NIGERIA: Profiles in corruption

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BY GBENGA OKE

The ambiguity in the anti-corruption war in the country could not have been better reflected than the recently reported move by the immediate past governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu to organise an anti-corruption summit for African leaders early next year.

During an advocacy visit on the proposed summit to President Sirleaf Ellen Johnson of Liberia scheduled to hold in South Africa, Kalu bemoaned the manner of African leaders who he claimed would amass wealth at the expense of their citizens. The irony of it is that Kalu as at the time of the declaration was under bail from the court on allegations of corruption. Kalu remains innocent until proven guilty.

But the irony is further stretched by the case of Senator Ahmed Yerima, the former governor of Zamfara State who was accused by erstwhile boss of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu of pratically stealing Zamfara funds stepping into the Senate and becoming Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption in 2007. Many other high profile politically exposed persons have emerged from one office to another with the baggage of corruption going with them and living on public funds.

Orji Uzor Kalu – Former Governor of Abia State
On 27 July 2007, Kalu was arraigned before an Abuja High court on a 107-count charge of money laundering, official corruption and criminal diversion of public funds in excess of N5 billion. EFCC accused Kalu of transferring billions of Naira belonging to the Abia State government to his Slok Airlines.

He was accused of transferring the funds over a period of time from the defunct Manny Bank (now part of Fidelity Bank) to Slok’s account at Inland Bank. He was also alleged to have, between 1999 and 2007, moved various sums of government money into Slok Investment, Slok Nigeria Limited, Slok Incorporated and other companies owned by him.

Joshua Chibi Dariye – Former Governor of Plateau State
In July 2007, Dariye was arraigned before an Abuja High Court on a 23-count charge involving the sum of N700 million. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges and was subsequently granted bail. Despite the allegations brought against him, he won a senatorial seat in the 2011 polls. He is now a senator representing Plateau Central.

Saminu Turaki – Former Governor Jigawa State
Turaki was docked on a 32-count charge on allegations that he stole about N36 billion from the treasury over an eight-year period. He was charged along with three companies he was accused of using to siphon the funds. The three companies are INC Natural Resources Limited, Arkel Construction Nigeria Limited, Wildcat Construction Limited and Ahmed Mohammed, an accomplice said to be at large. After a brief detention, Turaki was granted bail in the sum N100 million on 27 July 2007 by Justice Binta Murtala Nyako.

Chimaroke Nnamani – Former Governor Enugu state
Former Enugu State governor, Chimaroke Nnamani spent four years in the Senate after leaving office in 2007. He was arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on a 105-count charge for allegedly stealing the sum of N5.3 billion. He pleaded not guilty and was subsequently granted bail.

Jolly Nyame – Taraba State
Nyame was docked on a 41-count charge in July 2007. He was alleged to have embezzled the sum of N1.3 billion. At his trial, a graphic illustration was given by Mr. Dennis Orkuma Nev, a Permanent Secretary at the Taraba State Government House on how Nyame defrauded the state. The witness told the court how Nyame directed him to raise the sum of N100 million being an amount proposed for preparations for the visit of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to the state in 2006.

He also told the court that he used his discretion and raised three different memos to the former governor in which he requested for N 32.3 million, N27 million and N42 million respectively. Part of the allegations against Nyame was that he collected N180 million from USAB International Nigeria Limited. The money was a kick-back from a N250 million contract awarded to the company for the supply of stationery to the state government between January and February 2005.

Lucky Igbinedion – Former Governor Edo state
In 2008, Igbinedion was arraigned by EFCC before the Federal High Court, Enugu on a 191- count charge of corruption, money laundering and embezzlement of N2.9b. In a plea bargain arrangement, the EFCC through its counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacob, reduced the 191- count charge to one-count charge. Part of the terms of the plea bargain were that Lucky Igbinedion would refund N500m, three properties and plead guilty to the one-count charge. He agreed to the terms, paid up and was subsequently released.

However, last February, the EFCC appealed the judgment, asking for stiffer sanctions. Igbinedion will now face a N25 billion fraud trial at the Federal High Court in Benin, a development some observers have described as politically motivated.

Boni Haruna – Former Governor of Adamawa state
Boni Haruna was also arraigned before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on a 28-count charge of embezzling the sum of N161 million. He pleaded not guilty to the alleged crimes and secured bail from the court and after applied for the release of his travel documents to enable him honour a medical appointment in the US. The court granted his request and he made the trip. Upon his return, he gave back his travel document to the court and has been attending his trial. The case is still going on.

Abubakar Audu – Former Kogi state governor
Abubakar Audu was originally arraigned on 30 November 2006 on an 80-count charge of fraud and embezzlement of over N4 billion. The charge has suffered several setbacks, as he had thrice approached the Supreme Court and returned to the Kogi State High Court, where his trial is going on before Justice Saidu Tanko Husseini.

Otunba Gbenga Daniel – Former Governor of Ogun state
In April, EFCC docked former Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State at the Ogun State High Court, Abeokuta, on a 38-count charge of fraudulent conversion of land, failure to declare assets, stealing and corruptly obtaining properties.

His counsel, Professor Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, filed a reply to the counter-affidavit filed by the EFCC opposing the application. However, Daniel lost the N20 million case he instituted against EFCC at an Abeokuta High Court for unlawful arrest and detention. His case is still on.

Dimeji Bankole – Former Speaker of the House of Representatives
Dimeji Bankole on June 8, 2011was docked by EFCC over a 16-count charge relating to contract inflation. On 13th June 2011, EFCC dragged him and Usman Bayero Nafada, his deputy, to court over a 17-count charge of alleged misappropriation of N10 billion loan borrowed while they were in office. But the case was thrown out on 31 January 2012. However, the N9 billion contract scam hanging on his neck is still ongoing at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

Ndudi Elumelu
The member of the House of Representatives from Delta State and former chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Power, Elumelu, was docked at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over N5.2 billion fraud charges brought against him by EFCC. But the presiding judge, Justice Garba Umar, ruled that he had “no case to answer”. However, the same case is still pending at the FCT High Court, before Justice Adebukola Banjoko.

Abdullahi Adamu – Former Governor of Nasarawa
He was arraigned in court on 3rd March 2010 alongside 18 others on a 149-count charge of fraud involving over N15 billion. The case began to suffer delay right from the beginning with the transfer of the presiding judge to the Asaba Division of Federal High Court. Justice Marcel Awokulehin, who earned notoriety over his handling of the case involving James Ibori, the former governor of Delta State, was asked to take over the trial of the case. However, Adamu’s trial also suffered another setback, as Awokulehin, on 27 April 2010, voluntarily withdrew from from the case, citing personal reasons and “in conformity with his conscience”.

Danjuma Goje – Former Governor of Gombe state
He was arraigned on 20 October 2011 on allegations of milking his state to the tune of N52 billion. EFCC has already asked the lawyer to return Adamu’s file due to what the agency perceived as conflict of interest.

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