Alex Badeh: Enough of This Vilification

By Samuel Ndubuisi

Nigerians are quick to pass judgment of guilt on any person suspected or alleged to have committed an offence even before a court of competent jurisdiction is yet to convict such person. This attitude has made nonsense the popular saying that a man is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

The recent trial of high profile cases by the present administration over alleged corrupt practices has generated a lot of interest and comments. While the accused are angling to prove their innocence, many Nigerians either out of malice, political gains or share ignorance have resorted to spreading rumours to increase public animosity against those currently facing trials.

The trial of Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh has not only become a subject of discussion even among people who have little knowledge of the case but also a subject for political propagandist who want to ride on the destruction of this man who gave thirty-five years of meritorious service in defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria.

Whatever issue that has become the subject of this case is a standard practice at the Nigeria Air force that Alex Badeh met as the Chief of Air staff. Zeroing on Badeh does not only reflect political vendetta but, also an orchestrated effort to ground the former air chief by those he may have offended in the course of discharging his duties.

The recent report published in page 2 of the Nation newspaper of Sunday 24th, April 25, 2016 titled "Badeh in a poignant struggle over learning and character" is well crafted to silence the voice of those that stand for Justice and fair play.

To the writer Badeh should not even be tried but rather sentenced without hearing; this to me is not good for democracy and for a Nation that is struggling to meet global best practices.

The claim that the revelations by the prosecution witness stunned the entire nation is part of the design to convict the air chief before judgment and also influence the trial. Going by the thought of the writer and maybe by extension those thinking in similar direction one cannot but sadly conclude that the media trial of the former CDS by the Federal Government is succeeding.

Whatever evidence the prosecution witness has given they cannot be said to be true until they are proven and verified. The defense in any court has a right to present its case and counter the claims by the prosecution witness. It would interest the writer and indeed many Nigerians to know that many of the so-called startling revelations made by the witness in court were not part of his statement at the EFCC.

While I would try as much as possible to resist the temptation from delving into ongoing court proceedings it is pertinent to let the writer know that the witness in the last two adjournments had not only contradicted himself but admitted that substantial evidence he gave in court were not part of his statement at the EFCC.

If it is easy for haters to continue to publish falsehood to create a complicated case for the accused; hiding under the law of freedom of expression, it is obviously right for those who think otherwise to express themselves to the public in order to clarify the issues thereby uprooting the seed of guilty or in the words of the writer lack of character being consciously or unconsciously planted in the minds of Nigerians.

In stating that Badeh’s achievements had nothing to do with the 10 count charge, the writer forgot to inform his readers that the EFCC's main witness in the case in a hand-written statement to the EFCC already stated that "quite a number of welfare and operational projects had been executed through such funds" referring to the 558million he earlier claimed he handed over to the ex CDS monthly.

Citing page 86 and 87 of the proof of evidence the witness wrote in his statement that "such projects include completion of NAF aeronautical Center, Construction of officer and air men accommodation, equipping NAF hospitals in Abuja, Lagos, Jos, Makurdi and Kano". How then can we talk about Badeh's trial without his achievements?

If Badeh's charges has no relations with his achievements, why then is the writer so worried about people being reminded of it. The tone of the piece suggests someone who is angry and has already convicted the accused. He obviously does not love the accused so can't possibly be directing the ex CDS, his "sympathisers and his friends" ‎on how best to present their case.

With what has happened so far, it is evident that what should be questioned is the character of the anti-graft agency than that of the ex CDS. In the piece the writer stated that his achievements had nothing to do with the 10-count charge he is facing in court, but also forgot to tell us if there's any relationship between the charges and the much publicised Dasukigate.

Talking about drawing public sympathy, the EFCC had earlier gone to press with the story that the former CDS was arrested in connection with diversion of money meant for the procurement of arms popularly tagged Dasukigate. It was widely celebrated in the media. Nigerians were however shocked to the marrows when the charges against the former CDS was read out in the court and no mention was made of it.

Lest we forget the former CDS was detained for over 2 weeks without being charged to the court.

Then comes, March 7 2016, the date slated for the arraignment of the ex CDS. Nigerians were once again shocked by the story of $1million allegedly found in Badeh's house "in the presence of his neighbours". It is curious to also note that over one month after the ‎discovery, the EFCC is yet to include anything relating to this discovery in the charge sheet.

Observers were of the view that the story was planted in some national dailies to further increase "the public angst" as ‎displayed by the writer.

The writer also failed to mention the fact that after the accused had met his bail conditions, the EFCC refused to do its part of independently veryfing and ascertaining the value of such properties. The EFCC refused to get back to the court within 24 hours in an attempt to delay the Ex CDS's freedom. However respite came to Badeh as Justice Okon Abang ruled that the court cannot be held to ransom by the EFCC as the defendants bail application was left to surfer while waiting for the commission to carry out a duty required of it by the law. The judge was forced to strike out that particular condition and ordered Badeh released from prison custody.

The question on people's lips was "why was EFCC so desperate to keep the accused in detention"

The EFCC were also quick to go to the press with their "discovery of 17 accounts belonging to the ex CDS without stating the amount found in the accounts like they usually do.

To those who care to listen I will not cease to emphasized that the former air chief is worthy in learning and in character until proven otherwise. For a man who rose through the ranks as an officer of the Nigerian Air force, held different elite positions and rose to be the Chief of air staff and Chief of defence Staff was not by error. Such a personality must have been certified as worthy to attain that height, unless the writer is of the opinion that the Nigerian military equally lack character.

Samuel Ndubuisi is of The New-Nigeria Patriots

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