The recent arrest of the immediate past Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and his subsequent release from detention after meeting his bail conditions once again brought to the fore, the effort of the anti-graft agency to stem the tide of corruption in our polity.
Statutorily, the Commission has the right to go after anyone suspected to have criminally soiled his hands with anything relating to finance especially public funds. To that extent, public office holders are the first line of suspects as evidenced over the years right from the military era in Nigeria has shown that they steal public funds with impunity.
The level of primitive accumulation of wealth among Nigerian public office holders has become legendary such that those who do not have one accusation or the other of financial misappropriation at one level of governance or the other, are just few.
Since the EFCC was created by the Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in his early days after becoming President in 1999, many governors, ministers, lawmakers and so on, have had cause to be arrested by the Commission, taken into custody and prosecuted. While the EFCC has in some cases secured conviction particularly in cases involving lesser mortals, it has been subjected to the position of a wild goose chaser in corruption related matters involving those with ‘super connection’ in the country.
This is ostensibly the reason why many concerned Nigerians now see the arrest of politicians in Nigeria as a huge joke. After the arrest, they secure their bail and go about their normal activities with audacity that surpasses even the innocent citizens.
The most worrisome aspect of it all, is that the criminal justice administration has been manipulated in such a manner that the cases run endlessly in court with countless number of adjournments that permit the suspected offenders with leverage to seek for higher political office at the same time. Here are some samplers:
Former Governor Danjuma Goje was
accused of mismanaging N25bn state funds by the EFCC but today he is serving as a Senator. Same with a former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah who was accused of diversion of N3.5bn by the EFCC.
Abia State former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu who was accused of mismanaging N7.65bn state funds by the EFCC is today a proud Senator just like his Imo State counterpart Owelle Rochas Okorocha accused of mismanaging state funds by the EFCC.
Capital Oil boss Ifeanyi Ubah accused of N43bn subsidy fraud by the EFCC is also serving in the Senate with Ibrahim Shekarau accused of N950m Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Campaign fund mismanagement by the EFCC.
We also have in the Senate accused persons like former Governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji who reportedly mismanaged N27bn State funds, Ex-Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State accused of stockpiling 1,000 AK47 and 4 million bullets.
The former Governor of Akwa Ibom Godswill Akpabio accused of mismanaging N100bn state funds by the EFCC is now a Federal Minister.
In the same manner, it can only be a matter of days for Willie Obiano to find himself also in the Senate or become a Minister all courtesy of the lapses in our criminal justice system.
We dare caution that treating such monumental corruption cases with levity by the judiciary which has allowed endless adjournments to prevail would only serve as tonic to more public office holders to engage in primitive accumulation with shameless audaciousness.
It is worthy of note that one of the highpoints of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration agenda is war against corruption which he promised to do without fear nor favour.
Just about a year to leave, the situation has not shown any better than what he met on ground. Rather, the scope of corrupt practices got widened with the careless acceptance of those already charged with the offence of corruption into the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). True to the sing song of former APC national Chairman, Adams Oshiomole that any corrupt politician’s sin is forgiven once he cross carpets to APC, that is exactly what the situation seems to have been.
The judiciary has been emasculated by the powers that be in governance and cases involving the high rank corrupt office holders have suffered endless adjournments. This has only helped to portray our criminal justice system in bad light.
We call for a positive change before more corrupt leaders find their ways into more cosy positions in government.