The thrust of the message delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari in his speech at the Paris Peace Forum on Sunday was waging war against corruption, which has been one of the cornerstones of his administration.
In fact, he titled his presentation 'Illicit Financial Flows and Corruption: The Challenge of Global Governance'. And he listed money laundering and transfer pricing mechanisms as some of the means of moving illicit finances. He sought the cooperation of the international community in the war against corruption in Nigeria.
However, no sooner had he made the statement on the global stage than the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr Ibrahim Magu announced the commission’s decision to extradite Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, former Petroleum Minister and first female President of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) from the United Kingdom to Nigeria.
While, on the surface, it looks commendable to bring the former minister to this country to face the full wrath of the law, there are still some reasons her extradition may not satisfy the end for which it is intended.
The Same Crime, Different Treatments
While the Buhari-led administration has reiterated its determination to fight corruption to the point of triteness, it is still cheering news for some people when the president announces, afresh, his resolve to sanitize the country by fighting corruption. It becomes the talk of the town especially when names are mentioned concerning the crimes committed. However, it will not be uncharitable with the ample and palpable evidence on the ground to say the Buhari administration has been found wanting in his administering of justice. The administration is like a big daddy that wields a carrot and a stick at the same time, giving which it deems fit depending on the political affiliation of the supposed criminal under investigation.
A kid-glove treatment is given to you if you become a member of the political camp of the president. Once you belong to a party other than his, the kid gloves are taken off to be replaced with red-hot iron fists. We should not forget how, among others, the travails of Musiliu Obanikoro, former senator, High Commissioner, and Minister of State for Defence, travails turned to triumph once he defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) the president’s political party. This happened despite his involvement in the mismanagement of the same money meant for arms procurement for which Sambo Dasuki is cooling his feet in prison and Fayose, Obanikoro’s accomplice, is embroiled in legal battle. Isn't it a no-brainer that all the charges against Diezani will be dropped should she find her way to the ruling party post-extradition?
Our Dysfunctional System
It is common knowledge that we operate a pathetically dysfunctional government in this part of the world. We have weak institutions and strong individuals who exploit our institutional weaknesses to their benefits. Diezani may be an ordinary person in the United Kingdom but once she sets foot in the country she sloughs off the status of ordinariness and dons that of a special citizen. The truth is — despite not being in the corridors of power again — Diezani belongs to the class of strong individuals with the clout to use our weak institutions to their favour. She has what it takes to pervert the course of justice.
Malami Is Not Different From Michael
We should not forget the role played by Mr Michael Kaase Aondoaka, former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, to shield James Ibori, former Delta State Governor, from prosecution despite convincing dossiers of shady dealings brought against him during Yar'Adua’s administration. The current chief law officer of the country, Abubakar Malami, did not fare any better in the way he handled Abdulrasheed Maina’s case. Like Michael, Like Malami. Is this the man that will lead the prosecution against the financial firepower called Diezani or do we think the financial strength of the woman has been completely depleted? The justice system of the western world is not fool-proof, too; after all, the late Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former Bayelsa governor, jumped bail and escaped the long arm of justice from the United States of America. However, for every Alamiesiegha that escaped, there is an Ibori made to face the full wrath of the law.
Our Partisan EFCC
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as it is now is not an independent body. The response of the EFCC Chairman on the bribery allegations against the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, in a recent interview, speaks volumes of the where the loyalty of the Chairman lies. Consequently, despite his desperation to get the former minister of petroleum extradited, the charges against her will be dropped once she plays her cards very well and ‘the powers that be’ instruct Magu to let her be.