In my part 2 of the above write up last week, I had recalled some of my many interventions on how best to fight and win the war against corruption; and also how not to prosecute it. We now continue our conversation today. I had always intervened. Serially. Severally.
SOME OF MY EARLIER INTERVENTIONS ON THE ANTI-CORRUPTION FIGHT
I had screamed on roof tops; on television; dripped oceans of ink about the savagery manner the anti-corruption fight was being prosecuted. Magu and his supporters had always accused defendant’s lawyers of corruption, for merely defending their clients.
They failed to appreciate the fact that the same accused persons were being prosecuted by some of the best lawyers the government itself had hired. They were not even interested in knowing that the government itself harboured some of the most corrupt people in its dark recesses.
They said it did not matter for as long as they have grabbed those they wanted. Such paradox!
Such contradictions!! Such inconsistencies!!! Such self-denial!!!! EFCC under Magu merely went after opposition elements, rights activists, critics of government, dissenters, plural voices; etc. Never their own. A decampment by any corrupt politician into the ruling APC party suddenly cleansed him of his criminal and corrupt leprosy, like Naaman the leper, who dipped himself 7 times into River Jordan, and became cleansed of his leprosy.
Magu has therefore become a sad metaphor for the anti-climax of the anti-corruption war, as the very anti-corruption czar is himself now being accused, rightly or wrongly, of the worst form of corruption – the “corruption of anti-corruption” war.
This is sad. Really sad. But, please, Nigerians, don’t convict him unheard through media trial. This was the pass time and template of the EFCC under him: “Name-and-shame” Nigerians, whether guilty or not guilty; without a fair trial. I don’t believe in it. I am unapologetic about this.
MY EARLIER NOSTRADAMIC INTERVENTIONS
I was not just criticizing. I provided solutions. I asked questions; answered the questions; and even questioned the answers. Since 2015. I advocated for the building of strong institutions, not strong men or strong women. I asked for a full detailed account of all loots so far recovered (money and realty). I provided panacea to enable EFCC and other anti-graft agencies chart a positive way forward.
I wrote to EFCC and presented a paper at a CACOL roundtable, titled “The A – Z and 24 “DOS” and “Don’ts” of how to fight corruption” (See Daily Times of 24th April, 2017 – https//issuu.com/dailytimes. ng/docs/dtn-24-04-17/19). I was ignored, almost sentenced to a “fatwa”. On 14th January, 2016 (barely a mere 7 months after President Buhari assumed office), Thisday newspaper reported me thus (http://www.thisdaylive.com/): “Nigeria: Ozekhome – Buhari Will Know His Greatest Enemies When the Chips Are Down” “Constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), has accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of undermining the rule of law in the polity, adding “that those who may be telling the president to put Nigerians on the stakes and shoot them to death, without even trying them in the fight against corruption are his worst enemies.
“Fielding questions from journalists in Abuja, Ozekhome maintained that under no guise must respect for the principle of separation of powers which is a sine qua non for democratic rule be undermined under the present dispensation, adding that the president will know those deceiving him when the chips are down”.
“Nigeria: Ozekhome Blames Government for Worsening Corruption, Insecurity The Guardian of 1st May, 2018, (see: http:// www.ngrguadiannews.com/), titled, “Nigeria: Ozekhome Blames Government for Worsening Corruption, Insecurity”, reported thus: “Human rights activist and constitutional lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) has said that past and present administrations including that of President Muhammadu Buhari were responsible for the country’s economic conditions and socio-political woes.
“Besides, Ozekhome, who presented a detailed analysis of how corruption, money laundering and insecurity have destroyed the nation’s economic potentials among the comity of nations, said the challenges have worsened under the Buhari administration”.
APOLOGISE TO JUSTICE ADEMOLA AND OTHERS
On 7th April, 2017, I told the DSS to publicly apologise to Justice Adeniyi Ademola who was discharged and acquitted by the Federal High Court, Lagos. I also urged the Lagos State Government to recall Ademola’s wife who had been wrongly relieved of her post as Lagos State Head of the Civil Service, on account of his husband’s travails. I equally implored the NJC to reinstate Justice Ademola (see: https://guardian.ng; https:// www.newtelegraphug.com). In my said press release, I said, inter alia: “The discharge of the defendants based on their no-case-submission, was an obviously laughable and anti-climax after all the “gra gra”, grand standing, posturing, rabble rousing and wanton degradation of the judiciary by their transducers…
“This discharge, after the horrific humiliation of Justice Ademola, whose home was savagely invaded by rampaging, masked and hooded DSS operatives, between the ungodly and unholy hours of 12 mid-night to 5am!… “Windows and doors were bestially broken down and the Judge whisked off like a common criminal inside a pick up van.
“We were told to shut up, not to complain, because the government was fighting the monster called corruption. Never mind that the inner corridors and dark recesses of the same government reek and stink of putrid and the horrendous corruption, with the very government rising up on each occasion to defend its corrupt officials. “A case of wanting to sweep your neighbour’s house clean when your house is dirty and stinking. A clear case of attempting to remove the mole from your neighbour’s eye when a log is embedded in yours”.
NOW THIS INVASION OF COURTS BY DSS OPERATIVES
I had earlier stringently decided the invasion of Justices homes on 8th October, 2016 (see: https://dnllegalandstyle.com). I also condemned DSS’ invasion of the court where Omoyele Sowore was being tried, leading to Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu (the trial Judge) scampering into her Chambers (see: https:// africachinapresscentre.org).
INVASION OF DR EKWEREMADU’S HOME
On November 6, 2018, I condemned, in very stringent words, the crude invasion of the house of the then Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, in an attempt to force him out of office by the ruling APC government. I said, “I am very convinced that the raid on Ekweremadu’s residence was politically motivated to silence and browbeat him, and possibly remove him as Deputy Senate President. In this, they will fail woefully as Nigeria is innately pluralistic and multi-ideological”. I then warned the ruling APC to discontinue its “clampdown on opposition figures across the country”. Of course, as I predicted, they failed in their mission of forcing Ekweremadu out of office (see: https://www.vanguard.com-raid-on- Ekweremadu’s-house).
EFCC: THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
On 21st December, 2016, I wrote a piece in the Wednesday Sun (see: https://www. sunnewsonline.com/efcc-the-taming-of- the-shrew/), with the above title, “EFCC: The taming of the Shrew”, when I moved the Federal High Court, Ado-Ekiti (Conan, Taino Taino, J), to unfreeze the illegally frozen account of the then Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayoshe. I wrote, inter alia: “With this judgment, hitherto respected human rights activists and defenders of the rule of law, who now enjoy the largesse, munificence comfort and opulence of closeness to, or appointment within, the cozy corridors of power, and have therefore suddenly become revisionists, renegades and turn-coats, standing law, logic, ethics and morality on their heads, will nope have no option, but to sober up ancd advise their pay masters appropriately. They forget that like the mammy wagon lorry anecdote proclaims, “no condition is permanent” and that “soldiers go, soldiers come, but barracks remain”. Ha, the ephemerality of power!”
DILEMMA OF FORUM SHOPPING
On 28th December, 2018, I wrote another piece in this same Sunday Telegraph, titled, “EFCC and the Dilemma of Forum Shopping”. I wrote amongst other things, as follows: “The court equally frowned at the EFCC for suppressing the fact of the pendency of the case before Justice Dimgba, when it again approached Justice Abang, for a similar fresh ex parte order of interim attachment over the same properties.
The court held that Fayoshe’s suit was not academic, but live, and urged Fayoshe to investigate what really transpired at Justice Abang’s court. Thus, for the second time in six days, yours sincerely moved the judicial machinery to uphold Fayoshe’s rights; first, at Ado-Ekiti, where his accounts were defrozen; and now, at the Federal High Court, Abuja, where his attached properties were again unsealed and vacated.
The Justice Dimgba division which vacated EFCC’s sealing, possession and occupation of Fayose’s properties highlights the dangers inherent in “forum shopping”, a detestable and cowardly step usually employed by a party who seeks more favourable results from a different court, other than the one his case is already pending. Bravo, Nigerian Judiciary. For avoidance of doubt, the immunity enjoyed by Governor Fayose under section 308 of the 1999 Constitution, our grundnorm, cannot be wrenched from him under any guise, antics, artifice and design, except the Constitution is amended. The truth will always prevail against all odds. In Latin, we say “res ipsa loquitur” (the facts speaks for itself). There is a season for everything under the sun.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“Corruption happens because there is impunity. That’s the reason why corruption is widespread at all levels – from the person who asks for a bribe on the street to those who hold prominent positions.” (Joao Lourenco).
Fellow Nigerians, come along with me every week, to put our heads together on how to make Nigeria a better place. This, always on “The Nigerian Project”, by Chief Mike A. A. Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., Ph.D, LL.D.
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