Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Tropical Gangsters: The Thieving Nigerian Public and Corporate Officials
Dan Azumi Kofarmata
November 25, 2005
Corruption is increasingly recognized as a pre-eminent problem in the developing world. Bribery, extortion, fraud, kickbacks, and collusion have resulted in retarded economies, predator elites, and political instability. Nigeria is the best representative of developing nations afflicted by this characterisation. The annual ratings of countries according to how corrupt they are perceived by people and or organisations wishing to do international business in the comity of nations by the Transparency International (TI) and other financial rating agencies the world over, attest to this unfortunate stigma on Nigerians and Nigeria respectively.
Recent events on the subject of corruption and international crimes; particularly financial scams and money laundering involving Nigerians leaves so much to be desired. Good examples of those already apprehended by the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC) are: the arrest and convictions of some Nigerians (Messrs Chief Emmanuel Nwude, Mrs. Amaka Anajema, Mr. Nzeribe Edeh Okoli and others) who ruined a commercial bank in Brazil through international scam (popularly known as 419) involving US$242 million; the case of an 86-year-old Hong Kong woman, Juliana Ching defrauded of the about US$4.8 million by some Nigerian fraudsters; the arrest of Otunba Johnson Oyewole Fasawe, reputed to be a close associate of President Olusegun Obasanjo, for failing to repay a huge sum he borrowed from an unnamed bank; arrest and detention of Mr. Marc Wabara, Chairman/ Chief Executive, Hallmark Bank Plc, in connection with about $58 million (N7.5bn) belonging to the Nigeria – Sao Tome Joint Development Zone (JDZ) trapped in the bank.
The most astonishing recent local development on anti-corruption war was the arrest and detention by the EFCC of the now former Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PDTF), Alhaji Hussein Jalo, reputed to be a close associate of Governor Ahmed Makarfi of Kaduna State. Least we forget, Barrister Hussein Jalo (the twin brother of Hussein Jalo, the IBB political sharp shooter) was appointed by President Obasanjo only on July 20, 2005 upon the recommendation of Governor Ahmed Makarfi. He replaced (Dr.) Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar (alias “Mai Rago”), who was also removed from office soon after President Obasanjo had recently renewed his tenure of office for another five years. The circumstances that led to his abrupt removal have not been explained to the public by the Presidency to date.
Within three months of taking over from (Dr.) Yusuf, Barrister Hussein Jalo went for the kill. For details, please see EFCC Website postings at: http://www.efccnigeria.org. At least, the EFCC had recovered of about N32million and four luxury Jeeps, a Honda Accord and Peugeot 406 from Hussein Jalo. It is also important for the public to know that, while Barrister Hussein Jalo was busy quenching his insatiable thirst for money and luxury, hundreds of Nigerian students under his care were left stranded both in Nigeria and abroad without payment for their University tuition and allowances. Majority of them took to doing menial jobs to pay their bills etc to avoid being dragged to courts by landlords and utility companies. In this case, Mr. President deserved commendation for listening and taking quick action to remedy the plight of these scholars abandoned in wilderness and saved Nigeria from further international embarrassments. Mr. President should go the extra mile by sanctioning Governor Ahmad Makarfi who staunchly recommended Hussein Jalo to him for the appointment as the Executive Sectary of PTDF. Unless this line of action is adopted, we shall continue to have thieves recommending thieves for lucrative appointments.
However, the most embarrassing of all the financial scams so far recorded officially by the Nigerian authorities (and some foreign countries) involving high profile public office holders are those of Governors Joshua Chibi Dariye of Plateau State and Chief Dr. DSP Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State (now fugitives) respectively. Another one was the arrest and conviction of the former Nigerian Inspector-general (IG) of Police Alhaji Tafa Balogun for stealing about 17 billion naira from the Nigeria Police Force. These three cases stand out of all the cases either completed or awaiting trial and or conviction by the EFCC. The cases involving Dariye and Alamieyeseigha are very unique in the sense that these State Governors were arrested and brought before the law courts in Britain for their alleged involvement in money laundry activities. All the two have now jumped their bails and returned to Nigeria where, by the courtesy of section 308 of our Constitution, they are immune from arrest and prosecution while still in office. The case of the now convicted and jailed for 6 months former IG of police shows how terribly bad corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of the Nigerian elites entrusted with running our public affairs.
There are many others pending cases either at the levels of investigation and or prosecution. There are equally substantial undetected cases. There are also cases that are very well established and known to the public which the federal authorities, but for whatever reasons, have not been investigated. This is where the paradox and tragedy of the Obasanjo’s anti-corruption war lies. A lot have been said and written about this issue of selectivity and unfair pursuit of the exercise. What Nigerians need to do for now, is to apply enough pressure to nudge President Obasanjo into doing the right thing in prosecuting the anti-corruption war. It is only if this is done that Nigerians can claim ownership of the war. Otherwise, as things are now, one can only call it Obasanjo and Nuhu Ribadu’s adventurism in the murky waters of tropical gangster-ism.
The civil society must rise not only to challenge the modus oparandi being used by President Obasanjo and his EFCC, but ensure that they own the war on economic and financial crimes and extend it to political and judicial crimes. Nigerians must actively participate and exercise simple civil duties and responsibilities. Doing otherwise will make us become as guilty as the perpetrators of these heinous crimes in our polity.
Let me just update our reading community of the latest public disclosures on corruption that have come into limelight. It has been reported in the Nigerian media that, Governor Ahmad Muazu of Bauchi State is also involved in some financial improprieties and or scams to the tune of 800 million naira. This huge sum of money was used to print 2004 Official Calendars and Diaries. Of course, Governor Muazu denied it just like his other colleagues in the league of thieving public and private office holders.
However, there is a new phenomenon taking place in Nigeria now. I call it the “Dariye-Alamieyeseigha-Tafa Balogun effect. This effect is sending shock waves to all the disclosed and undisclosed thieving public and private office holders. The way this effect works is to make these felons to immediately start disposing their ill-gotten money and properties both at home and broad through third parties/proxies. In this way, it will be difficult to nail them as it happened to the tackles Dariye, Alamieyeseigha and Tafa Balogun. For example, I have first hand information that, Governor Adamu Aleiro of Kebbi State has sold his recently constructed private mansion (not his London mansion) in Birnin Kebbi to the Kebbi State Government at a whopping sum of about two billion naira (N2 billion). He is also trying to dispose his other properties in Abuja and elsewhere to avoid the “Dariye-Alamieyeseigha-Tafa Balogun effect”. This effect is as contagious as the avian flu.
Similarly, his contemporary in Sokoto State, Governor Attahiru Bafarawa has since sold one of his Abuja mansions to the federal authorities through the Presidency. This was done without going through due process mechanisms. Nigerians deserve to know how much was paid to Governor Bafarawa for the mansion acquired from him and put to use by the late military leader of the Republic of Niger who was on exile in Nigeria until his death. Also, now that he is dead, what becomes of that property bought at a price three times the going market price when it was purchased? Likewise, impeccable sources tell me that Governor Saminu Turaki of Jigawa State has acquired the Burkina Faso nationality and he even has a Burkina Passport; in addition to owning property in Burkina and Malaysia. This is his own way of insuring himself against the debilitating “Dariye-Alamieyeseigha-Tafa Balogun effect”.
The poor people of Zamfara State are also on the trail of their profligate Governor, Ahmad Sani (Yariman Bakura). Governor Ahmad’s brother is being accused of financial scam to the tune of about two billion naira (see http://www.deherald.com/zamfara.htm, for details).Yobe State is also not left out as Governor Bukar Abba Ibrahim is being accused of misappropriating about 270 million naira (N270million) of health sector funds loaned from the World Bank. It has also been reported that retired General (Chief) Olabode George (former Chairman of the corruption ridden Nigeria Port Authority) was sighted at one the EFCC offices in Abuja where he had gone to chat with Ribadu’s anti-corruption men and women. For details see the EFCC Website at: http://www.efccnigeria.org.
Please, don’t get bored with my rather lengthy update as it has also been reported that the Federal Government on Thursday, November 24, 2005 announced the removal of Alhaji Bello Lafiaji as the chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). My prayer is that, I hope it is not another Tafa Balogun that is being repeated again. Nigerians are eagerly waiting for an explanation on this twist of events, as Alhaji Bello’s tenure was recently renewed for another five years by President Olusegun Obasanjo and he even received President Obasanjo’s letter commending him for his appointment as the Secretary-General of the International Drug Enforcement Conference.
Least we forget, the convicted former IG of Police, Tafa Balogun was praised by President Obasanjo several times and even, crowned his appreciation for Tafa’s excellent handling of the heavily rigged 2003 general elections with an award of National Honour in 2004. There are several cases of this nature but for space and time, I would not mention them here. It is now time for the civic society to rise up to their responsibilities and take ownership of the battle against corruption and other vices tearing our society. Folding our arms akimbo, will only amounts to complacency. The government cannot fight it alone without the input and co-ownership by the civil society and all Nigerian citizens.
In conclusion, I would like to recommend the following seminal books for reading to all the stakeholders in this enterprise of war against corruption (financial, economic and political and moral corruption): 1.) “Controlling Corruption” (Paperback, 1991) by Robert E. Klitgaard, 2.) “Corrupt Cities: A Practical Guide to Cure and Prevention” (Paperback, April 2000), by Robert E. Klitgaard, Ronald Maclean-Abaroa, H. Lindsey Parris and 3.)“Corruption and Government: Causes, Consequences, and Reform” by Susan Rose-Ackerman (Paperback - June 28, 1999). These are good starting materials for those dispose to academic way of looking at the issue. I thank you for your patience.
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.