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In the news recently was the arrest of three former governors in Nigeria, while the fourth gave himself up after a dramatic disappearance. They have been accused of embezzling over $615 million (£400 million) of their states’ money. This is not only shocking but obscene. In a country where citizens are ravaged with poverty, unemployment, lack of electricity and so many social problems, such as security etc. In a country where average take home of a civil servant is about $100.
The governors are Otunba Gbenga Daniel (Ogun State (N58 billion), Alao Akala (Oyo State) Aliyu Doma of Nassarawa State and the chicken hearted run away Danjuma Goje (Gombe State) Doma and Goje are accused of “thieving” combined N37.23billion belonging to their states . They were arrested by the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). This is not the first time the commission has arrested public figures in the past on charges of fraud, but no notable prosecution has been put through. It is disheartening if Nigeria is known as a country where everything goes, where corruption is the norm in public service. This quote from the BBC News actually illustrate how Nigeria is assessed: “The BBC’s Jonah Fisher in Lagos says the EFCC has arrested high-profile figures before, but has so far been less successful in making the charges stick.
“Nigeria’s justice system is painfully slow and ill-equipped to deal with complex financial cases, our correspondent says.”
The aspect of Nigerian politics that amuses me is when politicians are seeking office, they are as humble and polite as the next door neighbour (the good one). I remember Otunba Gbenga Daniel early 2002 while seeking nominations on his party ticket. I remember the various adverts on TV. What strikes me mostly then, was his smile. He looked so peaceful, humble and an individual who could not hurt a fly. His smile was very infectious. I must confess I was always looking forward to see Otunba Daniel on the TV. His smile was assuring.
However, not long after becoming the governor, the smiles “thinned” and the serious face came on. The man that I saws pre-elections as very mild has taken over and not long after, hie pictures on a lion(?) started circulating on the internet, and after this so many other negative stories.
I believe in the saying that “an accused is innocent until proven otherwise”. However, the cases against the governors look formidable and solid. And I pray that “justice” will “take” the “course” of “law” in Nigeria. There are still many former public office holders in the country that are walking about free, despite the fact that it is public knowledge that they were “thieves” while in office. Is it selective justice? Or on what side you are?
Gbenga Daniel’s (N58 billion) case is pathetic. He was reported to have complained that he is being held in solitary confinement and as a result of this embarked on hunger strike. What does he expect? A suite in Nicon Noga Hotel? Come on get real, bro. You are in this for a long haul.
Lets look at how he is claimed to have defrauded his state. He is alleged to have “stolen” N58 billion. But wait a minute what does a man need as much as this for? Am I been conservative?
Here is a breakdown as reported in the Sun Newspaper Online. “In the first count of the charge, Daniel was alleged to have on 31st Mach, 2010, fraudulently converted a sum of $1,000,000 property of the state government being part of the funds allegedly deposited in the Ogun State Government domiciliary account with First City Monument Bank to acquire shares of Glanvill Enthoven and Company (Nigeria) Limited.
On the second count charge, on April 8, 2010, Daniel was alleged to have fraudulently converted an aggregate sum of $2,000,000 million worth property of Ogun State Government being part of the funds deposited in the state’s domiciliary account with First City Monument Bank, to acquire shares of Glanvill Enthoven and Company (Nigeria) Limited.
On count three, Daniel on 8th April, 2010 was accused of fraudulently converting the sum of $1,000,000 million property of Ogun State Government being part of the funds deposited in the Ogun State Government domiciliary account with FCMB which he used to acquire shares of 21st Century Technology Limited.
The fourth count charge accused him of defrauding the state, having allegedly converted the Judges Quarters at GRA Sagamu to his private use by building his personal house known as Asoludero Court. This property he was said to have acquired in the name of Blue Chapel Limited, a company where he was said to have interest but not authorised by the trust. On the fifth count charge, the former governor was said to have with intent, defrauded and converted the Judges’ Quarters at Ijebu-Ode to the use of Conference Hotels Limited, a company it was said that he, (Daniel) had interest but not authorized by the trust.
The sixth count charge had it that Daniel on or before 13th September, 2006, with intent to defraud the state, converted 2.011 hectares of land situated within the Secretariat Complex along Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida Boulevard, Abeokuta, Ogun State, to the use of Golf Place Resort Hotels Limited, a company which it was said, he had interest but was not authorized by the trust.
In the seven count charge, Daniel was said to have in 2005 with intent defraud and converted a 4,107 hectares of land within Scheme 1, Area, Riverview Estate, Isheri, along Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, Isheri, Ogun State to the use of Westerner Publishing Company Limited, a company it was said that he had interest.
The ex-governor on the eight-count charge was accused of fraudulently converting the sum of N1, 103,294,648.61 billion properties of Ogun State local government councils which deduction he made from their November 2009 statutory allocation. The ninth count charge read that Daniel, sometimes in July 2009, fraudulently converted a sum of N1, 061,155,624.55 property of Ogun State local government councils which deduction he allegedly made form their November 2009 Statutory Allocation.
Particulars of Count 10 had it that Daniel sometime in October 2009 within the jurisdiction of the honourable Court while being the Executive Governor of Ogun State fraudulent converted to his own, the sum of N1, 094,282,667.10, property of Ogun State Local Government Councils which deduction you made from their November 2009 Statutory Allocation.
The statement of count 12 read that Daniel sometime in August, 2009 within the jurisdiction of the honourable court whilst being the Executive Governor of Ogun State fraudulently converted to his own use, the sum of N1,051,218,881.46 property of Ogun State local government councils which deduction you made from their November, 2009 statutory allocation.
On count 13, the former governor was accused of not declaring his interest in Glanvil Enthoven and Company (Nigeria) Limited, a company in which he was alleged to have acquired interest while he was governor. Particulars of count 14 stated that Daniel made a declaration that was false by not declaring his interest in 21st Century Technology Limited, a company in which he was said to have acquired interest while he governed the state between 2003 and 2011. Count-15 also charged the ex-governor to have on 11th October, 2011, within the jurisdiction of the honourable court, knowingly made a declaration that was false by not declaring his interest in Conference Hotels Limited, a company where he allegedly acquired interest while he was governor.
Particulars of the count 16 said that Daniel on 11th October, 2011 within the jurisdiction of the honourable court knowingly made a declaration that was false by not declaring his interest in Golf Place Resort Hotel Limited, a company in which he was alleged to have interest while in office. ”
In similar development, Alao Akala and his co-accused were granted bail of N500 million by one Justic Abas sitting in Ibadan. This may look stringent, but for somebody charged with embezzling billions of naira it is chicken change. So you ask, what is the sense in this?
We wait on the sideline and watch as the case unfolds. It is instructive to note what Justice Abass of Ibadan said:- He was reported to have said the offences they(Akala &co) carried a sentence of just 3 to 7 years and it is not criminal, so no reason not to grant them bail. Did he say they have not committed criminal acts? What is stealing? It is pure crime. And stealing “peoples2 money” is crime against the people.
We wait for more.