By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja
It was shocking and earth-shaking in the Nigerian Senate, yesterday, when it was revealed that the Jonathan government spent a whooping 14 million Pounds (N4.3 billion) to secure the conviction of Chief James Ibori, former governor of Delta State.
The disclosure was made by Sen. Victor Lar, Chairman, Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption, during the 2015 budget defence of N542,199,776 for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Analysts say spending that much to secure the conviction of a single person is astonishing and baffling, especially as the person was tried and convicted in the UK and not in Nigeria. Political meanings are being read to what is seen as secret spending.
Sen. Lar added that the N4.3 billion ‘is more than ten years recurrent and capital budgets of all the anti-corruption agencies put together’.
It should be recalled that Chief Ibori was convicted on April 17, 2012, and sentenced to 13 years by Southwark Crown Court for financial crimes. At that time, many admirers of the strongman of Delta State politics had accused the Jonathan government of underhand dealing in the conviction, alleging that Chief Ibori’s conviction was traded for British interest in Nigerian oil.
By Sen. Lar’s revelation, analysts are wont to conclude that such a whooping sum was uncalled for, and that the money could have been put to better use in fighting corruption internally.
The Jonathan government has variously been accused of not fighting corruption frontally. It is a major plank on which the opposition party is promoting Gen. Mohammadu Buhari, who is generally seen as a no-nonsense anti-corruption person.
Sen. Lar also stated that people criticized the present government of not doing enough to fight corruption because Nigerians were impatient, adding that the difference between the present administration and the previous ones was that the present follows due process.