Peter Odili and the swagger of the Nigerian ruling class

Peter OdiliAfter watching the Federal High Court in Abuja bar the anti-corruption agency, EFCC from arresting; detaining, prosecuting or embarrassing the former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, over alleged N189 million debts owed Finbank Plc; I was reminded of Yinka Odumakin statement that after watching the election tribunal award victory to Otumba Gbenga Daniel, “he is more than ever convinced that anybody who still thinks it is possible to use the master’s tools to break the master’s house under the PDP needs deliverance at MFM”!  

Odili, who has a court order stopping the agency from arresting him, also secured another order regarding his property in any part of the country. The court said the anti-graft body and the CBN or any of their agents must not trespass on his property for the purpose of realising security for his indebtedness to the bank. 

 In 2007, the former Rivers State Governor also dragged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission before the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, asking the court to restrain the anti-graft body from prosecuting him over his tenure between May 29, 1999 and 2007.

The ex-governor had approached the court through an ex-parte application and urged the court to restrain the EFCC and its agents from arresting or prosecuting him, pending the determination of his application.

Odili, who also joined the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as co-respondents to the suit, claimed that the anti-graft body was planning to prosecute him pursuant to the commission’s alleged investigation of his tenure for eight years. The plaintiff also wants the court to grant him an order of interlocutory injunction, restraining the EFCC from disseminating, publishing or circulating the report of its investigation of his tenure in Rivers State.

Peter Odili was not alone; his other ‘cousins in crime’, James Ibori and Orji Uzor Kalu also used the court to frustrate the determined efforts of the Nuhu Ribadu-led EFCC to bring them to book. 

Karl Max said in the Communist Manifesto that under capitalism, the ruling class adheres to a dominant order to safeguard their privileges through the legitimized use of force, prison systems and court systems. 

In this instance, the Federal High Court in Abuja court held that the former governor is a legitimate Nigerian who took a legitimate loan from a legitimate Nigerian bank. The court sitting in Maitama ordered that EFCC, CBN and FinBank must not act against the former governor, upon being served with originating summons in a suit in which Odili sought protection of his fundamental rights.   
Justice Gabriel Kolawole issued the order in Abuja while ruling in an ex-parte motion brought to the court by the politician. 
The judge ordered that even in the absence of a written order from the court for now, none of the defendants upon receiving originating summons from the plaintiff must take any step or act in any manner that would prejudice the issue already brought before it. 
Odili had sued the EFCC, CBN and Finbank, praying for an order restraining the three defendants from apprehending him or interfering with his banking operations and the relationship between him and his bank.

He urged the court to stop the defendants from trespassing any of his property for the purpose of security for his indebtedness.   

In the motions, Odili admitted being a customer to FinBank and that indebtedness arose in the normal course of banking business.  What more evidence do you need to support Al Capone’s claim that Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class.

Just as Karl Max said in the Communist Manifesto that under capitalism, the ruling class uses the court systems to safeguard their privileges, they could also buy the best legal representation; through a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Ifedayo Adedipe, Odili insisted that it was not the duty or business of EFCC to turn itself to debt recovery body in place of the NDIC. 
He submitted that the CBN and EFCC acted illegally by publishing his name in newspaper advertorials as a debtor when the plaintiff is a legitimate Nigerian who took a legitimate loan from a Nigerian bank. 
Ruling, Justice Kolawole held that his Court has to intervene because of the nature of the suit which he said bothered on fundamental human rights of the plaintiff. 

He ordered that the originating summons be immediately served on the three defendants who must appear before the Court on September 17, to prove why the plaintiff’s fundamental rights must not be protected. 

It is to be noted that Nuhu Ribadu, the then Economic and Financial Crimes Commission boss delivered to the ex-resident Obasanjo’s desk a damning report of financial hanky panky in Rivers State under Odili’s watch. It is a sad, sorry picture of a governor’s gluttony at its rapacious worst. Their investigation revealed that over N100 billion of Rivers State funds were diverted by Governor Odili using Mr. Arumemi- Ikhide and his related companies.


Focusing on the activities of Rockson Engineering Company Limited, the report indicated that the governor appeared to have used this and other corporate fronts in siphoning a hundred billion naira. “It was further established,” part of the report read, “that Rockson Engineering Company Limited transferred over $120 million through JM/JEM Air and one Thomas Eggar, a lawyer in the UK, to various bank accounts overseas. Over GBP 2 million and EURO 1 million were also transferred overseas in the same manner. These transfers were done between January and November 2006. It is important to note that all the naira denomination of these transfers were direct lodgments originating from Rivers state Government accounts.” 

It was far from the worst of it. The EFCC also “established that Mr. Arumemi-Ikhide, the business partner of the Rivers State Governor, is the owner of ARIK AIR LIMITED. He used monies received from the Rivers state Government to acquire all the assets and aircrafts (sic) of the company estimated to be worth over N25billion.” The commission concluded that “it is abundantly clear that the Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, is using Mr. Arumemi-Ikhide and his Rockson Engineering Company Ltd as a front and a crony for the systematic looting of the treasury of the Rivers state Government.  

To illustrate how stingy these rapacious men could be; what prevents Odili from dipping his hands into this looted funds to pay the N189 million debts owed Finbank Plc, just like Jimoh Ibrahim, Aliko Dangote and others have done?

Bank debtors who have paid this week are:

*Goody Ibru —N1billion to Union Bank Plc
*Dapo Abiodun of Heyden Oil Ltd — N150million to Oceanic Bank Plc
*Ibeto Cement Company- N400million to Union Bank Plc
*Rahamania Oil —N53million to Oceanic Bank Plc
*Damanax Cement — N1.8billion to Union Bank Plc
*MD, Dangote Industries, Kunle Alake in his personal capacity— N41.5million to Oceanic Bank