The highlight of the drama that is the Ibori trial at Southwark County court, South East London occurred when a lady, who claimed to be a family of the Iboris’, came to the public gallery and rained curses on Nigerians shouting: “what is the business of you people (Nigerians) in London to come to court, Na only Ibori steal money? You Nigerians will die in poverty”!
That woman’s query “na only Ibori steal money”, got me wondering; how did Ibori, of all the big time crooks in Nigeria manage to turn into the bogey man of the Nigeria polity and came to epitomise all that is wrong with Nigeria?
Nigerians used to associate the evil genius, IBB, with all that is evil, but it appears Ibori and Aondoakaa have dethroned IBB from the throne as our national symbol of hate.
It used to be that Nigerians- and indeed people of other lands – used to heap the multitude of their national problems at the feet of the person at the helm of affairs. Ex-head of state, Ibrahim Babangida used to say that a Nigerian villager whose goat suffered abortion would blame IBB.
But in the case of Yar’adua, many Nigerians seemed willing to agree with BERTH OBI, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), that Yar’Adua is simply a good man working with bad people.
He said: When you analyse the history of Yar’Adua, you will know that he is an honest person; somebody that has a very good leadership quality and who so much believes in democratic process.
It doesn’t matter to him that it takes a good man to pick good people and it takes a bad man to pick bad people.
One of such bad influence on Yar’adua in the eyes of majority of Nigerians is, Mr James Onanefe Ibori. Is it a coincidence that the second bogey man, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Michael Aondoakaa SAN, was also picked as Attorney General by Ibori, his pal?
Since the inception of the Yar’adua administration, Ibori has been parading himself as the power behind the throne, but all that is about to change, I was authoritatively told. The handwriting has been on the wall for some time, only Ibori is either too blind to see it, or is unintelligent enough to decode it.
Watchers of Yar’adua power politics will not fail to notice a shift in power dynamics, orchestrated by new entrants into the Yar’adua power equation; the new CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the Chief Economic Adviser to Umaru Yar’Adua, Tanimu Kufi.
For the first time since the inception of his administration, Yar’adua has tasted the whiff of popular adulation and he is not about to let go. On two recent issues; the sanitisation of the banking sector by Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and the reformation of the Nigeria civil service structure by the Head of Service, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, President Yar’adua have resisted strident lobbying to rein in the two men.
It is bad enough that Ibori, the dandy suave politician got entangled with Hurricane Sanusi – this hurricane currently blowing through Nigerian banks had exposed how James Ibori, the notorious former governor of Delta State who has been indicted for corruption, is behind the near-collapse of two banks; Oceanic and Inter-Continental banks – whose managements were dissolved by the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The EFCC is also probing the allegation that the Delta State government offered its 820 million units of shares in Oceanic International Plc to Ascot Offshore Nigeria Limited to secure an N44billion-loan from Intercontinental Bank Plc in 2007, (Ascot Offshore Nigeria Limited is connected to James Ibori).
Now, sources say the current money-laundering trial of three female associates of the former state governor, Ibori at the Southwark Crown Court, London, where allegedly aides helped him move an estimated £70 million worth of looted funds through several London banks might yet prove to be the last straw that breaks Ibori’s hold on Yar’adua.
So far, Ibori has used a combination of intimidation, subterfuge and blackmail to keep afloat, but Yar’adua is said to be getting tired of the Ibori distraction.
Same goes for his protector, Aondoakaa. The current ding-dong between the Office of the EFCC and the AGF is said to be at the instigation of Tanimu Kufi, an indication that there is a new Sherriff in town and of the changing dynamics. For her part, the EFCC Chairman has found herself at the centre of the power thug-of-war.
Last week, while Aondoakaa revealed that Nigeria disallowed the British request for Nigeria release witnesses and evidence towards the London money laundering trial of Ibori and his associates, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) wrote to the AGF to invoke relevant clauses in the Mutual Legal Treaty Agreement (MLAT) for the release of the 25 witnesses.
Aondoakaa was forced to eat the humble pie and on Sunday said his office was prepared to release the witnesses if there is a request from the EFCC.
Aondoakaa said: “On the issue of 25 witnesses needed by the Met Police, nobody has brought that information to my notice and immediately I saw the publication in the papers today, I contacted the Secretary of the EFCC, Mr. Emmanuel Akonmaye, who said they will be bringing whatever they have got from the Metropolitan Police on the next working day as regards the witnesses to testify in Ibori’s case. I have no request on my desk in relation to these witnesses. As soon as my office receives the request, it will be treated with dispatch and as the law requires”.
With 2011 politicking approaching, Yar’adua reportedly warned Ibori to clean up his acts and sort himself out as soon as possible.
James Ibori’s strategy appeared to be to limit the damage of the London trial by exercising control over its coverage in local newspapers and thus limit how much Nigerians got to know about the trial and the after-effects. So far, the reporting by the Nigerian local media has been lukewarm, to say the least, but for those that have access to the internet, Ibori has not been succeeding.
But that Ibori is finally reading the handwriting on the wall is signified by the heightened activity of his Man Friday, Tony Eluemunor. This fine gentleman’s media activity – both online and offline – in defence of his pay-master has reached extraordinary proportions.
As for Aondoakaa, his days as AG is said to be numbered. With ordinary Nigerians, the Nigeria Bar Association, Afenifere, Conference of Nigeria Political Parties, Nigeria Labour Congress and others calling for his sack, Yar’adua is said to be planning another populist coup by getting rid of him.
The AG is already jittery, three press Statements issued in the five days since last week defending one incident or the other regarding him has got observers wondering what has come over this overbearing boss that never failed to remind anyone that he is the ‘chief law officer of the Federation’.
“Na only Ibori steal money”? NO! But na Ibori wey people wan see for court and then jail. The women they keep parading in London courts are merely tails, and we ask, where are the heads….all them thief heads…na dem all Nigerians want….sure nor be only Ibori steal money, so we wan make dem catch all them way steal money, if kirikiri nor fit enter them, take some of the money wey dem steal, take am build more kirikiri like place for them….how about the island wey dem baba Obasanjo build for criminals… sotee na there baba belong too, with all him sons,…ibori, uba, igbinedion.. .all of them…….true question…’ na only ibori steal money.
Yes, we cannot wait to see the other thieves that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) released sometime ago; 56 Nigerians that collectively removed over N243 billion from the nation’s treasury.
The names, some of which the EFCC Chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri, referred to as politically revered people in the international community, were contained in a list handed over to the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), as the EFCC and NLC commenced their strategic partnership to intensify the fight against corruption in the country.
The list contained names of well-known politicians, former governors, ministers, permanent secretaries, civil servants, chairmen and members of parastatal agencies, local government chairmen, members of the House of Representatives and senators.
They include: former governors of Jigawa State, Saminu Turaki, N36 billion; Joshua Dariye (Plateau) amount not stated; Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia), N5 billion; Rasheed Ladoja (Oyo), N6 billion; Jolly Nyame (Taraba), N180 million; Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu), N5.3 billion; Boni Haruna (Adamawa), N93 million and Michael Botmang, (acting governor, Plateau) N1. 5 billion.
The EFCC also listed the cases involving a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, Chief Bode George, N100 billion; an Indian businessman, Patrick Fernandez, N32 billion; former Managing Director of FAAN, Roland Iyayi, N5.6 billion; former Minister of Aviation, Professor Babalola Borishade, N5.6 billion; an Austrian businessman, Eider George, N5.6 billion; and Kenny Martins of Police Equipment Fund (PEF), N7.7 billion.
Also on the list are: Tom Isegholi, Mohammed Buba, and Mike Okoli for the Transcorp Plc., N15 billion; Senator Nicholas Ugbane and nine other members of the House of Representatives, N5.2 billion; Iyabo Obasanjo, N10 million; serving Chief of Staff to Rivers State Governor, Nyeson Wike, N4.7 billion; former Aviation Minister Femi-Fani-Kayode, N250 million; four senior Zenith Bank managers, N3.6 billion; Molkat Mutfwang and three others, N636 million; Dr. Ransome Owan and six others, N1.5 billion; a retired Permanent Secretary, Dr. Albert Ikomi, N43 million, and chairman, Taraba State Civil Service Commission, Dr. Yuguda Manu, N17.5 million.
NAMES ON THE EFCC LIST FOR TRIAL
1. Bode George N100 billion
2. Saminu Turaki N36 billion
3. Patrick Fernandez N32 billion
4. Tom Isegholi, Mohammed Buba
and Mike Okoli (for The Transcorp Plc) N15 billion
5. Kenny Martins N7.7 billion
6. Rasheed Ladoja N6 billion
7. Roland Iyayi N5.6 billion
8. Babalola Borishade N5.6 billion
9. Elder George N5.6 billion
10. Chimaroke Nnamani N5.3 billion
11. Senator Nicholas Ugbane and nine other members of the House
of Representatives N5.2 billion
12. Orji Uzor Kalu N5 billion
13. Nyeson Wike N4.7 billion
14. 4 senior Zenith Bank Managers N3.6 billion
15. Michael Botmang N1.5 billion
16. Ransome Owan and 6 others N1.5 billion
17. Molkat Mutfwang and 3 others N636 million
18. Femi-Fani-Kayode N250 million
19. Jolly Nyame N180 million
20. Boni Haruna N93 million
21. Dr. Albert Ikomi N43 million
22. Dr. Yuguda Manu N17.5 million
23. Senator Iyabo Obasanjo
24. Joshua Dariye (amount not stated)