By Bashir Adefaka
On December 14, 2013, reprieve came the way of a former Chairman, Board of Directors, Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George, through a judgment by the Supreme Court which voided the two years jail term which he (George) served after being convicted for fraud by a Lagos High Court on October 26, 2009. The apex court said George was tried under a law that did not exist at the time he served on the NPA Board, hence he was let off the five-and-a-half years of the albatross hung on his neck.
Others freed by the apex court with George, who was military governor, old Ondo State; Deputy National Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Director-General of the Presidential Campaign that produced the Yar’Adua/Jonathan presidency in 2007, were former Managing Director of the NPA, Mr. Aminu Dabo, Alhaji Abdullahi Aminu Tafida, Captain Oluwasegun Abidoye, Alhaji Zanna Maidaribe and Mr. Sule Aliyu.
At home in Ikoyi
George, a retired Navy Commodore, who was Aso Rock Principal Officer during the Abacha/Diya regime, told Sunday Vanguard that even though his prison experience served as a period of self- rediscovery, the curse emanating from the scheming that took him to prison would never leave those who convolutedly did it unless they seek restitution and pray “God Almighty for forgiveness.”
George and time
The PDP chieftain, who, it was gathered, has a particular respect of being called ‘Oga’ by President Goodluck Jonathan, has always demonstrated the lessons of his military training as he considers nothing too much to keep appointment so that whoever he so gave one was never disappointed. The Atona Oodua of Yorubaland, who appreciated Sunday Vanguard for allowing him to state his own side of his travails prior to the Supreme Court verdict, had twice flown into Lagos from the presence of Mr. President so as not to ever “disappoint this young reporter.”
“Nigeria has invested so much in me than for me to misbehave or mess up with the nation’s image. I will forever be grateful to Nigeria for the kind of military discipline that I have,” said the retired commodore.
“I need to talk about the whole experience just for generations coming behind to have the true picture of what actually happened. And I am saying it now so that it should never happen to anybody again. People who have the opportunity to be in positions of power should never use it to persecute. These are wicked people, who thought that they could do what they did to us and get away with it.”
“I am not a lawyer. A senior lawyer of Yoruba extraction was part of those behind my imprisonment, he was among those who drafted the charges because he was a consultant to EFCC. And I have said it several times that if he does not ask for forgiveness from God before he dies, he will go through a worse experience.
“Now I thank the Almighty God that all those implicated in the matter and I are now back. I am not sick and I am not mentally derailed. Can you imagine the condition under which I was sent to prison on an absolutely non-existing law? There was no law, yet some people said there was a law-breaking! Can you imagine that?”
On the fiat to prosecute him.
Read the full interview in tomorrow’s edition of Sunday Vanguard.