Perceptor
“By doubting we come to question, and by questioning, we perceive the truth.”-(Peter Abelard, 1079-1142)

Despite all the brouhaha about Nuhu Ribadu and the wonderful job that he did in eradicating corruption from Nigeria (Oh! You mean … that there were still some corrupt persons at large as at the time that he was removed? Perceptor is SHOCKED!) … But anyway, despite all the brouhaha about Ribadu, Perceptor is perfectly prepared to give Mrs. Farida Waziri the benefit of the doubt as regards the question of whether the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under her leadership is ready, willing and able to fight corruption in ways that actually have an effect in winning the battle, rather than a few skirmishes here and there. There seems to have been rather a lot more going on, EFCC-wise, at conferences, launchings and in press releases than in actual results in the form of not just arrests, but actual trials and convictions. For example, we have Mrs. Waziri’s claim that it is the courts who are preventing the EFCC from doing its job, and claims that ‘enemies’ of Yar’Adua are planning to target the Commission in order to discredit the President. Naturally, some questions arise …

 

1.    In exactly how many cases has the EFCC been prevented from carrying out its work because of court injunctions? Who are the suspects who obtained such injunctions, and from what courts?
We all know that former Governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili, got an injunction to restrain the EFCC from investigating him. But he is only one person. If other suspects have secured similar injunctions, the Nigerian public is entitled to a full list of such suspects. Odili’s injunction was apparently based on the immunity that he enjoyed as a governor while he was in office. So there can’t be that many suspects who can get an injunction on the ground that they too once enjoyed immunity. Mrs. Waziri therefore shouldn’t have any problem in presenting us with a list of such names. If the injunctions have been based on other grounds, we’d also like to know what those are too.

Otherwise, we may start to wonder whether Mrs. Waziri isn’t just hiding her failure to act in certain cases behind the time-honoured policeman’s excuse that it is the courts that are at fault. We might start to wonder whether there are in fact any other such injunctions …

2.    So, what is the EFCC doing about all these injunctions?
Although Odili got an injunction on the specious ground that he committed the actions alleged against him while he enjoyed immunity as governor, the Constitution only says that he can’t be arrested, charged or tried for a criminal offence or even sued WHILE IN OFFICE. But he’s not in office now. Even if a judge in his Rivers State thinks he should get an injunction for that, what does the Court of Appeal say? In other words, has the EFCC actually appealed against Odili’s injunction? Or against any of the other alleged injunctions? Even if it suspected that the Court of Appeal (which messed up so spectacularly when it was handling the question of who was the PDP’s candidate for governor in the April 2007 elections and where Odili’s wife sits on the bench) might also think that he should retain immunity, shouldn’t the EFCC try to find out? And if the Court of Appeal agrees with the High Court, what about the Supreme Court?

Perceptor is afraid that just like Attorney-General Aondoakaa boasting and rejoicing that a court in England refused to act against ex-governor of Delta State, James Ibori, because he, Aondoakaa, had not issued the necessary permission (instead of immediately correcting himself and going ahead to actually issue the necessary permission) – the EFCC would completely miss the point if it contents itself with an injunction granted by a court of first instance and fails to explain what steps it has taken to overcome the hurdles presented by the Courts. In this case, anything other than vigorously pursued appeals will inevitably lead to suspicions that the EFCC is conniving at the injunctions that it is now using as an excuse …

3.    Such energy against the administration of sitting Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State! Such indolence against the former governors! Why the contrast?

Uncharitable minds observing the vigour with which the EFCC is going after the aides and commissioners of Governor Amaechi might wonder whether the EFCC has forgotten that in the case of ex-governor Peter Odili, it has held its hands out to be tied with an injunction granted on the nonsensical basis that he was free to commit crimes while he was in office, and they must not be investigated. Perhaps the EFCC has, while waiting to overturn the Odili injunction, been pursuing Odili’s former aides and commissioners with vigour? If it has, Perceptor thinks we should be told.

Perceptor remains convinced that if those who spend so much energy whining on about the immunity enjoyed by sitting governors spent half as much on arresting and prosecuting those who might be tempted to assist them to break the law, we’d have less criminality from those holding executive office under the Constitution. For example, by the time ten police orderlies have been arrested and charged for breaching orders against the use of sirens, immune governors will learn to leave early or arrive late. Or is the IGP going to tell us that he doesn’t know which policemen are assigned to which lawbreaking siren-blower? Or could it be that the chief late-departers are … senior police officers?!

4.    Why launch a campaign against corruption AGAIN?
Perceptor isn’t in the business of image-laundering, but can confidently promise that in the case of the EFCC, it ain’t going to happen on the back of a bit of desultory sloganeering and badge-wearing. Even if Mr. President takes part. In fact, ESPECIALLY if Mr. President takes part. By spending so much time going after Nuhu Ribadu, the EFCC has lost the battle for the hearts and minds of Nigerians, and if anybody thinks that corruption will be eradicated when Nigerians don’t trust one of the main bodies that is supposed to be fighting it, they need to get the next train OUT of CLOUD CUCKOO LAND.
If the EFCC wants to win the support of the Nigerian people, let it deploy to PHCN. Let it find out what links – if any – there are between people importing generators, people selling fuel, especially diesel fuel, and individuals holding sway at PHCN, or – since it really hasn’t demonstrated any actual change apart from the name – NEPA. Perceptor can guarantee that once the inevitable result of concentrating investigation in the power supply sector is achieved – regular electric power supply – Mrs. Waziri will hear less of Ribadu and Mercedes Benz jeeps.

5.    Or is the claim that Yar’Adua’s foes are targeting the EFCC being made now because the EFCC knows that more scandals about it and its current leadership are about to burst?
Perceptor is genuinely baffled. Why doesn’t EFCC concentrate on doing its job instead of hunting for enemies, real or imagined? Here’s some more advice to the EFCC on how to deal with the alleged ‘targeting’. Performance, performance, performance. Bloody well GET ON WITH IT!

 
On the one hand …
The Federal Government thinks that treatment at the National Hospital Abuja or Jos University Teaching Hospital is good enough for Henry Okah, leader of the Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) who has kidney problems and is standing secret trial for treason and treasonable felony. The FG has the impudence to claim that the facilities here are good enough and that in any case, if Okah is allowed overseas to countries where he can get the proper treatment, he might CLAIM ASYLUM! (Perceptor can only assume that they’re afraid that it might be GRANTED!)
On the other hand …

President Umaru Yar’Adua, who of course doesn’t have kidney problems – at least, we haven’t been told – flies abroad to treat everything from a bit of dust inhalation to … well, we haven’t been told … but whatever it was that kept him in Saudi Arabia ‘performing the lesser hajj’. Yar’Adua, thank heavens, isn’t standing trial for treasonable felony or anything else (except in the court of public opinion) so he is free to come and go as he pleases in any case. But …
On the third hand (or is it the back foot?) …

If you DO happen to be standing trial and need treatment overseas, it’s probably best to be an ex-governor being prosecuted by the EFCC. No nonsense about whether they’ll come back or not with our former governors! No worries about whether THEY will claim ASYLUM if they ‘go for treatment’ overseas. Experience suggests that it might not be granted …

The Song, not the Singer (Part I)
The Blessed Saint Dora of Akunyili has been translated (as we say in ecclesiastical circles) from NAFDAC to the Ministry of Information. Divine, she says. Perhaps. Problem is, St. D was an effective advocate for NAFDAC because (a) she had a good product to sell – the shock about ‘My Pikin’ is actually testimony to just how effective NAFDAC has been in making Nigerians feel that their food and drugs are safe – and (b) because she was in charge of the product – as DG of NAFDAC, St. Dora had the authority to ensure that things were being done right, and she could then speak with confidence and conviction about NAFDAC, a confidence and conviction that carried through.

But who is in charge of the product known as the Federal Government of Nigeria? Exactly! So St. Dora is going to have problems selling the product because (a) she won’t be in any position to guarantee the quality and (b) … well … the actual quality of the product …
St. D may be a fantastic singer. But the problem is with the song my dears, the song …

The Song, not the Singer (Part II)
Perceptor obviously hasn’t been reading the right newspapers, or on the right days, so hasn’t caught any of these advertisements listing the properties that the SINGER behind Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, is said to own. In fact, Perceptor only caught up with the story, or rather, the stories about the adverts, along with all the rebuttals that went along with it showing that our proprietor here on this website is just a TENANT! Oh dear. Never mind Sowore. Your time will come – houses are very cheap in the US right now …
However, Perceptor is a bit concerned that the FGN spent so much money trying to dig up dirt on Sowore. For one thing, using print media adverts to smear an internet-based news source is a nonsense, and suggests only that some flunkeys in government want to show their oga that they are ‘doing something about that boy’ and ‘can we now have large sums of money please?’.

But the problem is that the message is bad because the message is bad, not because the messenger is bad. Perceptor noticed the same thing when Segun Adeniyi went to great lengths trying to refute Leadership newspaper’s editorial on The State of the Nation and seemed to think that if he attacked the editorial writers as being malicious, it would mean that the actual facts that Leadership complained of were non-existent. But the problem was not with Leadership – the messenger, and it is not with Sowore – the singer. It’s with the FGN. And with the abysmal performance of the Yar’Adua administration. The problem my dears is with the SONG, not the SINGER!

More Oba-Naija-ma-mania
Quite a large number of our ‘elected’ representatives seem to be planning to skive off work in the New Year on the excuse that they will be ‘going for the inauguration’ of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.
Given the reported huge numbers expected to turn up for the event, Perceptor suspects that if a list is being made of those who deserve to attend any US Presidential inauguration events, Nigerian election-stealers aren’t going to be very near the top of it so why the rush to Washington DC?

What’s more, hotel rooms will be in very short supply on the 19th and 20th of January 2009 in Washington. In the circumstances, Perceptor wonders whether – though tickets may be purchased and estacode calculated and paid – some legislators might not prefer to divert to other parts of the United States where they can watch the proceedings in comfort … on TV!

Last Word
Just signing off when news of the sentence imposed on ‘Lucky’ Igbenedion for failing to declare an account in which he had a sum of N3,579,524.16. Igbenedion had pleaded guilty to the charge – the only charge against him – and was promptly fined the exact amount in the account. Putting a brave face on it, the EFCC’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs, said that he had been forced to amend the original 191 count charge to a 24 count charge, only one of which related to Igbenedion because ‘the commission could not lay hand on witnesses to prosecute its earlier allegations against the former governor’. Now why isn’t Perceptor surprised at that? Too busy, launching, making statements, holding conferences perhaps?

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