Osinbajo's Panel of Three: a Travesty of President Buhari's War Against Corruption
In the past days, there has been a high level elite aggressive push in the main stream media for the VP Osinbajo-led investigative panel to hush-hush. Attorney-General Abubakar Malami and National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno are the other two members of the panel.
First came former foreign minister Bolaji Akinyemi who strongly advised absolute silence on the findings of the panel. The ex-minister went as far as discouraging Nigeria's House of Reps from probing the Ikoyi $43 million stash matter, further suggesting that the public should not be made aware of the conclusions of the panel. He went further to state that only Senate president Saraki and speaker Dogara should be told its findings.
In rapid succession, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku seconded Akinyemi, discouraging revelations of "secrets" of the panel's investigations.
Minister Akinyemi did not just discourage secrets, he also suggested that “Should any NIA officer be found culpable, he or she should be quietly eased out."
The two articles were well circulated in the main press, and one can expect a torrent of similar opinions on the way.
One immediately asks, what secret was revealed before these suggestions and why the grave concern?
Minister Akinyemi said Nigeria's foreign workings must be protected. There is however no precedence to this. US' famous former CIA chief, General Petraeus "the best-known military commander of his generation" according tot he New York Times, was recently put on scandalous trial public and fined for mis-handling confidential information. What foreign operations is Nigeria dealing with compared to USA?
To the question on "what secret was recently revealed," the embarrassing alleged revelations from the drills of the panel are that Nigeria's current National security adviser, NSA Babagana Monguno, also on the panel was indicted by the suspended NIA boss Ayodele Oke, are the most important of note.
NIA boss Oke was allegedly engaged in distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars funds for the re-election campaign of former president Goodluck Jonathan. One can only wonder if the possible indictment of the current NSA as knowing about some of these concealed and illegally distributed moneys – not just the Ikoyi stash– to other eminent Nigerians is the issue. Is the probable indictment of other eminent Nigerians also in the distribution channel who possibly received the largess also causing the severe distress and angst?
The request for soft landing for the NIA boss indicted in the massive scandal of receiving bullion-loads of foreign currency from the Central bank as against his being arrested, as was discussed in the recent US Rachel Maddow show on the MSNBC channel, also raises eyebrows. One will expect the former foreign minister to have joined Nigerians complaining on why Mr. Oke has not yet been arrested.
Serious Nigerians have discredited the constitution of the Osinbajo-panel in the first place as being unconstitutional and an obstruction of justice in addition to being a waste of the time of the Vice president holding forte during Buhari's time off. In size, three-members, is possibly the smallest panel for an issue of such import in democratic history. There are too many problems with the Buhari-ordered panel that are of greater national and public security interest; some as I have earlier discussed.
ENDS public policy strategist, Dr. Rotimi Adigun lamented that "in an ideal country, Nigeria's Attorney general would be investigating the presidency for creating a political panel to investigate what should ordinarily be a police case." He cited as an example the Trump presidency setting up its three-man panel to investigate $43 million found in the apartment of one of its appointees. Buhari kept the NIA boss for almost two years in spite of our cries for all security chiefs to be retired as soon as he took office.
The EFCC, an investigative and prosecutorial branch of the Nigerian government that discovered the stashed bails is equipped to handle the investigation as against a panel of political office-holders at the executive branch. This is a criminal case that should be investigated by the relevant investigative arms of the government; EFCC, police, ICPC, mandated by government for such cases.
"The Attorney General's office – consists of dozens of lawyers– will ordinarily examine the case and advice the presidency on its potential criminal nature. The office will then order the relevant agencies to investigate the NIA," Dr. Adigun further detailed.
The executive can contribute to such investigation, but to intervene in the EFCC investigation and take over amounts to an attempt to basically usurp the duties of the agencies. And with government agents involved, this is a clear conflict of interest.
One would expect to hear loudly from Nigeria's civil societies to put a stop to the charade of panels that wreck the fibre of the developing Nigerian judicial and criminal justice system.
Dr. Perry Brimah; @EveryNigerian