Whether Mr. Abubakar Audu looted the treasury of Kogi State to the hefty tune of eleven billion naira while serving as Kogi State governor in the years between 1999 to 2003 as alleged by the Economic Financial and Crimes Commission, EFCC, is now for the court to decide.
However, that no judicial decision has been reached since the allegations were raised against the accused in about a decade is certainly an issue which will continue to mystify many watchers of the case.
Simply put, while the EFCC on the one hand has cried foul by claiming that the accused, Mr. Audu has been delaying the trial with unnecessary interlocutory injunctions, the accused on the other hand, aside denying all the multiple charges, has argued that the trial is politically motivated.
Nevertheless, Mr. Audu’s witty commentaries in various interactions with the media about the trial when combined with his recent venture into politics for pursuit of Kogi state governorship seat, perceptibly depicts a man at peace with whatever that is happening around him. Even so, one does not really have to be a psychologist to know that such seeming calmness bothers more on personal attitude or a make believe script than probable outcome of the trial.
Fortunately, the case of “F.R.N Vs Abubakar Audu & 1 other Charge No: FCT/CR/115/ 2013”of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Apo Abuja is not a movie. It is about justice, the Kogi people and EFCC’s quest to recover alleged stolen wealth of Kogi State. Sadly, President Buhari’s APC seems to have a different agenda on such. Emphatically, the APC’s desire for the Kogi people is definitely far from addressing the alleged loot of 11 billion naira under the Audu Abubakar led administration.
Otherwise, the APC would not have extended to Mr. Audu the privilege of being its nominee for the forthcoming Kogi State governorship race. Infact, that this was done against a purported advice of the EFFC which unfortunately was ostensibly subdued by the same National ruling party of Nigeria that prides itself as an administration that upholds anti graft as its major focus, speak volumes.
Succinctly put, the lesson from here is that the APC and the Kogi people are on different pages on this EFCC’s legal tussle with Mr. Audu. From all reasonable logic, the APC certainly has its intentions well spelt out and such does not conform with the EFCC efforts to assist Kogi State on an issue that has been investigated by the nation’s anti corruption agency and Mr. Audu found wanting. What this clearly shows is a strange contradiction that portrays APC as aggressively fighting its own agenda, the President Buhari’s highly praised anti graft battle. Certainly, any objective analyst would appreciate that this is a very uninteresting story and twist for Nigeria’s democracy. The obvious truth is that where commonsense prevails, it will be tragic error for anyone to give the key of a warehouse that has just being burgled to a gatekeeper that the police is prosecuting over indictable theft charges related to the same warehouse. The plain truth is that such a prosecution is best regarded as scuttled before judgement, indeed, even if the policeman charged with the responsibility of handling such a case is a dullard, he would need no person to tell him that he has reached the end of the road. Sadly, this is what the APC in its capacity as the ruling party in Nigeria appears to have done to the EFCC on its case involving Mr. Audu. What a wish for the Kogi people!
With benefit of hindsight, that the Kogi state people believed in the good intentions of the Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s candidacy is akin to repeating the obvious as it was openly demonstrated through their votes for the APC in the presidential elections that thrust President Buhari to the nation’s number one throne about eight months ago. Even though Kogi State was then predominantly PDP, a rival party to the APC, the Kogi electorate could not resist Buhari’s attraction as a man of integrity. Indeed, Buhari’s call for change must have contributed to what the Kogi people anticipated would be of tremendous benefit to them. Unfortunately, with just the passage of five months in President Buhari’s leadership, emerging actions from his APC, particularly regarding the support to Mr. Audu, are considered contrary indications that the promises of President Buhari on anti corruption is working in Kogi state. This is certainly an issue of great worry and shock to the Kogi public especially on their support for Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency.
The point here is that it is highly paradoxical, that a government which is prosecuting an individual through the nation’s anti graft agency is on the converse assisting the same individual through its political party to become a state governor, a status which will automatically suspend or terminate a trial of alleged looting of public treasury involving over 11 billion naira. On this, the perception by any objective mind is that should this trial be left inconclusive and an accused like Mr. Audu is allowed to rule again, if truly he is guilty as charged, the possibility of being unrepentant is very high as criminals are known to be continuous offenders where fitting rehabilitative effects of the criminal law is not meted upon them or in situations where justice seems easy escape. To a large extent, this may permit such a person to go on irreparable damage on the Kogi treasury as much as he may desire. In such a situation, the victim will be the Kogi people and the entire Kogi society may never get justice. As such, the temptation of allowing Mr. Audu to cunningly get a postponement of his trial should be highly resisted as the consequences of further lengthening or delaying of the trial puts the Kogi public at great risk.
Without doubt, what President Buhari’s APC is doing in Kogi State by supporting Mr. Audu as its candidate for the Kogi governorship election is unrealistic and runs against the common interest of the Kogi people. Supposedly, what the APC wants to do in Kogi state is to impose upon the Kogi people, a man in the complexion of a governor that is already carrying a baggage of alleged financial criminality of multiple charges. This is where there is resounding worry that the APC’s hidden agenda is to use the immunity clause extended to governors to protect an accused, Mr. Audu.
However, in the spirit of patriotism, the Buhari Administration must be reminded that it owes the society the responsibility to bring accused persons to trial rather than providing a safe haven for them to deceitfully postpone justice in the name of politics. Otherwise, anyone found abetting such irregularity, will be termed an accomplice in irrationally deferring justice.
Even though it seems clear that APC may stop at nothing in order to save Mr. Audu’s political future and trial, the APC must desist from making the concerted efforts of Nigerians to fight corruption a walking skeleton awaiting death. The very sad fact herein is that with Mr. Audu as a contestant in the Kogi election, the Buhari’s anti corruption sword may be assumed to have a double edge. Prof Pius Adesanmi summed is all “…a SAN and Professor of Law and Nigeria’s Vice President, on the same podium with a filthy, corrupt yam eater like Abubakar Audu will set Nigeria back by two centuries.
What is wrong with these people? As if it ain’t bad enough to have a criminal as your party flag bearer, one of the shining lights of the administration, who screams the anti-corruption mantra the loudest, will go and raise his hands on a podium in Okene. So, how is Mangu supposed to mangle Audu now? Osinbajo’s hard-earned reputation will take a terrible hit if photos of him and Audu appear tomorrow…” Nevertheless, any good citizen of Kogi state must understand that the obvious support of President Buhari’s party to Mr. Audu will amount to nothing if they decide to cast their votes for the protection of the Kogi state treasury and common good.
– Phrank Shaibu, is Chief Communications Manager to Kogi State Governor