Postscript: Adeyemi Ikuforiji – To everything under the sun, there is a season
As at 18th March 2014, a Federal High Court in Lagos was busy hearing the gory details of corruption and betrayal of public trust involving the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly and a potential gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr Adeyemi Ikuforiji. The disturbing case was adjourned to 28th April 2014 by Mr Justice Ibrahim Buba. To portray his nonchalance and indifference to the ongoing case, Mr Ikuforiji, on Saturday 22nd March 2014 at a sleepy rural town of Ketu-Ejirin in Epe division of Lagos State spent huge sums of money on a chieftaincy ceremony. His wife was equally made a chief of this town. Whilst congratulating Mr and Mrs Ikuforiji on their newly acquired chieftaincy titles, perhaps they would spare some moment to reflect on the ridiculousness of their recent act, its stupidity, manifest insult to Lagosians and Nigerians and the crudity of it all.
To underline the seriousness of the corruption case, as all cases involving betrayal of public trust and embezzlement of public funds should be, the same High Court, sometimes in June 2013, slammed a One billion Naira bail bond on Mr Ikuforiji, to be paid within 48 hours. Mr Ikuforiji was given the option of proceeding to the four walls of a penitentiary if the bail conditions were not met. The court initially set the bond at 5 billion Naira but later reduced it following pleadings by Mr Ikuforiji's lawyers. With his current travail, the least one would have expected of Mr Ikuforiji is at least a pretence at sombre dsiposition, if only to convey an impression of contrition. However, this is not to be for Mr Ikuforiji who chose the period of his inquisition to declare abundant extravaganza and further unwarranted and senseless expenditure of the state resources.
Whilst it is common knowledge that evil is king whilst common sense and good virtues have been thrown to the gutters in Nigeria, nevertheless, it smirks of unpardonable indiscretion and distaste for public opinion and feelings for Mr Ikuforiji to go ahead with a ridiculous chieftaincy ceremony at this period in time. It is also grossly irresponsible for a supposed king, in this case, the Alaketu of Ketu, Epe, to go ahead with the installation of a thief as a high ranking chief in his domain. The warped and obviously disdainful symbiotic intercourse between our traditional institutions and corrupt politicians, wherein one provides succour to the other, is further highlighted by this disgusting spectacle. Information has it that Mr Ikuforiji spent close to 100 Million Naira on this ludicrous ceremony. This included the 50 rolls of Ankara fabrics he gave to each member of the State's House of Assembly to mobilise their supporters to the ceremony. It was also reported that Lagos State footed the bill for this latest egomaniac trip of Mr Ikuforiji.
Apparently, the situation in our dear country is so bad that it required no extraordinary skill of clairvoyance to predict a natural course of events for corruption. Only a few days ago, I wrote a piece on Mr Ikuforiji titled: Adeyemi Ikuforiji - Just how much money does a man need in a lifetime? In this piece, I lamented on the culture of waste and embezzlement which characterises politics without exemption in Nigeria. I was particularly aghast at the effontery and shameless recklessness of Mr Ikuforiji. This apparently misguided and ill-advised Speaker of the state legislature has not learnt his lessons in life despite his dark past. Obviously a leopard would never shed its skin.
In September 2011, Sahara Reporters first brought to public attention the grilling meted out to Mr Ikuforiji by our anticorruption agency, the EFCC. In this report, EFCC Grills Lagos Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Over N7 Billion Fraud (http://saharareporters.com/news-page/efcc-grills-lagos-speaker-adeyemi-ikuforiji-over-n7-billion-fraud), many interesting aspects of Mr Ikuforiji came to light. Amongst others, Mr Ikuforiji has a shady past which included criminal convictions in the United States of America (USA). Available court records in the US implicated Mr Ikuforiji as follows:
1. First conviction in 2001 after his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol on April 22, 2001 in Wake County, North Carolina. His court record with case number 2001CR040190 shows that his residence then was 2116 Saturn Street, Raleigh, NC 27603.
2. Second conviction (indicating a gradual progression on the crime ladder) when in 2005 he was convicted again for a $22,731.00 credit card fraud he had committed in 2003. The Hennepin county district court records show that Ikuforiji as at the time he committed the crime lived at 9112 Yates Bay, Minneapolis MN55443. He was said to have duped the Columbia Credit Service Inc which reported him to law enforcement agents over the $22,731.00 fraud. He had lived with one Omolara Cole as his wife and Abdul as their son before their marriage was dissolved on August 30, 1999.He was eventually convicted on August 3rd, 2005 in case number 27-CV-05-009568.
Mr Ikuforiji also seemed to have suffered from a dubious identity problem as shown by the information below:
1. Ikuforiji whose records in the USA showed that he was born on August 15, 1958 however had a different story to tell about his life record to the institutions he claimed he attended in Romania.
2. In one of his school files in Romania, he claimed to have been born 0n August 24, 1954, yet in another Romanian school record, he claimed he was born on August 24, 1956.
3. Whilst contesting for the Epe Constituency 1 seat in the Lagos State House of Assembly in 2003, Mr Ikuforiji lied under oath in his INEC form CF001 submitted to the electoral body giving his date of birth as August 24, 1958. He also lied that he never had a criminal conviction.
4. To date, Mr Adeyemi Ikuforiji has offered four different dates of birth. Only God knows which is genuine.
In my earlier piece on Mr Ikuforiji, I wrote inter-alia:
'In the decadent Nigerian society, the likes of Mr Adeyemi Ikuforiji are the right candidates and suitable recipients of numerous chieftaincy titles, state and national honours. In a country where thieves are adorable and greed is idolised and honoured, the Ikuforijis are the role models for younger generations who are patiently waiting in the wing for their 'own turn and share of the national cake'. If not for the post he presently occupies, Adeyemi Ikuforiji would have been a member of the current Abuja jamboree termed National Conference and perhaps a recipient of the highest national honour Nigeria can confer - Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCRF). Thieves do indeed have honours in deranged societies'
I did not realise how prophetic those words were as barely few days later, Mr Ikuforiji rubbed salt on the injuries he and his ilk are actively causing Nigerians. I was dumbfounded when friends and folks at home intimated me of the vexatious and lavish chieftaincy ceremony. The present piece is not meant to be too long. It is just to portray to Lagosians and indeed Nigerians the depth of our decadence in this country. To Lagosians, here is the Speaker of your state legislature. A convicted fraudster being the chief lawmaker. To Nigerians, the sad tale continues, anything goes in our fatherland. Fraudsters have commandeered our politics and in conjunction with despicable retired Generals, have successfully hijacked our commonwealth. To Adeyemi Ikuforiji, the memorable words of Uthman dan Fodio becomes relevant: conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it. Indeed, to everything under the sun, there is a season. A time to be born and a time to grow. A time to steal and a time to be caught. A time ti be prosecuted. Posterity would not absolve a thief. And the judgement of history shall be worse than the temporal benefits of the moment.
To the outdated and over-rated traditional institutions in Nigeria, your gory and active participation in and encouragement of the despoliation of the land and suppression of the people shall invoke wrath worse than that of the last King of France. The guillotine shall not be sufficient. It is common knowledge that the tree of liberty will only thrive when watered with the blood of tyrants and comforters of oppressors.
Mr Ikuforiji comes from a suburban town called Epe where poverty still reigns supreme. The vast majority of indigenes of this town are fishermen who still rely on the ancient wooden canoe for their livelihood. Apart from constricting boreholes in few areas of the town and sending some indigenes of the town on pilgrimage to Mecca, Mr Ikuforiji has done precious little in terms of developmental projects for Epe. Ketu Township, where he was conferred a ridiculous title, is perhaps worse off than Epe. Here is a seriously sleepy town with no industry to boast of nor any meaningful sign of connection with the 21st century. Mr Ikuforiji and the misguided king of this town both did not deem it fit to ascertain areas where Mr Ikuforiji could perhaps invest his stolen loot to benefit the indigenes. What came as priority in the typical Nigerian fashion is title investiture and opprobrious display of ill-gotten wealth.
Fellow countrymen, the Nigerian dream remains a mirage simply because we remain in a permanent state of inertia. Our inaction will only perpetuate our anguish and agony. For now, we will keenly monitor the progress of the Ikuforiji's case. We wait to see, if perhaps, this will go the way of those before it - complete acquittal and discharge of a serial criminal. May God help Nigeria.
Dr Olusegun Fakoya