The Road To Perdition
culled from THISDAY, October 20,
No doubt, the tenure of Ayodele
Fayose as governor of Ekiti State was doomed from day one. The hand writing
was clearly on the wall. Fayose was the only one that could not see it.
Every other person did. And so, it came to pass. Following weeks of
political crisis in Ekiti, the Federal Government on Wednesday released the
expected hammer, by declaring a state of emergency in the state. The two
parallel governments operating in Ekiti after Fayose was impeached had
turned the state into a battle ground. The parties were claiming legitimacy,
until President Olusegun Obasanjo stepped in. For Obasanjo, Ekiti State was
heading for anarchy and must be salvaged.
How did Ekiti State get to this stage? How did it all start?
The debacle was an accident waiting to happen. Fayose, whose middle name is
obviously 'controversy' assumed office in 2003 amidst high expectations.
Just few weeks on, he ran into numerous problems, which also affected the
fortune of the state. The incriminating report issued by the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against him was the climax.
The EFCC report...
The report released September 21 did not come as a surprise. Prior to the
release, operatives of the anti-graft agency had been holding associates and
friends of the governor by the jugular over alleged looting of the state's
resources. They include his Personal Assistant Goke Olatunji, and a
consultant/contractor, Gbenga James. Two of them were eventually charged to
court. The EFCC could not do much about the alleged involvement of the
governor because of his immunity. However, on September 21, the EFCC
formally reported Fayose, and his deputy, Chief Abiodun Olujinmi, to the
House of Assembly, saying they were corrupt, and liable for criminal
conversion of state funds as well as money laundering. The commission in a
six-page report signed by its Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and addressed to
the former Speaker of the House, Mr. Friday Aderemi, provided massive
evidence of graft and accused the helmsmen of the state of abuse of office.
The commission accused Fayose and Olujimi of conspiracy; illegal diversion
of funds and corrupt enrichment; abuse of office and money laundering.
According to the report titled, "A Case of Conspiracy, Abuse of Office,
Money Laundering, Corrupt Practices and Stealing of Government Funds," the
EFCC explained that a comprehensive investigation indicted the persons and
companies mentioned in it. It said that because the state’s chief executive
and his deputy had constitutional immunity from criminal prosecution, Fayose
would be charged at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Joint Local Government
The EFCC insisted that the governor and his deputy along with some other
senior government officials looted Ekiti state’s treasury, contending that
some of the funds converted were meant for provision of infrastructure.
Other persons named in the report included the former Commissioners for
Finance, Works and Agriculture; the Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Local
Government; Chairman, Ekiti Roads Maintenance Agency; Mr. Biodun Fari-Arole;
a contractor; Mr. Abiola Ayobola; a banker; Biological Concept and Avian
Specialties Limited. The EFCC said the state’s Accountant-General and local
government chairmen were unable to explain the whereabouts of about
N11.8billion out of the N17.8billion paid into the State Joint Local
Government Account from the Federation Account as statutory allocations that
accrued to the councils between January 2004 to June 2006.
Buttressing its claim on alleged diversion of N11.8billion LG funds, which
it alleged the Accountant-General and LG chairmen were unable to account
for, the commission sated: "Apart from allocating N2m per month to each LG
chairman out of which N500m was paid into account of Ayo Fayose Foundation,
it was established that over N100million was being deducted monthly by the
state government from the Joint Account and shared among government
officials, including members of Ekiti State House of Assembly and the
Chairman of PDP in Ekiti State. This was confirmed in some of the vouchers
provided by the Ministry for Local Government.
"The balance, which is in excess of N60million monthly, is said to be in
respect of town projects, which include road maintenance under Ekroma Water
Maintenance and Electricity/Transformers. Also, N265million classified as
Ekroma expenses was deducted between July and August 2005 from the records
presented by the State Accountant-General, whereas the Project Manager,
Engineer Kolade, claimed that he got only between N16million and N17million
in the same period."
The Integrated Poultry
The EFCC also alleged that N855million was withdrawn from the state
government's account on the pretext of establishing an integrated poultry
farm in the state (which landed both Olatunji and James in a Federal High
Court). It alleged that between December 2003 and December 2005, Fayose,
without due process, engaged Biological Concepts, managed by James, his
personal friend, on the pretext of establishing an integrated poultry farm
in the state. Through this project, it said, N855million was withdrawn from
the account of the state government. It stated: "On April 28, 2004, a sum of
N340million was transferred from the Wema Bank account of the state
government to the account of Biological Concept in Prudent Bank. The
Managing Director of Biological Concept, on the same day, withdrew over N80
million and converted the sum of N17million into British pounds and US
dollars, which he sent through former Deputy Governor, Mrs. Olujimi, who
acknowledged receipt of the money from one Mrs. Shade Ibiyemi, Secretary to
the Managing Director of Biological Concept."
The EFCC alleged that ten days later, James converted the sum of N156million
to US dollars and transferred same to India, in favour of his other company,
Avian Specialties via Statement of Account of both Biological Concept and
Avian Specialties in Union Bank and Prudent Bank. "Mr. James transferred
over N100million from the account of Biological Concept to account of Avian
Specialties as if the money was proceed from his legitimate earnings. At the
Afao-Ekiti Headquarters of the poultry project, it was established that out
of N855million collected for the project, N350million was meant for
construction of the headquarters, but only N73million was used to build and
The EFCC alleged that the contractor for the poultry project spent over N150
million to acquire property for himself and the governor in both Ibadan and
environs. It stated further that the contractor acquired eight cars for
himself and the governor's mother, and also built a house for the governor
through an architect, Mr. Lawal Adeyinka, who collected over N40m from the
accounts in Union Bank and Prudent Bank. The EFCC also claimed that Fayose
sometimes in 2004, transferred $100,000 to Tonee Orubuloye, the son of the
current Vice-Chancellor, Ado Ekiti University through a banker, Abiola
Ayobola while he was working at the Standard Trust Bank (STB). The EFCC
however, said it was yet to ascertain the exact amount that had been
diverted in the course of awarding and executing road construction and
supply of cars contracts.
The Federal Government had in July charged both Olatunji and James before a
Federal High Court over the criminal conversion of the poultry project’s
N1.3billion. James was granted N25m bail with two sureties while trial in
the matter was adjourned till October 6. Also on September 4, the Federal
Government, in a 10-page charge with No. FHC/L/179C/2006 filed by Mr. Seidu
Atteh of the EFCC filed an amended 26-count charge involving a sum of
N419,023,310.75k against Olatunji, James, Biological Concepts Nig. Ltd, and
Avian Specialties Nig. Ltd, who were accused of converting and transferring
the money belonging to the Ekiti State Government between April to September
2004, allegedly into private pockets.
Fayose's bank foreign
It claimed that its investigation had revealed that Fayose operated several
foreign accounts allegedly opened after he became governor in 2003. The
commission backed its claim with Fayose’ accounts details and credit cards,
which were allegedly found in possession of his personal assistant, Olatunji.
Bribe to Ekiti
The commission stated that members of the Ekiti House of Assembly visited
James in Ibadan twice, where they were allegedly given the N2million, and
hosted to a party on the second visit during which Fayose facilitated the
disbursement of unspecified amount of money to them. Fayose allegedly gave
N2million to each of the 19 members of the House in May and June 2005 to
facilitate the impeachment of the Deputy-Governor, Mr. Biodun Aluko.
The move against Fayose...
Initially, Members of the state House of Assembly resisted pressure to
impeach him, despite the huge evidence provided by the EFCC. But when EFCC
tightened the noose on them, with a threat to prosecute them, based on their
own atrocities, they moved against Fayose, albeit controversially. Two
parallel investigation panels emerged. The suspended Ekiti State Chief
Judge, Justice Kayode Bamisile first constituted a seven-man panel, but the
leadership of the state House of Assembly under former Speaker, Hon. Friday
Aderemi dismissed the panel, accusing the judge of picking Fayose's cronies.
It suspended the Chief Judge and appointed Justice Jide Aladejana as acting
Chief Judge. While the Bamisile's panel was making pronouncements, clearing
the governor and his deputy of all the allegations, the new panel went into
action and found Fayose guilty.
His history of
No doubt, the corruption case against Fayose was the climax. But prior to
this, he was involved in many other controversies that left the state in
tatters. Just few months into his tenure, Fayose clashed with Governor Bola
Ahmed Tinubu of Lagos State. Tinubu along with former Ogun State Governor,
Olusegun Osoba and others had gone to Iyin Ekiti for the burial of the
mother of Opeyemi Bamidele, Tinubu’s Commissioner for Youths and Sports. The
trip was on the eve of a local government bye-election in the area. Fayose
saw the visit as a tactics to drum up support for an AD candidate. In a
commando-like style, Fayose deployed soldiers and policemen to cordon-off
areas occupied by the unsolicited guests. It was a distressing moment for
the "unwanted" visitors. The conflict was later settled harmoniously. But
before then, Fayose got a dose of “Eko for show” from Tinubu. Fayose was
attacked by some thugs who prevented him from registering his presence at an
occasion at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) in Lagos.
The fence and gate of Fayose’s house at Ikosi, Lagos were also pulled down
by the state Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning for standing on
the way of road construction.
Clash with Taye Fasubaa...
The former governor also ran into another clash with a local government
chairman in the state. In September 2004, the Chairman of Ado-Ekiti Local
Government, Mr. Taye Fasubaa, was attacked by people suspected to be
assassins. Though the local government boss managed to escape, one of his
assailants died in the process.
Accusing fingers were pointed at the governor. He was alleged to be the
mastermind of the attempted murder. But he showered curses on the
assailants, saying "anybody involved in the assassination attempt would not
know peace, I am convinced this is an external aggression by my political
opponents who are bent on destabilising the state because of 2007 ambition.
I have since last week noticed that some people are hell bent on destroying
the good image of my administration." Fayose's name has not been cleared
Brouhaha over academic
The governor also fought some workers in the state for divulging vital state
information to the public.
After which attention shifted to his academic qualifications. The governor
defended his credentials and struggled to protect his name. His father,
Pastor John Olorunfemi Oluwayose also joined his son to put the record
straight. The father at the state Election Petition Tribunal gave evidences
to explain the governor's academic background. Indeed, the pillars of the
court's judgment at the appeal rested on his father's evidences which the
court accepted in totality.
Brothers at war...
Fayose's life of controversy shifted to his immediate family. In October
2004, one of the governor's brothers, Emmanuel granted an interview
castigating Fayose. Emmanuel publicly chided the governor, threatening to
destroy him. But the governor condemned his brother's venom, saying he fell
apart with his siblings because of his refusal to share with them the state
money. "I cannot compromise with him because I am not in Ekiti to serve the
interest of my siblings but that of Ekiti people who voted for me," he said.
And the naked dance by the Fayoses went on. The governor's father polarised
the matter the more when he said he had warned the governor to be wary of
his brother because of his (Emmanuel) destructive tendencies. "I warned my
son to be wary of the insatiable economic desires of some of his siblings
before he took oath of office. Emmanuel has been doing that. Even though he
has benefited immensely from his brother's administration against my
The murder of Mr. Tunji Omojola, assassination attempts on Chief Afe
Babalola among others and the killing of Dr. Ayo Daramola were the other
issues that created crisis in Ekiti State. In May 2005, Omojola was killed
in Ifako Ekiti. Omojola, based in Holland, was visiting home to prepare
for his wedding scheduled to hold in November. He was strangled to death.
Fayose was accused of being behind the murder. In fact, it was said that the
governor supervised the event. Babalola also wrote a petition alleging that
Fayose had sent his hit squad after him. In the petition dated June 4, 2005,
Babalola said: "I'm afraid that unless I cry out now, I may be guilty of
carelessness, negligence or complacency," saying "please note that should
anything happen to me, any member of my family or staff, Fayose would be
held solely and wholly responsible."
Babalola described the former governor as an enemy. "I have helped in
building bridges across the country and I am loved and admired by all people
I have had dealings with. Fayose is the only exception and only enemy that I
know," he said. But Fayose described the legal luminary's petition as
spurious. The former governor said: "I know that Chief Babalola will one day
come and apologise for accusing Fayose wrongly in the way others had done in
the past." Fayose linked Babalola’s allegation to his running battle with
Ado Ekiti indigenes particularly the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti. He said "you know
that Chief Afe Babalola is from Ado-Ekiti and all the problems, all the
unfortunate situations that have happened in Ekiti State have all taken
place in Ado-Ekiti in terms of criticisms and differences between the Ewi of
Ado-Ekiti and myself, the Ado-Ekiti Council Chairman and myself. So, Afe
Babalola’s allegation is in the same line."
Babalola was not the only person from Ekiti State that raised alarm over an
attempt to eliminate them by the governor. A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Femi
Falana once said the killer squad masterminded by the governor was after
His alleged killer
The murder of Dr. Daramola in August 2006 changed the long list of
controversies trailing Fayose . It was alleged that he used his killer squad
to carry out this dastardly act. The face-off between Fayose and his former
deputy, Surveyor Abiodun Aluko led to the controversial removal of the
latter. Aluko was accused of anti-party activities by the governor. Words
were traded. Aluko fought hard to retain his position but lost out.
No doubt, it has all along been a harvest of crisis for Fayose. His
activities and inactivities have negatively affected the state as a whole.
How long will it take this young state to recover? Only time will tell.