DAVID-WEST, WRISTWATCH, CUP OF TEA SAGA: CORRECTION
First and foremost I must congratulate the Daily Sun, 06 April, 2012 for its beautiful Editorial, 'The controversial church gift.' It is also refreshing that even after more than two decades of that my notorious, sadistic, bogus and ludicrous 'Gift of wristwatch and cup of tea' by Stinnes Oil Company saga for which I was jailed for life incarceration by General Ibrahim Babangida and Dr. Jubril Aminu on 16 November, 1990 the event continues to be cited in contemporary discourse on 'Public Officers and Gifts.'
Indeed The Guardian Editorial, 'David-West: A victory for justice,' 21 August, 1991 foresaw this when it described the case, 'Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Professor Tam David-West' as a 'Landmark Case.'
Indeed, it was a landmark case in more ways than one. Hence it had wide world coverage: BBC, VOA, continental Europe media, continental Africa media, Amnesty International etc. It made major news at NTA prime time 9.00 p.m for months. My prison mementos included letter/words of courage from the Great Zik of Africa, Chief T.O.S. Benson, Rt. Rev. Dr. Edmund Fitzgibom (Catholic Bishop, Port Harcourt), Congressman Edward Kennedy Jr., President of Togo, Wole Soyinka, I remain eternally bankrupt in gratitude. I do.
However, on the Editorial under reference op. cit, I wish to make the following very important corrections. But these do not in anyway detract from the manifest beauty of the Editorial and so do not render it otiose. To facilitate my point let me take the liberty to excerpt from the Editorial: 'Receipt of such gifts in the past attracted sanctions. Former Petroleum Minister, Professor Tam David-West, was jailed for receiving a gift of a wristwatch and a cup of tea from a contractor with which the government had dealings in the 1980's.'
Correction No. 1:
Contrary to the orchestrated, manipulated, distorted and shamelessly corrupted government disinformation, the said 'wristwatch gift etc.' were by one Mr. Bruce Rappaport. He was introduced to me by Dr. Dele Cole. Documents available. He had no - repeat - no - contract whatsoever with NNPC. He wanted to participate in our novel 'Pre-Payment Strategy' programme which made IMF loan irrelevant. But his proposals were turned down.
Correction No. 2:
The meeting with Rappaport was in Geneva in 1984. No secret. My staff were present.
Correction No. 3:
The negotiation with Stinnes (NNPC contractor since President Shagari) was in Vienna in 1985. No relationship with Mr. Bruce Rappaport whatsoever.
The corrupted and palpably teleguided Justice Alhaji Bello Gusau (Chairman) Military Tribunal shut its eyes on all these. I must be jailed by all means and at whatever costs!
But fortunately all of these were in my 'Appellant's Brief of Arguments' and also in my already completed and printed 212 page, STINNES (The '$57M……CUP OF TEA-WRISTWATCH SAGA').
First, I was discharged and acquitted by The Special Appeal Tribunal. Chairman, The Honourable Justice Dahunsi O. Coker (Supreme Court Rtd) on 08 August, 1991: 'No iota of corruption.' But not before I've spent ELEVEN days at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, whisked there in the odious 'BLACK MARIA' and nine months under very harsh conditions at the 'Bama Prison Borno State, some 1,000 km from Lagos.
At Kirikiri Prison, I shared a bunker bed with a young inmate. The first in my life. I had my separate bed even in Secondary School dormitory. At Bama Prison my little mud hut cell, (no ceiling) walls were generously 'decorated' with faecal stains. I was denied any reading materials at both Kirikiri and Bama. And when the 'gods' later allowed me, they carefully cut off any reports on my case. For over one 'Prison Year,' I was so subjected. However, my spirits were rock solid. Not even pinpoint of guilt on my conscience. None whatsoever. 'He was jailed without evidence' (Amnesty International).
Perhaps Bolaji Akinyemi was right when he stated that 'The Babangida regime was an infinity of evil' (TEMPO 09 March, 1990 page 6.)
Secondly, nemesis: After jailing me Alhaji Justice Gusau was promoted (Job well done?) Chief Judge of Sokoto State. Any Dasuki connection?
However, after some five years he was dismissed for unethical conduct. Corruption. Vide: The PUNCH 20 August, 1990. Front page. The Week 09 December, 1996. Page 5. The PUNCH 07 September, 1996. Page 8.
On the fate of my other gaolers: The Chief Prosecutor, Adebale, was shuffled out of the Justice ministry. The Permanent Secretary, retired. As for Babangida and Aminu it's all history. Still unfolding, 'Lef am for God.' Colloquial.
On the ongoing scandal of 'Church gift' to President Jonathan by the Italian Gitto General Construction Company, (CGC), the subject of the Daily Sun Editorial op. cit., let me for now make the following preliminary observations and comments.
It is most ludicrous and insulting to our collective intelligence to ever dare to say that it is no bribe. What is 'bribe?'
'A price, reward, gift or favour bestowed or promised with a view to pervert the judgement of or influence the action of a person in a position of trust' (Black's Law Dictionary 7th edition 1999).
'The core concept of a bribe is an inducement improperly influencing the performance of a public function meant to be gratuitously exercised' (In 'Bribes' by John T. Noonan, Jr. Quoted by Black's Law Dictionary).
In short, 'bribe' is a gift, of whatever form, given to or offered to a person in authority with the carefully calculated sole purpose of ingratiating the 'Briber' to the 'Receiver,' and artfully intended to influence the conduct of the 'Bribe-Receiver' in such ways that will be favourable to the 'Briber.'
The 'church gift' is also corruption simpliciter. 'Corruption,' is in short 'the use of public powers in order to achieve private goals' (Christopher Clapham).
In a similar vein, our great literary icon, Chinua Achebe, saw it as 'improper use of influence.' In a word, it is malfeasance. Simpliciter. Some have cited an earlier corruption and abuse of office by Obasanjo when he was President. His personal library. However, we don't justify one corruption with another. Jack stole; so Jill also stole is a warped or corrupt logic.
In fact, all the more reason Jonathan should have behaved better.
Next, it is both nonsensical and absurd to argue that it was not a 'personal gift' to Jonathan but to his village church at Otuoke. Why not to other non-Jonathan villages in Bayelsa without Jonathan's imprint?
I'm totally ashamed as a devout Anglican (104 years of Family Anglicanism) for the clergy of the said church to ever attempt to defend the clearly indefensible with any decent person. A moral rot!
This is a clear and good example of how some of our contemporary so-called servants of God, clergy, corrupt the Faith with the expediency of material advantage. Any wonder why some of the contemporary churches have lost their high moral ground and so can no longer give the expected exemplary moral leadership.
There are even several reports of 'pastors' or 'prophets' praying for armed robbers to rob well so as to give donations or gifts to their 'churches.' I sometimes wish for the visitation of the Old Testament God. I honestly do.
I am also startled to read the comments by two SANS. Morrison Quakers and Joseph Nwobike (The Nation 06 April, 2012 page 2). Specious and tendentious.
The former posited that Jonathan 'could not be faulted on moral ground.' I say, arrant nonsense. What is morality in the first place?
A 'gift' of a church (construction or renovation) to Jonathan's village church by a major foreign construction contractor with mega-million government patronage. Was it good judgment by Jonathan? No. It was reckless and careless Indiscretion. An epitome of immorality. He, however, held that Jonathan fell foul of the Constitution. Obvious even to a non - SAN. But one who is very familiar with our Constitution. On his part, Joseph Nwobike (SAN) curiously held that the 'controversy generated by the incident as unnecessary.' He then went on to argue, also curiously, that it was not a personal gift to Jonathan. This is also total nonsense.
Let me hit the 'nucleus,' so to say, of the bribe and the corruption in the whole reprehensible matter: 'Reports on the recent dedication ceremony of the church quote the president as saying he had complained to the contractor on the aging of HIS village church….' (Editorial, Daily Sun, op. cit.). Capitalise 'HIS' my emphasis. So Jonathan in fact solicited for the project. How much more 'personal' can we get. No amount of after-thoughts can obliterate this. I remember my dear mother, a Moral Teacher, once said: 'In this world three things don't come back: Spoken Word. Sped Arrow. Lost opportunity.'
At the background of all these is the most embarrassing fact that Gito General Construction Company is a major contractor for both the Federal and state governments. On the crucial or pivotal point that Jonathan, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in fact personally solicited for the face-lifting of HIS village church I will not be surprised if President Jonathan's 'Boy Friday,' Reuben Abati, jumps up to 'educate' us that the Press 'misquoted' or lifted 'out of context' what President Jonathan actually said at the dedication ceremony of the church project. But Reuben should know or ought to know that we are not a nation of nitwits or morons. And so some defense of the indefensible stands the risk of parading the defender as stupid and silly, destroying his case more instead of salvaging it.
This informed my Essay, 'Quotable 'Misquotes' ' (This Day 11, 12, 13, December, 1997).
A word for Jonathan on our Ijaw compatriots who see nothing ever wrong with any of his actions, or antagonize other Nigerians with silly counterproductive baseless geo-ethnic slurs, I say be wary. These are essentially bunches of revolving professional sycophants with no marrow-deep loyalties and emerge like mushrooms on field conveniently adorning themselves with all sorts of acronyms. They are pure and simple flipping time - servers. Time will, as usual, prove me right.
This reminds me of my Essay: 'Obasanjo's Convenient 'Aburos' and 'Egbons' ' (Weekend Concord 27 May/03 June, 2000).
In the 1999 Presidential Election Obasanjo lost woefully to Falae in all the core Yoruba states. Falae's votes were four times Obasanjo's. But soon after Obasanjo won, all sorts of Yorubas became his 'aburos' and his 'egbons.'
A similar situation with Jonathan for his Presidency. The contribution of Ijaw/Niger Delta votes was some 24%. But now it is all of a sudden, 'Jonathan our son,' 'Ebele our brother.' Cheap. Cheap. Cheap. Silly. Stupid.
Some pseudos like 'Asari Dokubo' or 'Dokubo Asari' who even said that Ijaws are not Nigerians are now chanting 'Jonathan president of Nigeria.' No contradiction? The same character who said when he went to commiserate at Ojukwu's funeral that in 2015 there must be 'Ibo President.' Now, says 2015 'Jonathan or no other.' Details later.
Let me repeat: Any person who sees no fault in you as a leader, suspect him. The deification of a mortal is not less sinful or odious than the desecration of a deity.
'Conscience is an open wound: Only Truth can heal it' (Uthman Dan Fodio). I believe or like to believe that Jonathan has conscience. So he should know the honourable thing to do under the circumstance. That is, honourably leave Aso Rock to save the Presidency from desecration. On my life jail sentence in 1990 without any guilty vis-Ã -vis Jonathan's solicited 'church gift,' let me once again quote the great scholar, Uthman Dan Fodio,: 'A nation can endure with unbelief but it cannot endure with injustice.'
No nation guilty of 'Graduated Justice' or 'Graduated Citizenship' can survive the test of time. In fact it is so sinful that every passing day brings it nearer to its Requiem. Its grave. Unstoppable.
Professor Tam David-West writes from Ibadan, Oyo State