Fuelling the Narrative of the Opposition

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THE SATURDAY POLSCOPE

with Eddy Odivwri; eddy.odivwri@thisdaylive.com   08053069356

Those who do not believe in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and all its persons and programmes have been shouting themselves hoarse that the APC is out to snuff out life from the opposition. One of the reasons they have given is pasting the list of those who have so far been hounded by the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Those who believe the opposition are being persecuted do not exactly deny that there are grounds for the arrests and prosecutions that have been recorded in the camp of the opposition. Their complaint seems to be that it is all selective, noting that there are equally APC personalities whose hands are also not very clean. And that they are being spared the EFCC claws, all because they belong to the party in power.

From Sambo Dasuki through, Olisah Metuh down to Godsday Orubebe, Femi Fani-Kayode,  Usman Nenadi, Mrs Patience Jonathan, Mrs Diezani Madueke, many former aides of former President Jonathan etc etc. The opposition believes that even those perceived to have used their positions to hurt the advancement of the APC are also facing the furnace. Such group as the seven High Court judges whose homes were raided in Commando style, last October. Even though huge sums of raw cash, in foreign and local currencies were found in the homes of these judges, some of them yet hang their arrest on the fact that they refused to bend the rules in favour of the APC in their election tribunal judgements. But they appear hard put explaining the humongous sums of money found in their homes which many suspect are proceeds of fraud and bribe from politicians who had paid heavily to procure election verdicts in their favour. Indeed, the hall of shame constructed by the APC government has been hugely populated by those believed to have been anti-APC.

Not many reckon with the fact that the APC until last week, had had a running battle prosecuting one of its own, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki on false assets declaration. The Code of Conduct Tribunal last week, discharged and acquitted Saraki of all the charges against him. The Federal Government has however filed an appeal against the judgement that freed Saraki from the judicial noose. The belief is that Saraki is being “punished” for going against the ordered wish of the party on the structure of the National Assembly leadership. I shall return to this shortly.

 But it is not for nothing that they are being held and prosecuted. Each and every one of them is accused of one mega breach or the other… all bothering on the rape of the treasury.

The EFCC has been ultra-busy hurling suspects into detention. Indeed, so much money has been recovered from those who called the shots yesterday.

Expectedly, not even one of the publicly prosecuted persons has admitted guilt. That has thus created a judicial logjam as the courts are literally filled with the trial of all sorts of persons.

But recent events in the judiciary are helping the narrative of the opposition, i.e. that the APC-led government is merely persecuting those not in the party in the name of anti-corruption war. What has given strength to this argument is the fact that the Federal Government has lost almost all the major anti-graft cases, seeming to suggest that indeed the accused persons were merely being harassed using the instrumentalities of state.

The case of the seven justices, arrested last October for money laundering and other crimes is a perfect example. The raid of the homes of the judges was a major bullet fired in the anti-corruption war. But is it not sad that eight months after, the federal government could only arraign two of them. What about the other five? Even among those prosecuted, the court has cleared one of them: Justice  Adeniyi Ademola and his wife. He had an 18-count charge bothering on gratification and illegal possession of firearms hanging on his head and that of his wife and lawyer. The prosecution could not establish any of the counts against the accused.

Vexed by the endless wait for prosecution, the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) has ordered the hitherto suspended judges to resume work, since the system cannot wait endlessly for the federal government which seems to have gone on a far journey of  judicial adventure. It is such a discomfiting verdict slammed against government.

The lousiness of the prosecution had seemingly bungled the cases. The judiciary could not but free the accused if those accusing them of graft are unable or unwilling  to prove it.  The legal maxim that he who alleges, proves, seems to mean little to the prosecutorial team. The courts were left with no other choice than to throw away the cases.

Here is a judiciary which many believe will in normal circumstances not draw the dagger at one of its own. At least not for the sake of the executive which has also held the judiciary in loud suspicion.

 It was thus doubly demanding of the prosecution to tighten all the loopholes of the case so that it will be difficult for the judges to rule in favour of their troubled colleagues in pursuit of esprit de corps.

But this was not done. How can it be explained, for instance that eight months after the judges were accused of money laundering and other charges, the state could not conclude investigation so as to arraign them?

It is this lousiness that Professor Itse Sagay has been expressing his frustration about. He had blamed the Attorney General of the Federation for the loss of the major anti-graft cases, which altogether removes the steam from the anti-corruption war. Indeed, no major case has been won. Sad!

The pattern established seems to be the hasty arrest of suspected individuals, invite the media to feast on the arrest, detain the persons for a while and thereafter dilly-dally whether to investigate the matter or not. Were it not so, there is no reason why the federal government will be losing all the cases, as if it is all a judicial drama of no consequence.

Take the case filed against Godsday Orubebe on false asset declaration. Too many times, the prosecution was absent in court and eventually unable to provide evidence that can be used in convicting Orubebe. So on what basis is the court expected to throw Orubebe into jail, when there is no evidence of the crime he is accused of?

The latest is the arrest and release of Ifeanyi Ubah, the Managing Director of Capital Oil, who was accused of selling petroleum products worth N11 billion which were stored in his facility by   the NNPC. After six weeks of detention, he was during the week released after nothing was said to have been found against him.  So why was he arrested and detained for six weeks?

Reference to the continued detention of the likes of Col Sambo Dasuki (retd), former NSA under former President Jonathan has become a major dent on the human rights record of the Buhari administration. All the explanations on why he has continued to be incarcerated despite court orders granting him bail, make little sense. Again, it feeds the belief that there is a personal grudge and scheme aimed at suppressing those not on the same page with the party in power.

Or shall we refer to the case of  El Zakzaky, the Shiite Muslim leader who has been held since December 2015? The courts have ordered his unconditional release on a number of counts, just as the Shiites have led numerous public protests…all to no avail.

The Information and Culture minister downplays the issue by stressing that El Zakzaky is not held in prison but in a decent apartment and that he is being held for his own protection. How cheap!

 And finally, the failure of the prosecution to diligently prosecute the senate President led to the surprise acquittal of the number three citizen of all the eight charges against him.

It is after the prosecution has failed at the CCT that it seems to be gearing up for an appeal against the judgement.

Contrary to the “bold face” argument and posturing of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, , Justice Abubakar Malami, I believe that the cases were shoddily handled by the prosecution team. The ministry of Justice has made a mess of the anti-corruption war and has given the opposition the ground to claim that they are being persecuted. Or can the AGF say he is proud of the way the federal government has been losing all the cases? Perhaps soon too, the court will throw out the case against the former Petroleum minister, Mrs Diezani Madueke or the ones against Femi Fani-Kayode as well as Mrs Nenadi Usman.

In all, it is correct to say that the Federal Government is by its shoddiness in handling these cases supplying the opposition camp the bullets with which it will be shot.

Canticles…

 

Will Dino Drown?

Hmmmmm, Bad Breeze is About to Blow

Bad breeze? Where and why?

The breeze is about to blow within the confluence state. 

Stop the rigmarole. What are you talking about?

Have you not followed the threat of a typhoon from Kogi State?

The typhoon that is likely to blow away that noisy, garrulous and controversial third-class graduate senator away from the red chambers?

Oh, Now I understand what you have been driving at. You are referring to the recall process being instituted by the electorate on Kogi West senatorial district?

Sure!

It is a forceless storm. It will soon calm down and the bumpy ride will continue again.

What do you mean by a “forceless storm”? What force can be more than the push of 188,580 adults? Did you not hear that over 52.3 per cent of the total number of registered voters in the Kogi West Senatorial district (360,090) have signed the register for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye? And you say it is a forceless storm? Do you think they are joking? Or didn’t you also hear that they loaded all the signatures into six Ghana-Must-Go bags and took it to the headquarters of INEC? And you call it forceless storm? Look, I can tell you that INEC has written Senator Melaye to intimate him of the petition of his constituents who want him to come back home and make those noise in the palace of the village king. So, my friend , don’t dismiss it.

But Dino himself, who has survived even fiercer storms has said it is an exercise in futility. He has even described it as a comedy of errors threatening further that he sees many people going to jail because many of the signatories asking for his recall are fake. He sounded so confident.

Such bravado is his standard template. He can dismiss them at his own peril. You know he boasts and flaunts a lot. He vaunts.  But it does not look like the petitioners will lose steam soon. They seem determined to follow through the whole process until Dino drowns in his folly.

Will Dino drown?

As long as forces of the home trouble pull hard on him, he will surely sink and drown. The framers of the constitution were not joking when they added the recall clause in the constitution. Dino’s constituents have been yelling that they are highly under-represented in the Senate. They say Dino is a noise specialist, creating confusion and always swimming in controversies, instead of attracting development to his constituency, whish is the raison d’etre of his election in the first place. The Kogi West electorate seem determined to test the process and follow it through. 

Hmmm, I don’t see them succeeding. I am told many of the signatories are not from Kogi West. That many  of them are from Kogi East senatorial district. INEC has promised to verify the signatories.

 That man called Dino Melaye is  like a cat with nine lives. I see him wriggling out of this noose with a thicker bunch of white goatie beards.

He believes the person stoking fire in the recall project is Governor Yahaya Bello whom he had accused of sending him assassins few months back.

Well, I don’t know if Gov Bello is behind it. But it is politics. If Dino has been tackling him and calling for his resignation, it will not be out of place for him to also deal a silencing blow on his traducer by funding and fanning the embers of the recall fire. It’s almost like saying “If you Dino me, I Bello you”. It’s quid pro quo!

Have you forgotten Dino is Saraki’s Man Friday? You think Saraki will be there and watch his strongest pillar in the Senate thrown out, just like that? Not after Dino helped him to overcome the CCT trial. Trust me, the process will be scuttled. This is Nigeria. Very soon you will hear all those bags containing the signatures have been eaten by rats. Do you think it is for nothing that Dino described  it as exercise in futility? 

Well, Nigerians are watching. And INEC is on trial. Even our constitution is on trial. The entire democratic system is on trial. Let’s see the voodoo that will thaw this ice.

(stretching out his fore finger) Bet me, on this matter, the more you look, the less you will see. It is called Digital politics!