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Trappings of Goje’s detention, arraignment

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BY JOHN BULUS
THE talk about Senator Danjuma Goje’s arrest, detention and arraignment at the Federal High Court in Gombe was refused to wear out, and it seems the talk will continue for some time to come.

During his eight years reign as Governor of Gombe State, he made news from every conceivable stance. This, perhaps, accounts for why he continued to make the rounds even when he exited office and the reins of power.

The crime

For starters, Goje , who won his Gombe Central Senatorial Zone seat in the April general election was recently dragged to court by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC over financial embezzlement. The charges are legion, 18 of them. The charge sheet reads in part:

GOJE

“That you, Alhaji Danjuma Goje “M”, former Executive Governor of Gombe State, Nigeria; sometimes between May 2003 and May 2011, in Gombe within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, with attempt to covert, conspired with others to conceal or disguise the sum of 5,000,000,000.00 (Five Billion Naira only) property of Gombe State Government, which was, or in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, represented proceeds of an illegal act, contrary to Section 17 of the Money laundering (Prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under Section 14 of the same Act as amended, modifies and retained under Section 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011(As amended).

“That you Alhaji Danjuma Goje “M”, former Executive Governor of Gombe State, Nigeria; Alhaji Sabo Mohammed Tumu ‘M’ being Gombe state Government House Supplier; and others, between May 2003 and May 2011 within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, with attempt to covert, conspired among yourselves and others to conceal or disguise the sum of 1,920,000.00 (One Billion, Nine Hundred and Twenty Million Naira only, property of Gombe State government, which was, or in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, represented proceeds of an illegal act, contrary to Section 17 of the Money Laundering (prohibition Act) 2004 and also punishable under Section 14 of the same act as amended, modified and retained under Sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 respectively of the money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended).

“That you Alhaji Danjuma Goje ‘M’, former Executive Governor of Gombe State, Nigeria; Alhaji Aliyu Ubadone El_Nafaty ‘M’, former Executive Chairman, State Universal basic Education Board, Gombe; and others, sometimes between May 2003 and May 2011, in Gombe, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, with attempt to covert, conspired among yourselves and others to conceal or disguise the sum of N1, 661, 451, 371.64 (one Billion, Six Hundred and Sixty one Million, Four Hundred and Fifty One Thousand, three Hundred and Seventy-One Naira, sixty Four Kobo only, property of Gombe State Government, which was, or in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, represented proceeds of an illegal act, contrary to Section 17 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition act) 2004 and also punishable under Section 14 of the same Act as amended, modified and retained under sections 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (As Amended).

“That you, Alhaji Danjuma Goje “M’, former Executive Governor of Gombe State, Nigeria; S. M. Doko ‘M’ being the proprietor of S. M. Dokoro Gombe; S. M. Dokoro Gombe and others, sometimes between January 2008 and May 2011, in Gombe within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court with attempt to convert, conspired among yourselves and others to conceal or disguise the sum of 242, 500,000.00 (Two Hundred and Forty Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira only), property of Gombe State Government, which was, or in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, represented proceeds of an illegal act, contrary to Section 17 of the Money laundering (Prohibition act) 2004 and also punishable under Section 14 of the same Act as amended, modified and retained under Section 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 respectively of the Money laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011( As Amended)”.

I’m innocent — Goje

Goje pleaded not guilty and since then, a catalogue of reactions have been trailing his arraignment. For those who knew Gombe State before his regime, the state which was carved out of the old Bauchi State in 1996, hitherto, only passed for a gloried village. Basic infrastructure including motorable roads were simply not on sight. A story has it that most Gombe people were not in a haste to declare their identity.

However, Gombe people appeared to heave a sigh of relief when Goje who left his office as the Minister of State for Power in the then President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government to contest for the number one seat in the state. Eight years after, Goje blazed the trail in many respects. His accomplishments giving Gombe a state university, an international airport, a FIFA rated international stadium, an international hotel, the multi-million Naira Gombe Regional Water Scheme located at Dadinkowa Dam, about 40 kilometers from the state capital and construction of roads. Indeed, roads, especially in Gombe metropolis, are motorable and well lit. With these legacies, Goje is regarded by his loyalists and many non-indigenes resident in the state as the Architect of modern Gombe State.

News of his detention

In the light of his legacies, his supporters and some observers tongue-lashed the EFCC for arresting a man who they said did so much for the state. When the news of his detention by the EFCC broke, there was indeed an outcry from his supporters. One of these was the immediate past Commissioner for Higher Education, Alhaji Mohammed Hassan. Though, he believes in the rule of the law of the land, he was also optimistic that the same law would vindicate his principal and charged EFCC to look beyond sentiments.

Said Hassan: “On the issue of the law taking its course, you know the law is something that is above everybody in the land. The only thing is that the law will be left to take its course and the only institution that can do that is the Court of Law. And I believe, if there is any misappropriation to that effect, the law is there to judge.

But I have a personal feeling that Goje has done marvelously well. If you look at the developmental work he has done in the land and in the state in particular, there is no governor who had attempted doing that. With meager resources allocated to the state, he got projects done. Nobody can do everything 100 percent. But if you look at the developmental projects like the Airport, the State University, Gombe Regional Water Scheme, the road network, it will be ridiculous, unimaginable to fault him with such offence. Unless there is something nobody can tell. But we have to wait for the law to take its course.”

Similarly, the Governor who was declared wanted for seemly running away from the grips of the EFCC, later to issue a statement, saying optimism that the charges against him held no water. “The allegation of corruption against me cannot stand. All financial resources entrusted in my care as Governor of Gombe State were judiciously used. The records are there for everybody to access.

It is illogical for anybody to have accused me of diverting N52 Billion when you look at all the outstanding projects I executed in eight years. This is the price you pay for leadership in a country like our nation where all public officials are seen as corrupt people. I have no regrets serving this nation.”

Opponents jubilate

However, not everyone support Goje. Some people jubilated over the travails of the former governor before Goje and the three other accused persons were granted bail by the court.

Meanwhile, it is left for the Court which has set aside December 7 and 8 to resume hearing on the matter, to determine whether or not the former governor is guilty. Goje upon regaining his freedom on October 18, 2010 told Journalists at the Court that “the whole process is part of the learning process.

As a politician, I’m bound to face so many hassles. There are ups and downs in life and there are difficulties. This is part of politics. I’m not the first and I’m not the last.”

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