Wamakko, Okorocha and Cyclical Sleaze Queries

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Ring True

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yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com

When the Senator representing Sokoto-North in the National Assembly, Aliyu Wamakko, was named the Vice-Chairman of the upper chamber’s Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, concerned Nigerians reacted angrily. One of the most infuriated persons was the Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran, who said the war against corruption might have ended with the development.

Adeniran said, “The nomination of Wamakko portends an annihilation of every effort to win the battle against corruption in Nigeria. It appears there is a kind of orchestrated attempt to emasculate the President’s determination to root out corruption in Nigeria,” adding, “CACOL will protest the nomination of Wamakko and call attention to the case against him.

This anger against the appointment of Wamakko, who was the governor of Sokoto State from 2007 to 2015, is a just one. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been probing him since 2015 for alleged N15 billion scams during his tenure as governor. Honestly, Wamakko has no business being appointed into a committee that will carry out oversight functions on our anti-corruption agencies. Ahmad Lawan and the Senate Leadership should bury their heads in shame for this appointment because Wamakko has unsettled corruption questions hanging on his neck.

Several petitions were received against this former Sokoto governor for alleged theft and laundering of state funds during his tenure. One of the petitions came from the Movement for the Liberation and Emancipation of Sokoto State signed by the Chairman of the group, M. D. Sirajo Saidu and Secretary, Mudasiru Umar Alasan. The petition was dated August 10, 2015.
The EFCC has been looking into some of these petitions and sources said some accusations were verified. Huge sums were allegedly traced to the personal account of Wamakko, deposited by individuals, suspected to be staff of the Government House, Sokoto.

I am also aware that a former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa submitted another petition against Wamakko early this year. Bafarawa alleged: “After my tenure as governor of Sokoto State, I left the sum of N11.8 billion in government accounts. Where is the money? There was N500 million in the accounts of Sultan Maccido Institute for Quran and Islamic Studies. Let him (Wamakko) tell us where he took the money. I bought and left iron rods worth N1 billion. Where are the rods and if sold, where has the money gone?”

On why it took him that long to write the petition, Bafarawa said: “I am doing it now after being exonerated by the court. But don’t forget that I petitioned EFCC then in Abuja but they turned it against me. I am doing it again especially now that Wamakko has no immunity. Both of us are on the same level now. I am available for any questions or clarifications at any time I am needed by the EFCC.”

Suddenly, we are no longer hearing anything about the investigations of the petitions against Wamakko. I called my contacts at the EFCC office in Abuja on Monday and they told me that “something not funny” is happening to the investigations of the petitions against Wamakko. I sincerely hope that investigations have not been killed because Wamakko led President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign in the 2019 election in Sokoto State For former governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, corruption allegations pour daily. Few days back, the EFCC sealed properties linked to him and his family members in Imo State, over their failure to appear for questioning.

The properties identified by the anti-graft agency were Dews of Hope Hospital, traced to Dr. Paschal Obi, former Principal Secretary to Okorocha; Market Square Super Market; All in One Shop; and premises belonging to Imo State Broadcasting Corporation now hosting Rochas Foundation College owned by Okorocha; East High Academy and East High College, owned by Okorocha’s daughter, Uloma Okorocha-Nwosu; Royal Spring Palm Hotel and Apartment, a 16 block cum 96 flats and eight bungalows multi-million Naira estate traced to Okorocha’s wife.

Notwithstanding this baggage, Okorocha chairs the Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism. Yes, that’s the man that will carry out oversight functions on our Culture and Tourism MDAs. Nobody will take this country serious with men like Okorocha and Wamakko holding key positions in the National Assembly. Certainly, they have not been convicted by any law court, but they carry inhibiting baggage.

When will Omolewa Family Get Justice?

For those who have not been following the story, the late Jeremiah Omolewa was the resident pastor of Living Faith Church, Romi New Extention, in Kaduna. Jeremiah, and his wife, Oluwakemi, were abducted along the notorious Kaduna-Abuja Road on August 10, on their way to Kaduna. He was murdered by his abductors while his wife was held for five days and finally released after the payment of an undisclosed sum of money as ransom. Oluwakemi was badly terrorised. She was not even aware that her husband had been murdered until she returned home. As at press time, security agents are yet to apprehend the killers of Jeremiah as promised. No news yet on the arrest of the bastards that killed this clergy and extorted money from his widow. Security agents must bring these coldblooded people to justice. The pain inflicted on this family is massive. The police, DSS and the rest of them must rise to the occasion and get justice for the Omolewa family. Murderers of Jeremiah must be punished.

On the flip side, scores of people are abducted daily on this infamous Abuja-Kaduna road, with huge amount paid to kidnappers as ransom. Just last week, the Kaduna State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Joseph Hayab, disclosed that the church had spent over N300 million on payment of ransom in the last four years for over 500 Christians abducted within the period.

Hayab lamented: “In the past four years, Christians in Kaduna State have suffered a lot, paying kidnappers ransom to ensure the release of either their family member or church member or neighbour or someone they know. In Kachia, a Reverend Father was abducted three months ago, and a ransom of N1.5 million was paid but he has not been released, an indication that he might have been killed.

“In many of our villages along the Abuja-Kaduna road, people have abandoned their homes and relocated to places like Buwaya, Gonin- Gora, Romi and other suburbs around Kaduna metropolis as a result of activities of kidnappers. They are suffering because no effort is being made to tame kidnapping in Kaduna State. Our people cannot continue to live in fear, even in their homes. Three weeks ago, kidnappers went to Marraban Rido, broke into three houses and abducted three women. I can go on and on to tell you incidences of people being frequently kidnapped and we keep on looking for money to pay the kidnappers.”

Reverend Hayab was still in tears when fresh news came in on Wednesday that gunmen had abducted another pastor and his son in Angwan Makiri, near Udawa, in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, and were demanding a N20 million ransom. Elisha Numan, the pastor of Nagarta Baptist Church in the community was taken away with his son, Emmanuel, who was later released to go and mobilise the church for the payment of ransom.

The bandits, who arrived the community in large number, forced their way into the pastor’s residence, after firing several shots.
Numan, in his 60s and a father of six, was badly beaten by the bandits as they dragged him into the bush.

Emmanuel said: “About 20 men, all of them armed, came to the village and started shooting. They came to our house and started hitting and banging at our doors but nobody opened. They then forced their way into house and vandalised everything. They carted away some valuables including mobile phones and clothing in my mother’s box. They later picked me together with my father. But after we moved a while to the bush, I was released and they went away with my father.

“One of them was dressed in military camouflage. As they released me, they threatened that if we didn’t bring money in five days, even though they didn’t mention the specific ransom, they will kill him. They later called us and asked us to raise N20 million so that they could release him. We don’t have that kind of money. But we are still negotiating with them. We are yet to report to the police because even when we had similar experience in the past and contacted them, they did not do anything about it.”

Yes, all these happening in a country with a government. For how long must terrorism continue in our beloved country? It is a shame that Nigeria is fast turning into a failed country. Urgent action must be taken by the Buhari government to stem the tide.

Time to Take Back Power Discos

Most homes and industries across Nigeria are left without power for days; yet, generation is being deliberately hindered by our languid power distribution companies called Discos. For over three years now, they have been deliberately rejecting supply from the generating companies.

Discos are the weakest link in the power supply chain. This month alone, 17 of the nation’s 27 power stations were forced to shut down some of their units on the back of low demand by Discos, thus, deteriorating the blackout being experienced by millions of customers across the country. Power consumers are in anguish, while generating companies, Gencos, are losing money due to the idle generation capacity.

It is terrifying to learn that Discos have been rejecting power supply from the Gencos, while they go about terrorising consumers and collecting money for services not rendered. These Discos care less about the darkness in our land. They just want to make money from traumatised Nigerians. Discos collect all sorts of illegal money from consumers, yet they pay for only a fraction of the power given to them to distribute. According to a recent report, Discos have been paying for an average of 24 per cent of power given to them by Gencos, while they pocket a bulk of the money collected from consumers. Unmetered consumers have been going through hell. Discos are averse to the metering of consumers because estimated billing provides an opportunity for them to extort money from star-crossed customers.

The good news is that the final performance review of the private firms that bought the companies carved out from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria will be in December. For me, the federal government must activate relevant clause in the share purchase agreement, to recover our 11 Discos from these investors from hell. They have clearly breached several sections of the agreement.

It is pertinent to repossess these Discos from the failed investors because they have performed poorly. They can’t even distribute available grid power to consumers. The power sector is very strategic to the economy of this country. No matter what it would cost, government must recover the Discos, manage it for some time and thereafter, look for serious investors.

Remarks by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday that the federal government was working to open up the nation’s electricity market to new investors in generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure were encouraging. The current structure of the power market is incapable of delivering uninterrupted power for domestic and industrial use. A substantial change of strategy must be pursued, as noted by Osinbajo.