By Simeon Nwakaudu Wherever you go today in Nigeria, the story of the outstanding performance of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has become the trending item. For 22 months, this story kept on filtering into the ears of the immediate past President of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. As has become the common practice of…
From Eberekpe Ogho
While not holding brief for the former governor of Abia State, Dr. Uzor Orji Kalu, with his case with the EFCC, it is imperative to state that the time is nigh for the agency to get its acts right and together. This is so that Nigerians and the rest of the world do not start seeing the agency, as some puppet being managed by the other side of government and some power that be to bully those who refuse to toe the line to keep the dominance of power and political and economic irresponsibility everywhere in the country.
Has the EFCC or any agency for that matter charged with the responsibility of pursuing justice in the country asked the government of Abia State why to date the pension of the former governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has not been paid while others continue to receive theirs? Can there be any injustice and fraud worse than this?
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission since it was founded in 2003, as a law enforcement agency that investigates financial crimes, such as advance fee fraud and money laundering has done tremendously well; it has helped in no small way to check the excesses of officials, who think they can do away with their financial excesses and get away with it without anybody questioning them.
After 14 years of founding the agency, has the agency succeeded in pursuing its course? Many think it has derailed while some think the body has never been professional in its dealings right from day one; that it is more or less a psychological bully that bullies people out of their wits end. More so that the agency itself is a crime unto itself that it has not succeeded in addressing and yet posed to deal with the mountain of corruption and crime in the country. How possible is this?
The EFCC as an agent in the country is replicated in other countries and in those countries they function professionally and occupied by professionals, who do not just go about their duties based on hearsay or making itself a bully against anybody who does not appeal to their fancy.
If it is an investigative crime agency and staffed by professionals, it should carry out its duties with the same professionalism without basing its investigative drive on hearsay, which is beginning to make the body seem to be unserious and created to fight the biddings of its masters rather than dealing with the matters it was created for.
There are times when one thinks Nigerians do not need to be told who the corrupt in the country are before they start responding to that evil that has nearly crippled the country. How does one explain a situation of an individual, who was regarded as a nobody and turns out to be one of the richest names around for the simple fact that he became a politician? Politicians, we all know, whether in this country or elsewhere, are known to be civil or public servants and when those public servants begin to live well above their means, questions should be asked and the hammer of persecution should be raised and allowed to fall. But it is not happening yet or only in handful while many out there continue to make mockery of the system, including the occupiers of the agency that is supposed to be transparent and professional in all its dealings with public and private individuals and concerns.
But this is not happening, instead, and this may be justified and true, that the agency is not getting it right and is flogging the wrong horses while those who are supposed to answer to the law are allowed to walk free on our streets as saints, creating room for the justifiable idea of witch-hunting.
I am particularly interested in the case of Dr. Uzor Orji Kalu, the former governor of Abia State. He is not a political saint, nor is any politician in the world a saint, whether that politician is an Obama of the world or the Donald Trumps or Theresa Mays or the Chief Theodores of the Nigerian political terrain.
But it seems the EFCC has a particular interest in the Abia politician and businessman that is being driven by some forces only known to the EFCC and the forces whose interest it is to make sure the businessman is nailed to the cross where his feet would not get to mother earth, ever.
The EFCC should be able to study the psychology and philosophy of the case and, of course, the legal ends against him and find a balance somewhere and then make up its mind to throw it out of its case file and begin to pursue matters of dire national importance.
What is the case against the former governor? Succinctly put, when he was the governor of his state between 1999 until 2007 when he left office, he allegedly embezzled the state’s funds.
One will ask that other ex-governors, ex-presidents and ex-vice-presidents be subjected to the same hammer of the law and the investigation of the EFCCs scrutiny. If this is not happening, it means there are some faults somewhere with the agency or the agency knows clearly enough with others to properly examine the psychology and philosophy of every case brought to it that it does not merit the furtherance of any act being taken.
The sad part of the story between the agency and Kalu is that this particular case against the ex-governor started when he opted, as a political child where others like the Asiwaju who has mastered the cunning and craft of the Nigerian politics had kicked against the doctoring of the country’s constitution to pave way for the selfish interest of a further presidential ride of one of the political bigwigs of the then PDP. Would this case have been raised against him if the businessman had minded his business and decided to stick to the business aspect of politics, as Dangote and Adenuga have continued to do? Or is Nigeria becoming a country where one is expected to use the eyes, not the mouth and pretend that all is well and fine and all will be well and fine with that individual? Probably, Adenuga would have been in the same fate as Kalu when he too had tried to be political by speaking against the recreation of the country’s constitution by some element if he had not taken the path of wisdom and escaped out of the country from the political warlords, who think they have the power to make and destroy.
What EFCC and probably those who want the head of the former governor on a platter do not know and have not bothered to investigate is that Kalu did not go into politics as a pauper; at 19, he was already into his first millions and had started cutting his teeth in the business world and those successes had gavalnised his entrance into the world of the big players either in politics or in business.
Kalu is called corrupt presently, but was he corrupt when he brought out his money, energy and time to give birth to the merger that brought about the Peoples Democratic Party or he became corrupt when he said, most vocally, that the constitution should not be doctored to satisfy the interest of one against the interest of all?
Another thing, perhaps, the EFCC should be aware of is that the former governor used the meagre allocations both from the Federal Government and the little revenues generated internally to achieve the little within the power of the government at the time, or, maybe the grudge against him is that as governor of his state, he would have used his personal money to enrich the state. While charity is lofty and personal, government must be allowed to carry out its duties and obligations to the people, and good thinking should attest to the fact that he did; because there is nobody in the state as at then as civil servant who would say the governor messed up with the state’s workers salary, as at when due. Or that the Abians he governed wanted him to turn the state into some sort of paradise with the little allocations he got from the central government because he had enough personal riches to throw around. That was daft thinking, especially now when the allocation from Federal Government has multiplied and majority of the governors have turned themselves into corporate thieves and rogues.
The EFCC should revisit the case, this time with an open mind, unless someone in the other political closet is saying that to stand on the ground of principle and truth is a political sin that must be punished because in Kalus words he has asked many times: How does the country explain a situation where someone, who could not buy a party form to register his or her political interest and affiliation only to emerge with all the money in the world just because the person has become a politician and that politician walks the streets a free person and nobody and no agency like the EFCC asks questions? This is unfortunate and the agency should have its lens properly cleaned or justice would continue to be a free ride for all incoming fools.
The Senate has again rejected for the second time the nomination of Ibrahim Magu to fully head the EFCC, which many believed was based on the petition written to the Senate by the Department of State Services, DSS, against the man, which disqualified him for the position without in-depth investigation. Maybe, the depth of investigation that Magu’s examination lacked should be extended to the petitions that brought about the case against Kalu, the psychology of the case should be reassessed and the agency be able to fish out the deliberate lies to hang a fellow for the simple fear that that fellow may end up, rocking the boat if allowed to navigate the waters as Donald Trump is presently doing by putting the United States first above all else.
Or, maybe, there is somebody somewhere who does not want to read between the lines of the petition, who has made up the mind that Kalu must be silenced or everything must be done to stifle whatever political ambitions he may still have and nursing, but the truth remains that the only person who can stop Kalu’s political ambition – if he has any in the first place – is Kalu himself and not the amount of lies and falsehoods that have been sold to the public.