Since the inception of this administration and its flagship anti-corruption drive, recovering satanic sums of money from the backyards or bunkers of some of those who served in the preceding five years, has become routine.
If my memory serves me right, it started with former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (rtd), who was alleged to have concealed a whopping $1 million in a freshly dug soak away pit at his Badagry, Lagos State home. Not long after, we learnt that Amosu only followed in the steps of his immediate superior, former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh(rtd.). Another $1 million was said to have been discovered in one of Badeh’s houses located at 6, Ogun River Street, Maitama, Abuja.
An equally obscene amount of money was said to have been discovered at the Abuja home of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke. This was before we learnt of the seizure of some $153m and an $18 million house with furnishing worth $2 million! By the time we arrived at this juncture, it was easy to conclude that these characters only went to churches and mosques on worship days; they have no other god than Mammon, the spirit that controls money.
We have been spared stories of these incredible recoveries until sometime last week when members of the Joint Investigation Panel, which probed the legislative elections in Rivers State, displayed wads of money said to have amounted to N111.3m at the Force Headquarters in Abuja.
They claimed that the sum was a part of the N360m illegally expended on the inducement of staffers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the Rivers State Government officials. This, according to the Panel caused the manipulation of the December 10, 2016 rerun polls in the state. 23 INEC officials were said to have confessed to the malfeasance but we neither saw the parade of these officials nor were their names given!
And then enter the mother of all discoveries and parades on Friday. The EFCC via a statement from its spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, told a stunned citizenry about a special operation conducted by its operatives on a building belonging to a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu, in Kaduna.
Recovered from this operation were dizzying sums including $9,772,800 (Nine Million, Seven Hundred and Seven Two Thousand, Eight Hundred United States Dollars) and another sum of £74,000 (Seventy Four Thousand Pounds Sterling), all in cash! The monies were said to have been recovered from a fire-proof safe following the receipt of credible intelligence to the effect that suspected proceeds of crime were believed to have been hidden in the slums of Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna.
Expectedly, this information has thrown Nigerians, into a frenzy. How else should a people, currently hard-pressed by an unprecedented economic situation react to such a haul in the home of one person whose last known address was the NNPC – a place from which Nigeria has been serially raped for decades?
But again shouldn’t there be some caution by government agencies? For starters, I find this display of money not only prejudicial but perhaps almost as obscene as the theft and compromises from which they emanated. Why torture us with such an offensive sight, isn’t the mere mention of the sums enough torment for our already famished souls?
As I saw pictures of these recoveries, I couldn’t but imagine what the perception of members of the international community would be of us . Has Nigeria become such a jungle that piles of monies recovered from thieves will be displayed on television and not in the court of law where the accused is tried? Who exactly are we trying to convince here, the people who will throw emotional tantrums or the courts?
Concerning the Yakubu case, the man is said to be in detention and unable to defend himself at the moment. The EFCC gives us no opportunity to hear the alternative point of view while most Nigerians have already been forced to hate the man ahead of conviction.
This is not an attempt to exonerate Yakubu, given that he would not be the first Nigerian to have “fallen the hand” of the people, but we have seen enough of this drama to remain skeptical until we hear the other side.
And I will cite two examples: Mrs Allison Madueke denied owning the seized $153m. She also punctured the story the EFCC told us about her country home saying that it was also declared with the Code of Conduct Bureau.
She has not been contradicted till date.
Secondly, the Rivers State Government did not only deny bribing INEC officials, it challenged its accusers to provide proof and present the repentant officials. Again, silence has been the only word from the other quarter.
Now, we must commend the EFCC for this recovery drive, we must also condemn plunderers of the country’s resources, but we should in the same breath insists that things must be done properly. Debasing a process is as bad as stealing. No form of corruption weakens a system more than the other!