Nigeria's Anti-corruption Crusade, Like "witchcraft" Drum And Dance
THE CRUDE APPROACH
The anti-corruption battle waged by President Mohammadu Buhari's administration, relives the "Witchcraft" drum, which once played by the mystical drummer, calls out any "witch" or "wizard" to dance in the village shrine. By so doing, the dancers are deemed to have owned up to "witchcraft". But controversies and oppositions used to trail the genuineness of the judgements against some dancers perceived by the villagers as upright persons. Such persons are sometimes believed to have been hypnotized to dance to the rhythm of the magic drum, and exhibit strange behaviours.
This has been the situation in Nigeria, since after May 29, 2015, when the All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Mohammadu Buhari assumed office. The Federal Government, under President Buhari has more than three years, taken on his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who peaceful handed over power, his former cabinet appointees, family, relations, associates and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to rubbish them in the court of public opinion and common court of law over humongous allegations of financial corruption, true or false.
One of the recent dramas is the series of what Information Minister in the President Buhari's Administration, Alhaji Lai Mohammed calls "strategic release" of list of "looters", to name and shame those who are on trial in court, those who allegedly returned their loots, those who he said are pleading or pleaded for plea bargaining, as well as the PDP which had being critical of the regime.
JUSTIFICATIONS FOR THE APPROACH
The lid was blown open by the PDP's overtures to win back the sympathy of the electorate, especially with its recent apology to citizens over its past mistakes and challenge that the government should unveil evidences of loot against it.
Following this, and the earlier allegation by Vice President Osinbajo in Lagos, that the outgone regime of Dr. Jonathan, frittered away N100billion few weeks to the 2015 elections, which the PDP further challenged, Alhaji Lai Mohammed released names of alleged looters. The release of the names, like the mystical witchcraft drum, caused controversies. Before now, the government said it was legally and morally constrained to publish alleged looters, but jettisoned these reasons and did otherwise.
POLITICAL MOTIVES AND SENTIMENTS AGAINST THE ACTION, AMIDST PDP'S CREDIBILITY CRISIS
Despite the peoples' interest in having corruption reduced to step up development, the recent developments have being viewed by many internal and foreign persons and organisations as unpalatable, and a political campaign gimmick by the APC.
Whereas the PDP has credibility crisis, in the estimation of some citizens, the treatment meted against it by the Buhari's regime and the APC, is rather also drawing sympathy to it (PDP). Bedides, the outgone Jonathan's regime's weaknesses, as being used by the present government to justify why it has not met the yearnings of the citizens, has rather also lost value.
Again, the sing-sung allegations of corruption are rather perceived as plot to "decimate" any opposing political forces and regions where the PDP and some election aspirants have footings, ahead of 2019 elections which President Buhari has also declared for.
In the Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta, these sentiments are brewing, and are shared also by their sympathisers in some other parts of the country and even abroad. It may have been taken as such, because, no past president, family, aides and party have being so denigrated by any succeeding government in Nigeria. And this is not to say, other past governments and associates, even the present one, were saints or their regions contributed most to the national revenue sadly squandered.
The Ijaw Youth Council and Niger Delta Avengers, have times past voiced these feelings, and called for an end to the harassment of leaders from the region and Ijaw tribe, but to no avail.
LEGAL INFRACTIONS AND CONTEMPT OF COURT, AS IJAW YOUTH COUNCIL FUMES
The recently published list of alleged looters, contains Ijaws and Niger Deltans such as Dr. Bolade Igali, Dr. Waripamowei Dudafa and Bar. Azibaola Robert, all associates of Ex-President Jonathan, apparently to cut corners to hook him. Apart from Dr. Igali, the other two are already standing trial, hence convicting them in the media is illegal, and amounts to contempt of court. For Dr. Igali who has not even been formally charged for financial fraud, his being listed amounts to the worst form of breach of law in the anti-corruption crusade.
Other Ijaws or better put, Niger Deltans listed in the lists are Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, Chief Tom Ikimi, Keneth Minimah and Mr. Uche Secondus, the National Chairman of the PDP. More persons from the Niger Delta, might still appear in third, fifth and sixth lists.
Miffed by the recent developments, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), has again made its position known, on the way and manner the anti-corruption fight is going on, with some Ijaws and the Niger Deltans, being treated as aliens and sole targets of the anti-corruption onslaughts.
Its National President, Bar. Oweilaemi Pereotubo, has said, he as a lawyer, the IYC, Ijaws and the Niger Delta people, will not condone corruption because it is a cankerworm that has destroyed the fortunes of the country. He said despite this position, the IYC makes bold to urge the Federal Government to give equal treatment to every suspected looter, irrespective of political and ethnic affiliations. Failure to do so, as he cautioned, could make the people to fight back.
Bar Pereotubo, made the position of the IYC known in an interview with this journalist.
The IYC President stated thus, "Those of us from the Niger Delta, particularly of the Ijaw extraction, are worried that the list of corrupt persons are targeted at ljaw sons and daughters. We are of the view that the corruption fight is targeted at some people or group of people in Nigeria.
"Anybody that is not in APC today, is a corrupt person? The people that were also in PDP before the emergence of the Buhari administration, because they are now in APC, they are not corrup?", the IYC president queried.
He alleged that: "There are several persons in APC, today, who were governors, ministers and National Assembly members, but ... the moment anybody jumps into the APC, the person is no longer corrupt, and cleared of all charges.
"And if that is the way the government has chosen to fight corruption, of course, it will get to a point that the Nigerian people, who hold the power, who have sovereignty, will fight back because the Nigerian people, Niger Delta people and ljaw nation are not very pleased nor comfortable with the way the present administration is fighting corruption", Bar Pereotuobo, cautioned.
He lamented that it was unfortunate that the people of the country found themselves in the present political situation in the country.
"For us in IYC, and for me as President of the IYC and also President General of all ethnic youth organisations in the Niger Delta, we are not pleased with the way and manner Mr. President is fighting corruption in Nigeria", Bar Peretuobo, further fumed.
He gave the instance of
the listing of Dr. Godknows Bolade lgali, a retired permanent secretary in the Federal Civil Service and career diplomat, listed in the looters list as one of the disgusting allegations.
"You will agree with me that the second list of alleged looters, that was published, also included one of our finest, one of our best, from the Niger Delta. That is in person of Ambassador Bolade lgali. Ambassador lgali is somebody of very high repute, international repute. He is known within and outside Nigeria. But they smuggled his name into the list of corrupt persons in Nigeria", Pereotubo, further justified the sentiment of ljaws being targeted in the corruption battle.
IYC NOT CONDONING CORRUPTION BUT WANTS LAWFUL PROSECUTION
Reiterating that the IYC and Ijaws would not stop any of its people from corruption charges, the Youth leader advised thus: "government should make it clear that nobody is a sacred cow or above the laws of the country. Everybody should be subjected to the 1999 Constitution, as amended. That is one of our positions on the corruption cases in Nigeria", the IYC further admonished.
It further advised that the Federal Government should sincerely fight corruption, and stop victimising some people, particularly the Ijaws and Niger Deltans politically, under the guise of fighting corruption.
CHALLENGES FG ON PROJECTS, RULE OF LAW
The IYC leader challenged the Federal Government under the APC's Mohammadu Buhari to reel out its programmes, instead of fighting perceived political enemies in the name of anti-corruption crusade.
"It seems to some people that as a government, there is no clear-cut agenda of programmes for the people", he enthused.
According to him, after more than three years in office, the administration ought to have implemented programmes that would impact positively on the citizens, instead of announcing a charade lists of looters.
Thus, he said, "the IYC challenges, the Buhari-led Federal Government to: "list projects that have been executed, completed and commissioned, instead of continuously publishing lists of alleged corrupt persons or looters in the country".
WANTS BUHARI TO DROP 2015 ELECTION SENTIMENTS, PLEDGES IJAWS PARTNERSHIP
According to the IYC leader, the Ijaws and Niger Deltans were willing to partner with the Federal Government to develop the region. The body therefore called on the APC-led Buhari regime, to shun sentiments of the 2015 elections and stop treating Ijaws as its enemies and aliens in a country they belong to. It further called on the Federal Government to stop the unlawful media trial, and genuinely follow the rule of law in combating graft.
Commenting on legal remedies to those allegedly named as people guilty of financial sleaze, Bar. Pereotubo, said only the court of law, has power to judge suspects as guilty of fraud, not the executive organ nor a political party. Hence, he urged affected persons in the lists, especially, those from ljaw, including Dr. Bolade Igali, to seek redress in the court of law.
Similarly, Senator Foster Ogola (PDP, Bayelsa West), said anybody accused could seek legal redress.
Senator Ogola in a media chat at the Senate, said Ambassador Igali had before now been harassed by the APC government, pointing out that he remains innocent until the allegations were proven by the accusers.
"Accusation does not mean conviction. It is just allegation" Senator Ogola stressed, adding that "... there are lots of people who are in that lists that didn't do anything wrong.
He deplored why Ambassador Igali was so treated, stating that he (Igali) had had good career of service, as a permanent secretary and diplomat, noting that the present fate is part of the prize of leadership, and was surmountable, by the grace of God.
Although, Ambassador Igali did not oblige this journalist's requests for comments, a press statement reacting to the publishing of his name in the list, stated that his "name was falsely smuggled into the list, against a whooping loot of N7billion".
Dr. Igali added that it was the third time he had been wrongly accused, usually in festive seasons, stating that 45 SUVs bought with loan for Jonathan-Sambo 2015 election campaigns, and traced to the supplier's premises, were wrongly put on his head.
He decried that he had been a victim and scapegoat of the present administration, since Dr. Goodluck Jonathan left office, adding that, he knew that as one of the close associates of the former president, he would carry the cross.
ONE OF DR. JONATHAN'S PROPHESIES FULFILLED
Former President Jonathan had also predicted in a farewell church service in his honour at Aso Rock, that many people would suffer because of his defeat and concession to his successor, President Buhari.
The manifestions of one of Jonathan's many prophesies only leaves people to exclaim, Oh! what a prediction, and world of vengeance, even as vengeance belongs God.
THIRD LIST AND CLIMAX OF THE DRAMA AWAITED
The end of the drama is yet to come, as a third list is awaited, just as viewers await the climax.