The ignorance and the real import of the ‘Boko Haram’ madness are still with us and still offend the senses. However, a clear understanding had since emerged that the surprisingly swiftly-crushed insurgence was actually motivated by a feeling of disenchantment about things north of the Niger and that the insurgent was directed mainly at the lords up there. Others have even suggested that some of Yar’Adua’s northern brethrens have become too embarrassed by his ineptitude and wanted to push or disrupt his stasis. There is also the suggestion that giving the lopsidedness of things, the people would rather have proper Sharia and not what currently obtains in northern Nigeria.
Well, I don’t know where the truth lies in all of this but it certainly got me thinking about the likes of Sani Yerima, the erstwhile Governor of Zamfara State. Remember him? Yerima it was who belled the Sharia cat and became the Apostle-in-Chief of made-in-Nigeria Sharia. Yerima, on October 22 2000 rose up from the obscurity of Zamfara, grew a painfully scraggly and timid looking beard and announced that he was going to inflict his own version of Sharia on the good people of Zamfara. It turned out he was only the ‘guinea pig.’ Before you could say ‘Federal Republic,’ other unimpressive governors up North have lined up behind him. Former President Obasanjo, in his ever biased “kampeism” chose to siddon look. For him, the aberration wasn’t happening in Lagos, the South East, or the South South, so he was cool with it.
Yerima promised that his made-in-Nigeria Sharia would not affect non-Muslims, but would "purge the system" of corruption. Well, his brand of Sharia was introduced – with fanfare, Nigerian style - amid religious violence across the North, leading to hundreds of deaths of mostly non-Muslims and the destruction of properties.
His Sharia and the subsequent version adopted across the northern part of Nigeria sees absolutely nothing wrong with happily collecting VAT money off the sales of alcohol and such haram items like beer parlours and brothels’ tax revenue. Similarly, their Sharia doesn’t shun the modernity and westernised interest-earning banking system and investments. Though Yerima’s version prescribes the loss of limbs and public whipping for petty thieves and such others in his enclave, he paradoxically and audaciously proclaimed that it was perfectly alright for State Commissioners and other government officials to accept bribes provided the work was done. He declared that receiving bribe (by government officials!) is not stealing. In other words, his made-in-Nigeria version was going to be a poor man’s Sharia.
As far back as June 2000, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) accused Yerima of “high corruption, misappropriation of public funds and squander-mania.” Now, if the PDP - of all bodies - can so accuse a person, then that is certainly saying something. Ribadu once said of Yerima in a BBC interview: "The case of Zamfara State is a tragedy - direct stealing - no third party."
And before he left office as Governor, Ribadu’s Economic & Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) formally tagged Yerima with the corruption baton. Specifically, on August 28 2006, Sani Yerima and seven of his officials including the Secretary to the State Government, Abubakar Moriki; the State’s Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Idris Mohammed Keta; and the Secretary to the State Finance and General Purpose Committee, Bala Wakili were charged before an Abuja Federal High Court on a 36-count charge of laundering N750 million and of conspiracy. The EFCC charge detailed that the looting was “gross misappropriation of local government funds, award of contracts, Ecological funds, Education Tax Funds, and illegal bank loans.” The money was alleged to have been illegally transferred through the Standard Trust of Nigeria, now part of United Bank for Africa (UBA). As the EFCC dragged the three men to court (Yerima had immunity then), other Zamfara State officials including the Accountant General, Kasimu Mohammed Anka; the State Commissioner for Finance, Bello Makau; and one Abdulaziz Abubakar Yari voted with their feet and did a runner. Later on, there were further charges of looted funds running into billions of Naira levelled against Yerima.
Now currently a Senator, Yerima’s corrupt practices have only been reinforced. The PDP Chairman, Vincent Ogbulafor recently moved into an Abuja mansion that was purchased for a whopping N400million. That mansion belonged to the former Governor of Kebbi State and current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Adamu Aliero. The mansion was partly paid for by a rice contract issued to a company, BESKMA International Ltd on 21 August 2008 by the current Governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wammako, for N1.794billion to supply 260,000 bags of rice. BESKMA international Ltd is owned by Sani Yerima. Amongst its Directors was Makau Bello (remember him?). He left after having been cheated out by Yerima. As I write, not even 1 bag of rice has been delivered anywhere in Sokoto. Instead, part of the down payment for that contract – N150million - went towards the payment for Ogbulafor’s mansion. The Sokoto State Governor and a few other PDP governors and contractors paid the remainder of N250million.
But Yerima (who was once quoted back in late 2002 after his shoes were stolen from the Government House Mosque in Gusau as saying that if and when the thief was caught he would have both his hands and legs cut off; and even managed to slice off the hand of one poor chap who, it was alleged, stole a cow) still has his own limbs and beard well intact. Nobody has flogged him that I am aware of, and is today living large and rubbing shoulders with other great guns like Iyiola Omisore and Chimaroke Nnamani.
Adamu Aliero has become something else. He has his fingers in all sorts of nefarious pies from Imo to Kebbi and is striding to become Capo de tutti capi in the realm of ‘anything goes’ Nigeria and corruption. Even citizens of his home State had to petition the EFCC twice to investigate their man for “contract scams, money laundering, fraudulent encashment of negotiable instruments and financial impropriety” of well over N10billion. Aliero was reported to be the conduit for the N650million Ohakim paid to the Imo State Electoral Tribunal members for him to remain in government house, Owerri through the Tribunal chairman, Justice Ibrahim Mairiga, who is Aliero’s relative. Ailero certainly visited that State several times during the Tribunal proceedings and has plenty of business contracts there now. Back in October 2008, as a Senator, the Independent Corrupt Practices & other related offences Commission (ICPC) dragged Aliero before a State High Court over the award of an N11million contract for the supply of 9,422 chickens to schools whilst he was still in office as governor. That very inflated contract was awarded to P.P. Madus Nigeria Ltd, a non-registered company, by the State Tenders Board. The ICPC was compelled to investigate because the contract was awarded for the 30 days during fasting of Ramadan in 2005. This was the state of play when Yar’Adua tapped Aliero to become our FCT Minister in December 2008. Aliero already has close to 50 properties in Abuja alone. His London mansion which he bought in 2005 from the family of late Senator Adamu Augi is being used by his (then newly wedded 18 year old) wife.
Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa was the former Governor of Sokoto State. Till today, the EFCC has refused to release his passport to him because the EFCC said it had it on good authority that Bafarawa was planning to run away from the country. He had five separate petitions against him submitted to the EFCC for money laundering and official corruption. Some of the allegations against him included: The withdrawal of the sum of N200million monthly from the joint account of the State government and the 23 local governments of the State with UBA and payment of same into an account known as SSG II which he alone operated; The sum of N2billion being unaccounted for; The approval of N1billion which was used for the opening of a letter of credit by UBA for the importation of iron rod. Upon the importation, Bafarawa then approved N900million for their haulage fees from Lagos to Sokoto by Bedash Nigeria Ltd, a company owned by his friend and business associate, Abubakar Bida. Bafarawa later collected the sum of N100million from Bida as his own commission on the deal; The award of contract for the purchase of bedding materials for the Attahiru Bafarawa Institute of Quranic and General Studies, Sokoto at the cost of N52million. That N52million was paid in cash but the items were never supplied to the school.
In fact, just two months after Bafarawa left office, the new Sokoto State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice also forwarded another petition to the EFCC. He claimed Bafarawa stole billions of Naira from the State coffers specifically from 2004 - 2006. And that part of that loot was used to finance his futile Presidential campaign in 2007. Bafarawa also has a nice mansion in London that cost £795,000.00. But Bafarawa in July 2008 took the EFCC to an Abuja Federal High Court claiming that the seizure of his passport prevented him from performing the lesser Hajj (Umrah); that he had asthma and glaucoma for which he wanted to travel to London to see his personal Doctor; and that the seizure “had rubbished my integrity and impeccable record.”
Another former Governor who is also now a Senator is Saminu Turaki. He was charged with stealing some N36billion from the treasury of Jigawa State as well as diverting State funds through several front companies run by his associates and his brother, Bashir Turaki. The alleged associates as well as Bashir also did a runner. Saminu Turaki also took a $100million personal loan from Guaranty Trust Bank. The $100million loan was secured with an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) against Jigawa’s monthly allocation from the Federation Account. The money was used to finance the development of three oil fields given to him by Obasanjo. Saminu Turaki similarly owns a very magnificent mansion in Malaysia where one of his wives is permanently situated. Between Jigawa and Zamfara, it is a toss-up which of the two is the poorest State in the country.
This is the public face and the reality of made-in-Nigeria Sharia. Its practice has followed a similar dichotomous path: Only the poor masses are force-fed a deceitful doctrine. Their very own ‘dividend of democracy.’ A doctrine that doesn’t apply to the rulers, the rich and their kinds who are enjoying all that modern life has to offer in corrupt abundance, and who intemperately flaunt it all among the very poor and the oppressed. Did Mohammed Abacha, the shameless thieving scion of the great thief Sani Abacha, not announce just the other day that he was going to use the proceeds of our loot (that Obasanjo allowed him to keep in a deal to recoup a larger part of our stolen money from his larcenous family) to seek political office? He wants to be the next Governor of Kano State. Did the recent wedding ceremony of the Governor of Bauchi, Isa Yuguda to Yar’Adua’s daughter, Nafisa, not cost upwards of N300million? So why won’t people get fed up and protest against the State? Why won’t some gullible people think ‘western education’ has corrupted life as they know it; as they now experience it?