Monday, April 26, 2010
PERSONALIZED WAR ON CORRUPTION, JAMES IBORI UNFAIRLY SINGLED OUT?
It is a cannon of legal jurisprudence of fairness that 'justice must not only be done but must be seen to be manifestly done'; and necessarily following as a sine qua non is the expectation that prosecution of suspects must not be a cover to persecute them, including perceived political enemies? Therefore in his declared renewed fight against corruption in Nigeria, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan must not be seen to be specifically directing the fangs of the EFCC at only James Ibori, since James is but one sliver of hair in the cacophony of corruption and corrupt persons in Nigeria. This apparent rage of vindictiveness at James Ibori is uncalled for; admitted that James Ibori took a wrong bet in the last struggle for power, but real statesmen don't hold grudges? Moreso, no one knows tomorrow as it may be a James Ibori's presidency of tomorrow that might call for the head of Jonathan Goodluck on a platter? Afterall, it was not too long ago that the acting president himself was relegated to the background by the cabal which had Ibori in its membership. But lo and behold, today as the good Lord Almighty will have it, things turned and the first became the last and vice versa. Now should Jonathan Goodluck grimace at his good fortune and then misuse it in a manner that will not be pleasing to the Lord by abusing it? Icheoku says no wise man would so do; and hence calls on the acting president to retreat from his apparent "Get Ibori at all cost trajectory." So taking a heed from the popular saying among soldiers, 'soldier go soldier come barracks no dey close," the acting president must understand that power is transitional and very ephemeral and avoid its abuse. He must also avoid being seen as using his good office to haunt and hound his perceived political enemies; and being such a vendetta-seeking and vindictive person automatically turns people off. If the acting president is ever in doubt, he should ask Obasanjo why Nigerians hate him the most and with passion. Today it is Jonathan Goodluck's to bestride power, yesterday it was Obasanjo/Yar'adua and tomorrow it might be James Ibori who is calling the shots and directing the states armed enforcers; and the vicious circle continuously churns without ceasing. Acting President Jonathan Goodluck should show some maturity and magnanimity by letting James Ibori go through normal channels of prosecution as enshrined in the constitution; but not forced to go through a special vice, different from the rest of the other thirty-three former governors who were similarly, previously investigated and were said to be indictable? Icheoku queries why only Ibori out of the 33 former governors that were determined to have dipped their filthy hands in the pots of their states commonwealth funds, is being so hounded by the EFCC? Icheoku have nothing against the EFCC's enforcing the law on corruption and prosecuting whoever investigation turns up a being corrupt; or personally against the acting president, but all is fair that seems fair and just; hence we say that James Ibori is currently being persecuted with the manner he is being hounded by the EFCC on a direct orders from Aso Rock. It is not fair and hence unjust for James Ibori to be the only one being hounded just because he lost out in the power tussle at Aso Rock. But should acting President Jonathan Goodluck cash in on that to humiliate and possible jail Ibori; it is not a good course and the Lord Almighty will not take kindly to Jonathan to use oppression to glorify his name for the miracle of his present day position in Nigeria. According to the narrative, James Ibori is suspected of corrupt enrichment of self from the coffers of Delta State; but is he the only one of such former governors who couldn't resist the pile of carrots? Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida is similarly accused of embezzling $12 billion dollars Iraqi war oil windfall but no one in EFCC has ever considered inviting him for questioning, talk less of declaring him wanted? Yet Babangida has declared his intention to run for president in 2011 weighted down by the allegation as well as the most recent one of partaking in the $180 million dollars Halliburton bribery of some Nigerian leaders? Where is Madam Farida Waziri on this or is she telling the world that Babangida is untouchable or licensed to loot; while Ibori is not so privileged; and would be crushed being from the minority south-south? How about the other 32 former governors who the EFCC under Nuhu Ribadu accused of abusing their office by misusing their states financial resources? And please do not get us wrong as we do not carry water for James Ibori or any of the corrupt Nigerian politicians and their oil bunkering military counterparts who are holding Nigeria captive since independence. No, our interest is that James Ibori be prosecuted using due process and alongside others and not just singled out for who he is and because Acting President Jonathan Goodluck said so? The presidency or it acting capacity should not be used as instrument of vendetta or an avenue to cut pounds of flesh for whatever anyone including James Ibori may have done against the acting president when he was out of power as vice president? Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely and some day, Jonathan Goodluck will himself be out of power and may expect a soft landing if he extend same to others currently in need of it. The south-south is capable of being torn apart as a result of the fallout from this face-off between two of their illustrious sons with the masses on either sides seeing it as an affront on their own "illustrious" son by the other side's acting president? Could someone just tell Icheoku that the "wanted dead or alive" on James Ibori not personal and why should Mr. Acting President Jonathan Goodluck make the hunt for James Ibori a priority issue over the so many troubles facing the nation particularly energy? What is so urgent, affecting the national security that James Ibori should be declared wanted dead or alive as if he is Osama Bin Laden in President GW's tunnel vision? What is so terribly important in an alleged crime committed over three years ago that the acting president has to call up the Inspector General of Police Ogbonna Onovo and bark such orders; and allegedly banging the phone before reasonable response could be proffered by the IGP. The trouble with Nigeria is that supposed leaders are very fond of micro-managing every aspect of the society; otherwise what is Jonathan Goodluck's business pushing for James Ibori's arrest and "prosecution" when the Attorney General and the EFCC are there to do their jobs whenever crimes are committed? Mr Acting President Jonathan Goodluck, Icheoku calls on you to butt out of the present James Ibori's legal pursuit and let the law take its course; but as the leader of the nation you must not been seen to be victimising a citizen just because you have an axe to grind with him. If James Ibori committed a crime, let the law be the one determining that and calling out the hounds on him. We learn from history and you must not allow yourself to fall into the trap which had ensnared Olusegun Obasanjo and damaging him forever. Be a statesman and keep off. Be that as it may, Icheoku calls on James Ibori to surrender to the law and stop being fugitive on the run from justice? He should just turn up and hand himself in and let Nigerians bear witness to his persecution if that is what all these is all about. As a democrat who has benefited immensely from democracy, James Ibori should not be afraid of suffering some inconvenience of prosecution because of democracy that gave a Jonathan power over James; hoping that the innocent fears no accusation? Bode George is almost completing his prison sentence at Kirikiri and so James Ibori should not be afraid of being locked up if it boils down to that but lawyers are there to say wait a minute, what offenses were committed? But should James Ibori chose to continue skipping "justice," then many Nigerians will condemn his action as the guilt being afraid. As a solution to this constant abuse of powers by the executive, Icheoku would like to urge the national assembly to enact a legislation to water down executive powers of the president; just like they recently did in Pakistan. Such pruning of power will checkmate such an executive from such pettiness of getting personal at a person just in an attempt to settle old scores or force them to capitulate and become subservient. Icheoku takes a strong exception that Acting Jonathan Goodluck is not any different from the rest of other discredited past leaders who use the instrumentality of the state to go after their rivals in his going after James Ibori? With such a feud working itself to implosion, what becomes of the south-south alliance and their agitation for resource control since a house divided is bound to fall? The victors here as always will remain the Hausa-Fulani north, who must now be salivating that at last, the strong opposition of the oil producing Niger Delta is being weakened by the Jonathan/Ibori feud. Acting President Jonathan Goodluck should stop driving the mechanics of Madam Farida Waziri and cease instigating any actions of the EFCC regarding James Ibori; and if he must, then extend it to all those 33 other former governors who were investigated and implicated as corrupt. Also the Halliburton scandal which have unearthed some high-level Nigerians who are neck-deep in the bribery saga, but who nobody have touched or invited or declared wanted dead or alive is a sore sticking point for Jonathan to occupy himself? Then the Jubril Aminu implicated Siemens' $12 million dollars scandal which seems to have assumed room temperature; as well as other numerous scandals awashed in the land are still begging for attention; yet it is only James Ibori's alleged corruption that is in the burners as he is being hounded by the dogs of the state, led by the EFCC. Icheoku says, it is not just right; it is not just fair, it is totally unjust and does not paint the Acting President Jonathan Goodluck in a good light to be seen as a very vindictive and mean fella? But while running from justice may not be the best approach, Ibori's fear in going under the mattress may possibly be well founded in view of the acidic vituperation of his traducers who went to unimaginable steps in declaring him "wanted dead or alive?" What if James Ibori is murdered by the agents of the states acting on direct orders or a subliminal instruction that his death will not be investigated; agents who in turn will accuse him of resisting arrest or allegedly engaged in a shoot-out with the police? In Nigeria all things are possible and a former governor running for his life may know more than the ordinary Joe-Nigerian knows and sure that his life is really in danger, since we do not want to believe it is out of fear of some bodily inconvenience that he will be running away from? Icheoku advises James Ibori to turn himself in through a powerful lawyer in the mold of Femi Falana; or any of such ranked attorney and then take his chances that he will get a fair disposal of his case. In any event, Jonathan Goodluck will not remain in office forever and a person with some sympathetic ears may someday come in and release a detained James Ibori? So James Ibori, turn yourself in now and quit being a scofflaw; and as for Acting President Jonathan Goodluck, please do not abuse your office by hounding your rivals out of circulation.