ANALYSIS: Strange, Typical Of When The Loot Is LootedFeatured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Friday, December 11th, 2015
By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, African Examiner, Nigeria Bureau
I have the strong feeling that readers can correctly predict my focus this week. The reason is that besides being a prasticing journalist, I belong to the segment of the trade, who operate exclusively online. Therefore, this makes the protest, opposition and outright condemnation that have trailed the Bill (still undergoing reading in the Senate), proposing stringent sanctions against the activities of the New Media hawks, to catch my attention. It rested on me, an obligation – an issue I must compulsorily add my voice as well as join all other well meaning colleagues and fellow social media ‘soldiers’ – in the struggles and moves against the offensive, ostracized and ‘calculated’ Bill.
Still, a previous experience which has persisted till very lately occasioned the inevitable reverse – forcing decision to making the anti-social Media Bill to become secondary.
Ever since the late Head of State, Gen Sanni Abacha’s loot has been added to the ongoing arrest, investigation and trial of the suspects in the $2.1 billion arms scandal, I have heard people lamenting and expressing, jokingly – what a country; what a government – “looting the loots” of a former regime. Really, the comment was very amusing to me. But the cliché (looting the loots) became more exciting to me Thursday afternoon, after reading a post by one of the very active social media hawks I know. The guy is a Lagos based journalist with a private radio station. He posted sarcastically that he wondered what late Abacha (if he were to be alive) could have done (preferred sanctions) against the reckless politicians who ‘looted his loot’. What a timely and an interesting topic (focus), I had thought and did drop in his Facebook chat box. Richi, as I fondly called him, instantly replied and thanked me for the compliment.
Dear readers, you would recall I stated in my analysis last week that with the arrest and admittance of Chief Raymond Dokpesi of collecting still (questionable) the sum of N2.1 Billion, from the first suspect, Col. Sambo Dasuki, I predicted that more revelations and exposure would be made.
The forecast has come to past, especially with the confirmation this week, after ‘foot dragging’ and throwing of many tantrums by the former Finance Minister, Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; that she did transfer “on the approval” of the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan to the office of former NSA, Dasuki, the sum of $322 million (part of recovered late Abacha’s loot) for the execution of fight against Boko Haram insurgency. That is a very good one.
Today (Friday), another shocking revelation reached the public from a newspaper publisher, Mr. Nduka Obiagbena. The Publisher admitted receiving also “on the approval” (note please) of former President Jonathan, the sum of N550 Million as compensation for attack on his Abuja office by the insurgents and another N120 Million, also compensation for the affected members of the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), during the security swoop on the national dailies last year. The monies, according to
Obiagbena were received between February and November 2014.
The questions have been asked again and again; that what is the link between the office of NSA and the pool of money being paid to Dokpesi (for political campaign Adverts and publicity); then the N4.6 Billion released by the same suspect (Dasuki) to the ex-Sokoto State Governor, Attahiru Bafarawa (for spiritual purpose)?
Here we are again. Part of the money meant to purchase arms and support the Military to fight terrorists is again being paid as compensation to a newspaper house that suffered attack from the insurgents. I wonder why such reimbursement could not be done with the huge security votes (which are not accounted for). I also wonder why other Nigerians who lost their loved ones; the soldiers who died at the battle front and another National daily which lost last year, its Managing Editor in a deadly attack at a popular Shopping mall in Abuja did not enjoy similar ‘revived’ payment.
Mr. Obiagbena mentioned in his letter that the former President disliked setting precedence; with the release of N550 Million (compensation) to a single entity. Has the record not been set with the compensation he claimed? Why this type of ‘kind’ gesture should be lopsided? And every suspect (being investigated or not) so far, is referring to approval by the formal President. This is very key, instructive and matters a lot, in the ongoing arms purchase scandal investigation and trial.
This week, a regular reader of my analysis sent a comment to one of my social media handles, on the last week’s focus, which discussed likely attempt by some elements, wanting to use ‘backdoor’ court rulings to frustrate speedy and smooth trial of the corrupt suspects. The fellow expressed delight that President Muhammadu Buhari in his estimate, is really determined and has put all measures in place to conquer the battle against corruption. I commended him for his take, yet, expressed my areas of concern which bothers on the political will to get deep down to the root of every alleged corrupt case.
For instance, all the suspects being identified, arrested, investigated and tried have mentioned the approval of the ex-President in the money they received from Dasuki. So, the question now is; why the receivers of the looted money, mentioned so far be questioned and tried as the case may be, without the same, to the source that authorized the loot? This is one of the concerns of those who crave for total cleansing in Nigeria.
That why former President Jonathan should not be invited for investigation after being indicted and after denying (recently) ever giving approval for release of $2.1 Billion to his Dasuki for arms purchase? Again, the public is also worried, but hope that the entire scam investigation and trial would not end up with only mass media reporting – media trial as it is called.
Nigeria is a very complex country, so also is the people. Despite the shocking and glaring revelation, some die-hard and apologists of the accused still complain about partiality and witch- hunting. If before the plain facts, yet, we are still faced with some primordial and nauseating sentiments, I wonder what the defenders would say and what would happen if
the EFCC decided to summon the immediate former President for investigation and subsequently prosecution if need be.
These are the key areas many Nigerians are looking at and which they will commend the present government which promised total change in Nigeria. They will also by extension, praise the anti-graft body for acting up to its real name. And in fighting the war, the EFCC does not necessarily need to await the directive from Mr. President before he deems it fit, the arrest and investigation of any suspect, no matter the status.
As for the loot of late Abacha to have been this misappropriated, the buck stops at the doorstep of the former President. The loot bizarre is a confirmation of financial indiscipline; recklessness and abuse of privilege of public offices. The present case of the “looted loot” is also a mark of a weak leadership; a leadership that lacks competence and which had no passion for the welfare of its people.
Many Nigerians were unrelenting on their reservation and criticism over lack of direction and dexterity of former President Jonathan. And this is one of the reasons he and his party were voted out of the power, at the centre in the last general elections. Regrettably, his party, which is today in the opposition; his aides and party stalwarts kept defending him and his failing government (then), claiming he was the ‘missing fortune and anointed Messiah’ of Nigeria, just because they were greatly benefitting from the booty – from the looted loot!
Again, I believe more names would still be mentioned and shocking figures would be reeled out, alongside the ongoing fraudulent arms deal. In fact, I anticipate that the saga will likely take new a twist entirely, should the EFCC with the facts from the government, have the courage to invite and question the immediate past President. I am very sure he has more information to give and more explanations to make.
I insist, I can’t comprehend how and why the present arm scandal investigation will last successfully, without former President Jonathan.
News reports recently had it that the Federal Government was weighing the best option or approach to investigate the immediate past Nigerian leader. Why this? If no special consideration was given to those mentioned and implicated so far, why for the ‘suspect’ who authorized the looted loot? After all, no more immunity and other undue advantages attached to his former office. Nigerians care less, whoever that is justly tried and convicted for misappropriating the country’s commonwealth, which could have since been used judiciously on to provide efficient public services.
Finally, if those who benefitted from the looted loot wish to cry to the roof top, they should please go ahead. Nigerians are not in for trivial politics in the face of reality. An aide of President Jonathan Thursday fired that it was better now that Buhari now understood the meaning of subsidy, by resolving to pay the outstanding of the petroleum marketers. The question the aide should answer is that, which administration recorded the huge debt?
Anyway, there is little he and his former colleagues can do now, since their boss is no more in power. However, the former Oga might not escape the looming ‘day of reckoning’. Just as I am also doing, everyone is entitled to his views – to make sense or offend other people’s sensibilities; talk is cheap, they say. But one thing that is certain and which Nigerians will be so glad the present administration achieved is that, every looter of the public funds must be brought to justice, irrespective of the noise, distraction and diversionary tactics deployed by the affected and their proxies.
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