By OHIA ISRAEL
In Nigeria today corruption cases involving public office holders have continued to be thwarted by the powers-that-be. Our investigations revealed that a carefully coordinated plot by the presidency and top echelon of the government is being anchored to sabotage the Goodluck Jonathan administration. The brains behind the plot are throwing spanners in the wheel of government, thereby disrupting and bungling corruption cases leveled against corrupt individuals in the country most of whom are strong players in the political and economic arena of the Nigerian nation.
The latest beneficiary of this done deal is Nigerian rogue banker, Erastus Akingbola, whose case was invalidated by a judge of the Federal High Court in Lagos last week for lack of diligent prosecution. It would be recalled that Akingbola and his associate, Bayo Dada, were standing trial on a 22-count charge bordering on stealing of N42.4 billion from the Intercontinental Bank Plc where Akingbola held sway as managing director.
The case is the eightieth case quashed in courses of well-packaged deals with corrupt persons spearheaded by President Goodluck Jonathan and his Attorney General of the Federation, Bello Adoke. We learnt the deal is aimed at raising funds for President Jonathan 2015 ambition. “The case of Francis Atuche, the former Managing Director of Bank PHB likely to be next in line to be tossed in a similar deal spearheaded by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Ibrahim Auta.
A few weeks ago, an Abuja high court using comparable lingo flung the case against Ndudi Elumelu based on a letter that he wrote to President Jonathan asking for his intervention. The deals remain that many corruption cases, filed by the EFCC have wavers. As it is sources within the anti graft agencies, that more corruption cases have been earmarked to malformed in the coming days and weeks ahead. A source asserts that there are clear designs to free more political followers and associates of President Jonathan from corruption cases.
The plot and schemes is going rivet a convoluted and multifarious network of drills surreptitiously premeditated by Nigeria’s Attorney General and Justice Minister Mohammed Bello Adoke and also enlisted into this deal are also some scoundrel judges and some corrupt, high priced lawyers which are employed by the EFCC to take legal action on its cases. As part of the elaborate plan, some of the lawyers, Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), were hired to “prosecute” their former clients in glaring instances of conflict of interest.
Bankole who has been discharged, was the first recipient of the current scheme to undermine corruption cases, as he was freed from trial over a case in which he used his position to siphon billions of naira for his personal benefit. In February, 2012, an Abuja High Court judge, Justice Suleiman Belgore, dismissed the charges brought against the former speaker and his deputy, Usman Nafada. The judge claimed that the EFCC had failed to establish any fraud case against the accused.
Few days later, Justice Sadiq Umar, also an Abuja High Court judge, dismissed a lawsuit filed against officials accused of receiving bribes in the famous Halliburton case. US courts had convicted top officials of Halliburton, an American-based energy company once headed by former US Vice President Dick Cheney, for bribing numerous Nigerian officials with close to $200 million in order to obtain billion dollar contracts in Nigeria. Justice Umar struck out the Halliburton bribery case, accusing EFCC prosecutors of failure to diligently prosecute the case.
While the next in succession among the cases that were compromised by the Jonathan administration was his N5.2 billion rural electrification contract fraud. Recently a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja struck out the fraud charges against Mr. Elumelu, a former Chairman of the House of Reps’ Committee on Power. Filed by the EFCC, the lawsuit had accused the lawmaker and his co-accused of stealing some N5.2 billion budgeted for rural electrification.
In dismissing the case, Justice Garba Umar claimed that Mr. Elumelu knew nothing about the daylight robbery and then ruled: “He has no case to answer.”
“The judge’s ruling could be mistaken as an informed pronouncement based on the evidence in the case, but that’s far from being the case. However, the whole drama that happened was arranged by President Jonathan, his chief of staff, Mike Ogiadhome and Attorney General Adoke Bello as they were proved to be part of the miscarriage of justice, a source told Desert Herald.
Ndudi Elumelu was said to have addressed a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan in October 11, 2011 providing a glimpse into the high level conspiracy that has gone into what may have led to the collapse of the corruption cases under the President Jonathan administration.
In the letter, Mr. Elumelu painted a picture of harassment by the late President Umaru Yar’adua, claiming that the former ruler had been misadvised by some people to target him with a lawsuit. In the letter, the former chairman of the House committee on power even went as far as citing the case of Dominique Strauss, the French-born former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to buttress the point about the futility of his trial. Mr. Strauss Kahn was accused of raping a woman from Guinea employed as a cleaner in a hotel where the former IMF head was a guest. US prosecutors ultimately decided not to prosecute the French bureaucrat and politician, citing inconsistencies in the victim’s account.
Elumelu had asked the president to intervene directly to stop his prosecution. “That’s a red flag,” said an Abuja-based lawyer, adding, “the doctrine of separation of powers means that the executive ought not to intrude on or meddle in judicial cases.”
Mr. Elumelu’s four-page letter claimed that the EFCC was spending too much money to prosecute the case against him. Asserting that the anti-corruption agency had expended N100 million to prosecute him, the former lawmaker wondered why the money was not spent to provide rural dwellers with electricity.
In 2009, the EFCC had slammed Godwin Ndudi Elumelu, then House of Representatives Chairman of the Committee on Power, his deputy, Jibo Mohammed, Senator Nicholas Yahaya Ugbane, and seven senior management officials of the Rural Electrification Agency with a 156-count charge before a Federal Capital Territory High Court.
It is on record that the EFCC accused the suspects of stealing over N5.2 billion. The indictment depicted Mr. Elumelu as the arrowhead of the illicit contract bonanza through which the funds were stolen.