Dikko’s Trial by Ordeal and Truth We Must Know

By Abubakar Duniya

Many of those faulting the way and manner the anti-corruption crusade is being prosecuted under President Muhammadu Buhari are guilty of approaching the issue from sentimental perspective. True. The fight has shown a high degree of one sidedness, mostly members of the erstwhile ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP are the ones being clamped into detention with all manners of contrived tricks to remove the prerogative for granting bail from the law courts to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Critics are right to highlight these glaring discrepancies in the treatment of those suspected of wrongdoing but for the sake of the country it is time we start addressing the issue with facts. Only then will it be possible to prove whether or not the anti-corruption war has become vindictive as it is increasingly becoming glaring in the case of Mr Abdullahi Inde Dikko, the former Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS.

Mr Dikko’s Jabi residence in Abuja was best likened to the scene of a mini war as operatives of the EFCC laid siege to the premises earlier this month and eventually invaded the place in the absence of the owner without a valid search warrant. Not done with the trauma the invasion inflicted on his children, who are minors, the next wave of the assault was unveiled in media reports that there is a directive for the former Customs boss to be arrested at any airports he arrives at when returning to the country from his trip.

So far, the true nature or content of his alleged crimes remain nebulous since those cooking up the charges have hinted that they are throwing in the accusation of treason for good measures. This will be consistent with the new strategy of accusing people of allegations that turn out to be multiple fold more than what they would be eventually charged with. The other ploy is to bring up as many charges as possible - as many as 122 in some instances just to see which of them will stick since there is always barely any evidence. The spurious and multiple charges equally offers the leeway to withdraw charges and file fresh one under a ploy that makes accused persons stay longer in EFCC’s custody.

So those who are brave enough to criticise the ordeal that Mr Dikko is being put through should do the country the favour of telling Nigerians the truth they must know. An accusation, floated in the media, against him is that he diverted the revenue generated by for his personal use and only remitted N2 billion for the months he was in office last year. As a way of making this falsehood take on the air of a mortal crime this supposed earning is being compared with the incumbent leadership of the Service, which has generated N750 billion in the space of seven months according to the figures released.

This claim of theft of revenue under Mr Dikko’s watch or allegations that only N2 billion was remitted should prick our curiosity for several reasons. One, one of the headlines in early 2015 was " Customs generates N977.09bn revenue in 2014”. Part of the accompanying text further revealed that this represented a shortfall in the expected N1.2 trillion projected for that year.

How logical is it that a man who set the ambitious target of N1.2 trillion will be dumb enough to remit N2 billion even for one quarter? Has anyone bothered to reason that even the N750 billion netted in seven months under the present leadership falls within the band of the projected N1.2 trillion per year since this amounts to N100 billion monthly? Why is the report that that NCS generated N2 billion under Mr Dikko being used to demonize him before Nigerians as a corrupt person?

Nigerians are also being misled to believe that the revenue generation announced by the present leadership has no connection with the reforms that were put in place for efficiency under the former Customs boss. It is thus logical to surmise that rather than praising the blockage of leakages, the truth should have also factored in that innovations and changes made previously have yielded more results.

On another front, some of those who are today the assailant of this fine gentleman were among the hordes that went cap in hand to the former administration to secure imports waivers and other relief that translated into loss of revenue for the service. Would they have taken it lightly if the then Presidency or Federal Executive Council had given waivers and the erstwhile Comptroller General had refused to honour them?

These are other directions that we must look towards in the quest for truth.

ABUBAKAR wrote in from Abuja.

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