The police aide de camp (ADC) to Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs. Aishat Buhari, was recently arrested on account of an alleged N2.5billion fraud. According to the details of the arrest, the ADC, Mr. Sani Baba-Inna, a Chief Superintendent of Police, was alleged to have collected huge donations from politicians and businessmen alike on behalf of the president’s wife and refused to funnel them to her. Mrs Buhari was alleged to have ordered the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to arrest, grill and cause him to cough UP the funds.
In her reaction, however, Mrs. Buhari denied the allegation and claimed that she had no hand in Baba-Inna’s arrest and detention. In a release issued on her behalf by Suleiman Haruna, her Director of Information, it was admitted that Baba-Inna had been her ADC since 2016 and had “been associated with her ever since” but that “to the utter dismay of Her Excellency, he had used the opportunity to defraud unsuspecting associates and officials as initial investigations have shown.” According to the release, “The Nigeria Police Force, his employers, arrested him to investigate the allegations leveled against him, this, being within their jurisdiction. She wishes to use this opportunity to inform the general public that she has never sent any of her staff to collect any favours on her behalf or on behalf of her children and will never do so. Anyone that has been defrauded by Mr. Baba-Inna should get across to him to retrieve whatever he took from them.”
The online medium which broke the story, Premium Times, however said that initial investigations by the police acquitted Baba-Inna of the allegation as searches conducted on his house and bank accounts did not confirm it. However, the allegation against the ADC raises very germane questions about Nigerian public officers and their attitude to power. First, barring the truth or otherwise of this allegation, the key point is that it reveals the underbelly of the Nigerian governmental system with its various abuses. If the ADC to the First Lady could allegedly be implicated in transactions that run into billions of naira, what goes on inside the governmental circles can only be imagined.
The First Lady apparently did not think the allegation through. If such a huge sum of money could pass through her ADC as alleged, then there must be a system which facilitates access to slush funds running into billions of naira. What the allegation further reveals is that there is a system in the Aso Rock Villa which allows such humongous sums to be passed through whatever source or sources to the men and women at the top power echelon for whatever reasons. Another question to ask is why an ADC should have been left to deal with non-security and pecuniary matters. What kind of system is being run in the Presidency that allows this incongruity?
Also of importance is the need for the accused, Baba-Inna, to speak up.Who were the people who allegedly funnelled money through him and what was the money meant for? Again, although details of his release or otherwise are wobbly, he had spent more than the required number of hours in detention, in contravention of his fundamental human rights. Detaining the officer for that long is wrong because his rights have been infringed upon. On her part, Mrs Buhari needs to provide Nigerians with more clarifications on her allegation. She spoke about Baba-Inna being found out after investigations. Who conducted these investigations and when?
The whole mess is a mirror of the culture of impunity rooted in governments at various levels in the country. Public office provides opportunities for their holders to make huge money in ‘donations’ and to peddle illicit influences. The country must get to the root of this unholy dalliance between government appointees, their relatives/acquaintances and outsiders who are ready to pay huge sums of money to curry favours.