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To Probe or Not To Probe: This Is the Answer

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Akintokunbo A Adejumo“Just as it is impossible not to taste the honey or the poison that finds itself at the tip of the tongue, so it is impossible for a Government servant not to eat up

at least a bit of the King’s revenue”. Katyla, 300 BC

Image: The author]

It is sad to see, hear and read, and indeed, very nauseating, that some Nigerians, whether in high or low places, are advocating to “let bygone be bygone” and leave looters alone. This is very sad; however, it is expected and unsurprising to me, knowing the hypocrisy and praise-singing culture of my people. I have written thrice about this “A People beyond Redemption”, “A Virulent Form of Absurdity: When Society and Politics go Insane” and most recently “Our Own Worst Enemy: The Iniquities of a People”. I know my people head to toe.

Have they considered how many Nigerians are dead, still dying, because of the direct and indirect effects of corruption in this country? Why should people who deny others independence, livelihood, welfare, better lives, etc. be let off? However, my stance is not based on righteous indignation, religious belief, hypocrisy or moral certitude; it is based, as you will read in the last part of this article, on the laws of the land.

In a country brimming with enviable natural and human resources, we see poverty, yes, dire poverty, hunger, unemployment, desperation and misery every day on the street while at the same time we see and suffer under unbridled, unashamed, un-apportioned and inappropriate affluence of the looters who denied their own people and fellow human beings, good lives and welfare.

We have been letting our looters and corrupt leaders, politicians, military, civil servants and other public officials off for decades, and that has been the wrong message and precedent, and this is why corruption in Nigeria is ever proliferating and daring, because the perpetrators do not fear Justice or God. They keep saying, “Nothing will happen anyway; they will shout and shout, go to court and all charges will be dropped, I know the justice, I know the investigators, no problem”.

Yes, by all means, looters must be prosecuted and given long prison terms (if we cannot execute them like in China). We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand and shy away from the bitter truth and reality of the damage treasury looting has done and is still doing to this country. So, if peace and smiles are to be restored to people, it is then good enough to bring to books those that deprived the people good things of life, such as good roads, good medical facilities, employment for the teeming youths of this country, good education, etc. 

When we are talking about this country, we must be talking about how to rebuild this country and this may not happen overnight. It may take time, but then, there is light at the end of the tunnel. People that had stolen our money must return it. The problem we have as a people is our inability to ask questions from our leaders, but I know now this government has opened our eyes and henceforth people will be asking questions. Buhari may never complete the job, but he would have laid a solid foundation that will be difficult to succeeding leaders to follow, but which they must follow.

It’s interesting to know that even the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, a member of the dubious National Peace Committee, led by ex-Head of State, Abubakar AbdulSalam and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Rev Martin Kukah, has come around in supporting President Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade to prosecute any person’s found to have short-changed the Nigerian people in looting the nation treasury. Unlike our past Commonwealth Secretary General, Emeka Anyaoku, advocating for pardon, “let by gone be by gone” When he was the Commonwealth Secretary General, would he have allowed the collective funds of the organisation be embezzled under his watch? I believe not, otherwise he wouldn’t have had a splendid career in service. 

As a society we have allowed public funds to be looted, mismanaged and wasted. The result is suffering of ordinary people, unemployment, extreme poverty, mental illness on the streets, homelessness, unable to afford basic essentials, affordable Medicare, education. Most importantly infrastructures that benefit us and improve and upgrade our country among the comity of nations are lacking. Where income generated should be used for the citizen’s welfare, these almost always end up in the private pockets of people entrusted with the administration of this country but who instead, betray our trust and take advantage of their positions in government to abuse their authority and oppress the people they are supposed to serve.

The President needs the support of Nigeria people to bring sanity back to society that have lost her pride and sense of belonging. It is our duty as good citizens to support the President; corrupt leaders, past and present must be probed, recover the money they stole and then prosecute and jail them. No room for corruption any more.

Mr President must not listen to those calling for a stop to probe. It is annoying to see people’s self-interest and selfishness overpower reasoning and rectitude.  At the end of the day, they may even have the day. There is no Truth in Nigeria, and that is why we are like this, and may be like that forever.

The current EFCC and its leadership, rank and file are not fit for the present dispensation. And same goes for the Judiciary. There was so much compromise on their part during the last regime and should be made to answer and punished appropriately. Is the EFCC leader just waking up now? What was he doing during GEJ tenure, when for the 6 years, not a single case against corrupt ex-governors was won in court? His own tenure during GEJ as well should be subject to a rigorous probe by a separate and independent anti-corruption body.

The question should have been when they were looting what were agencies meant to check mate them doing? Sleeping, I suppose! So if Buhari had not come, those agencies will still be sleeping, abi? So a president must prompt agencies to do their job? If yes, why? Are they not supposed to be working irrespective of whoever is in power? Why is it that in a system which is supposed to be propelled and monitored by institutions, individuals working in those institutions are afraid to do their job or have compromised? If institutions are working, is the Presidency not supposed to be under close monitors by democratic institutions? If Nigerians can now start working because Buhari said so even though they are supposed to be doing their jobs without let or hindrance under previous governments, then I think Nigeria should, structurally, be redefined. As it is now, the system we are running is not fit for purpose. It stinks!

Its high time things changed in this our nation, Nigeria. Corruption has thrived so outrageously to the extent that it has become a norm in our society. Those advocating that a blind eye should be turned to the nefarious activities of the looters are just playing to the gallery and are birds of the same feathers with the looters. It is very obvious, even to the common man on the street that Nigeria cannot continue along this path of internal destruction. A honest man has just been sent to bail out the country from an impending socio-economic destruction in the person of Buhari. May God be with him, grant him wisdom and energy to cleanse this nation, although it will be like Hercules cleaning the Augean stables. The looters should be prosecuted, irrespective of their position and personality; their pecuniary loot should be confiscated and returned to the national treasury and appropriate jail terms should be meted out to them.

The advocates of “let bygone be bygone” have benefited from the loot directly or indirectly that’s why they are advocating such nonsense. We cannot continue to run our government on corruption and dirty politics again. Now is the chance and the time to clean up the corruption mess and stigma hanging on Nigeria so, we have to support the present government in fighting corruption by all means and make Nigeria a better country for all with all the potentials at her disposal.

Morally, the sinner is not allowed to get away with his/her sins. The Bible and the Koran prescribes punishment for sin. Corruption and stealing are sins and must be punished. Those looters, Nigerian looters, who thought they are above the laws of Man and have gotten away with their crimes, have not yet met the judgement of God, as He will visit the sins of the father on many generations to come.

Above all, my reason for supporting probes is predicated on the Laws of Nigeria. Those advocating “No Probe” are actually asking the Federal Government of Nigeria to ignore its own laws. In Nigeria, it is a crime to take bribes and offer bribes; corruption by public officials or those entrusted with the administration of the country. Such persons must be arrested by law enforcement agents, investigated, prosecuted and jailed, if found guilty.

What then are we deigning for to let people off? That means we are encouraging lawlessness and preventing the law and justice to take their actions and courses. Shame on those advocating for the government of Nigeria to shove its own laws aside, to satisfy the corrupt few!!

Please see the part of the relevant Criminal Code, Nigeria Law below.

Criminal Code Act-Part III-IV – Nigeria Law

Chapter 12: Corruption and Abuse of Office

98.   (1)           Any public official (as defined in section 98D) who-

(a)            corruptly asks for, receives or obtains any property or benefit of any kind for himself or any other person; or bribes, etc.,

(b)           corruptly agrees or attempts to receive or obtain any property or benefit of any kind for himself or any other person, on account of-

(i)             anything already, done or omitted, or any favour or disfavour already shown to any person, by himself in the discharge of his official duties or in relation to any matter connected with the functions, affairs or business of a Government department, public body or other organisation or institution in which he is serving as a public official, or

(ii)            anything to be afterwards done or omitted, or any favour or disfavour to be afterwards shown to any person, by himself in the discharge of his official duties or in relation to any such matter as aforesaid, is guilty of the felony of official corruption and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

98A.   (1)          Any person who- Official corruption: person giving bribes, etc., on account of actions of public Official.

(a)            corruptly gives, confers or procures any property or benefit of any kind to, on or for a public official (as defined in section 98D) or to, on or for any other person; or 1966 No. 84.

(b)            corruptly promises or offers to give or confer or to procure or attempt to procure any property or benefit of any kind to, on or for a public official or to, on or for any other person,

                on account of any such act, omission, favour or disfavour on the part of the public official as is mentioned in section 98(1)(i) or (ii), is guilty of the felony of official corruption and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.

98D.        In sections 98 to 98B, “public official” means any person employed in the public service (within the meaning of that expression as defined in section 1(1)) or any judicial officer within the meaning of section 98c.

99.            Any person who, being employed in the public service, takes, Or accepts from any person, for the performance of his duty as such officer, any reward beyond his proper pay and emoluments, or any promise of such reward, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years.

100.         (Deleted by 1966 No. 84.)

101.         Any person who, being employed in the public service, knowingly acquires or holds, directly or indirectly, otherwise than as a member of a registered joint stock company consisting of more than twenty persons, a private interest in any contract or agreement which is made on account of the public service with respect to any matter concerning the department of the service in which he is employed, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years, and to be fined at the discretion of the court.

The offender cannot be arrested without warrant.

On this singular basis of the Law, if nothing else, I rest my case. 

Let the Truth be said always!!!

Akintokunbo A Adejumo; akinadejum@aol.com 

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