THE RESOLUTION OF THE KOGI HOUSE ON A FORMER MINISTER
The Kogi House of Assembly, in a move never witnessed before in this country, passed a resolution on May 26, 2010, that has managed to escape the attention of the press. In its plenary session on that day, the house passed a resolution to appeal to the President, Goodluck Jonathan "to consider giving the former Minister of State for Health, Hon. (Arch) Gabriel Yakubu Aduku, a national position, having been discharged for lack of evidence on corrupt charges brought against him by the EFCC at the Appeal Court and Supreme Court respectively." The resolution which followed a motion moved by Hon. Emmanuel Omebije was anchored on the need to preserve our fledgling democracy. According to him, one of the pillars of good democratic process is the respect for due process and rule of law and that is one of the key components of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, with the judiciary given the role of ensuring that the rule of law is clearly manifested in all aspects of government. It was the contention of the Kogi House of Assembly that the federal government can use the Aduku example to demonstrate that honesty and transparency will not go unrewarded, hence their appeal contained in the resolution that Aduku deserves a second chance.
But what is the Aduku example that made the House of Assembly to pass the resolution? And why is the Aduku case so different from others? For the benefit of people who may not have followed the story of this former Minister of State for Health, a recap may be necessary. Chief Gabriel Aduku, an indigene of Kogi State, was appointed a minister of State for Health at the inception of the Umaru Yardua administration in 2007, but less than a year in office, the duo of Gabriel Aduku and Adenike Grange, the substantive minister for Health, alongside other senior civil servants in the ministry were accused of sharing 300 million naira, unspent budgetary allocations, contrary to presidential directives. They were subsequently arrested, detained and arraigned in the High Court in Abuja but Chief Aduku was discharged for lack of evidence. When he was rearrested and charged before the same court, Aduku appealed to the Appeal Court. The Appeal Court also discharged Aduku that he had no case to answer.
This led the EFCC to head to the Supreme Court but the Supreme Court in a ruling in November, 2009, discharged Chief Aduku that he had no case to answer.
It was based on the above that the Kogi House of Assembly took the initiative in pleading with the President to act in order to prove to Nigerians that the fight against corruption is not punitive and that the innocent people in our midst will not suffer for wrongful allegations and prosecution. In the history of our current democracy, no state house of assembly has ever come out boldly to defend a citizen of corruption. So, why did the Kogi House of Assembly consider it of national interest to pass such a resolution? The answer is not far-fetched. According to the motion moved by Hon. Omebije "Whereas Arch. Chief Gabriel Yakubu Aduku OON, a former Minister of State for Health is an illustrious son of Kogi State, an astute politician of repute who through his handwork and transparent honesty in all ramification has earned a prestigious title of Amana Ogohi 1 Attah Igala.
He is a major pillar to the growth and development of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party in Kogi State and across the country. He has served the state and the nation in different capacities particularly his appointment as the Minister of State under the administration of the late President, His Excellency, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua" He further moved that "What can we say of the reputation that is unjustly damaged by the illegal action of EFCC which took him several years to build? What can we say of the embarrassment and inhuman humiliation he was subjected to by the cabals? We have every cause to thank God for the steadfastness of the courts who at each attempt gave him judicial immunity" He further argued that the innocence of Chief Aduku at all levels of the trials has earned for Kogi State an icon of honesty among states of the federation.
The Kogi House of Assembly is not a lone ranger in the assessment of Aduku as a loyal, trusted, honest and dependable politician. The Kogi East chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria has also lent their voice to the Aduku debacle. In their words, where there is zero tolerance for corruption, the story would be incomplete if it is not balanced by zero tolerance for injustice and oppression of the oppressed "Zero tolerance for corruption should be matched by 100% appreciation and reward for incorruptibility and all that is opposite of corruption" To further underscore the fact that Aduku is a core grassroots politician who has impacted significantly on all sections of the community in Kogi, the Kogi East chapter of CAN said of the man "our brother, Elder Arc. G. Y. Aduku is a committed follower of God whose house and other properties are left at the common use of the brethren."
It is indeed at the point of excruciating trials that a man can be judged if he is truly, to borrow from the title of a novel by Chinua Achebe, a man of the people. Unlike most politicians who do not dwell among their people except when elections are fast approaching, Aduku, a past president of the Nigerian Institute of Architects and Architects Registration Council of Nigeria a member of several laudable professional bodies around the world, is the quintessential politician who is always in the midst of his people. Little wonder then that the Kogi Elders Forum also identified with him in his hour of need "We do sympathize with you on the embarrassment and humiliation you must have been made to go through these past months, and wish that you consider all that had transpired as the burden leaders have to bear at one time or the other. You should therefore never get discouraged but be stronger in the faith you have in Nigeria" Speaking in the same vein, the highly respected Attah Igala, Dr Aliyu O. Obaje CFR said he was convinced that his subject whom he knows intimately would come out of the trials unscathed "I have no doubt in my mind that with your hard work and transparent honesty which earned you the title of Amana Ogohi, you will be vindicated."
From the foregoing attestations from his state, it is obvious that Aduku is not a man without honour in his home. He is widely respected at home and beyond. It is in men such as Aduku that you find a politician who has the clout and tremendous goodwill to deliver his constituency in any free, fair and credible elections. That explains why he has been courted for several decades by different political blocs in the country. He has electoral value. Politicians in the mould of Aduku are rare to come by and the former president of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari is one of those who know that Aduku is an impeccable political asset "I am delighted to receive the good news from the Supreme Court Order which exonerated you from the allegations of fraud and conspiracy, prosecuted by the EFCC. We thank God for sparing our lives to see the end of the rigours and the dilemma of this unfortunate situation. What remains is the task before you and all your well-wishers to see the restoration of your honour and dignity by all concerned."
The federal government’s fight against corruption will get a massive boost by the restoration of the honour and dignity of this former minister who was wrongly accused while still in office. By identifying with Aduku, the administration will also be seen as one that does not abhor injustice and abides by the tenets of the rule of law. It is only the federal government that can restore fully the honour and integrity of this humble man whose reputation received a serious battering in the course of his service to his fatherland. The President should accede to the request made in the resolution of the Kogi House of Assembly and the voice of well meaning Nigerians such as former president, Shehu Shagari on the Gabriel Aduku issue.