.8 million contract for the supply of 25 units of Toyota Camry 2.8 to a contractor known only to him is heart-warming and exhilarating.

The transaction was only known to the governor as no other government official knows about the transaction.

The Court rightly found Bala Ngilari guilty of 17 charges leveled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for awarding contracts without following due process.

The conviction came at the right time when some skeptics have impetuously and hurriedly dismissed the anti-corruption agenda of the present administration as a bluster.

In this war, there is no sacred cow. There is no retreat, no surrender! The war must be won!

This conviction undoubtedly is a pointer to the fact that the war against corruption is on course. This conviction is surely timely and indeed a lesson to politically exposed persons in government that there is a day of reckoning after public office. There is no longer any place to hide.

The trial of the case was fast-tracked and lasted for roughly five months. This is unprecedented in the history of criminal trials in a country, where the justice system is scandalously slow and laborious.

The Economic and Financial Crimes arraigned Ngilari on September 21, 2016, for violation of procurement laws in the award of contract of N167.8million to El-Yadi Motors Limited for the supply of 25 units of operational vehicles (Toyota Corolla), but by March 6th, 2017 judgment had been delivered.

I highly commend Honourable Justice Nathan Musa for showing such a high sense of commitment, industry, professionalism and diligence.

The Adamawa’s case is a manifestation that if the judicial arm of government is dedicated and up and doing, criminal matters against politically exposed persons can still be expeditiously and speedily heard and determined.

Judges should be firm and adopt a no-nonsense approach to adjudication. Judges must be masters of their courts and always exercise their discretion judiciously and judicially in refusing applications for frivolous adjournments from defense counsel. Judges should equally not tolerate prosecutors that are slop shoddy and not diligent, prosecutors should be professional and conscientious in carrying out their prosecutorial duties.

With the coming into force of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and its objective of ensuring speedy hearing and determination of criminal cases, we should not again be saddled with delays in the determination of cases in our courts if Judges do the needful.