Tuesday, December 18, 2007

After reading the more than 100 charges leveled against James Ibori, I am once again shocked at the depth of human greed that some of us are capable of. Ibori's supporters do not have to remind me that he is innocent until proven guilty. However, I must state that the evidence against him is overwhelming, and recent revelations of his criminal past in the UK, his connection to the Abacha regime and to the murders of certain Nigerians will make it hard for Ibori to ever clear his name in a court of law, talk less of the court of public opinion. Nevertheless, as a believer in the importance of the legal system, I wish Ibori the best.

Despite the excitement that this scandal has generated for many Nigerians, I cannot help but try to consider what is going to happen next. The EFCC has stepped into uncharted territory - Ibori is the biggest fish to have fallen into Nigeria's anti-corruption crusade. Will he go to jail? Will he be forced to return the allegedly stolen funds? When one considers the multitude of potential results, it becomes clear that the Ibori scandal is actually yet to begin. Therefore, I have simply tempered my expectations for this case and encourage others to do the same. Here is why...

Back to Ibori, I am happy that the Kaduna judge recognized that he was a flight risk and denied his application for bail. This, despite the huge protest that happened outside the court's walls and the many Ibori supporters who ripped their clothes off and rolled on the ground in protest. Nonetheless, I wonder if 'Chief' (or 'Thief' as many bloggers and pundits have taken to calling him) will truly face punishment for his alleged crimes. Why? Because, I believe that Ibori holds many secrets. There are Big Boys who do not want these secrets released to the public and will do whatever is necessary to prevent their dissemination. That could mean many things, but I rather focus on the possibility of Ibori striking a deal with the EFCC or possibly receiving a pardon. These things are possible. If Aondoakaa could write a letter on Ibori's behalf to British Courts, I would not be surprised if his oga ('boss'), Yardy, pardoned the man for the 'sake of the nation'. When it comes to Nigeria, anything is possible and Yardy must still serve the masters that feed him.

Despite my elation at witnessing Nigeria's anti-corruption crusade at work, I cannot help but feel sorry for the EFCC (the "Commission"). The Commission, from what I have heard, is understaffed and under-funded. How can it possibly fully achieve its mandate without the support it truly needs? Plus, there is the possibility that Ibori has more money than the EFCC has in their yearly budget. That money will allow him to hire many lawyers who simply have to implement various tactics that can stall the case for as long as possible. After all, that is what a good lawyer should do.

Additionally, Aondoakaa continues to aggravate the situation and has now even raised questions about the future existence of the Commission. He just announced that he plans to merge the EFCC and ICPC into one institution. That raises all sorts of issues for Nigeria's continued efforts at stemming corruption. Will a merger result in a new head of the newly created Commission? Will the funding be even less than what each Commission receives now, combined? How can the EFCC do the work it must do if its very future is in jeopardy?

The Ibori case is the perfect opportunity for Nigeria to prove that it is tough on crime. The legal system should be allowed to deal with this case with little to no intervention from Aondoakaa, Yar'Adua or their 'masters'. If that happens, this case will set the example for others who have stolen money or used their positions to enrich themselves and will make them willing to cooperate with authorities.

However, I am more interested in the precedent this sets for ordinary people on various levels. First, I hope that we all are learning that corruption on all levels is not just wrong, but that it will have negative consequences. Secondly, I hope that the government's cases against corrupt individuals will eventually allow ordinary people to sue, as individuals, their former governors and other representatives. For instance, the mother in Rivers State whose child died from tuberculosis because money earmarked to provide services went directly into the bank account of a public official. Some day, she should be able to sue the individual whose inaction or fraud caused the negligent death of her child. I cannot wait for the day that Nigerians, as individuals or as an affected class, can "Sue The Bastards" (as my old Torts professor used to say). Once that begins to happen, Nigerians will truly discover that politics is not just about brown paper bags filled with money, chieftancy titles or the like. Politics is and should be about public service, first and the perks are secondary.

So, I like others wait anxiously to see where the Ibori case will take the country, what Aondoakaa and his oga, Yar'Adua will do and how the Big Boys will scramble to hide their ill-gotten wealth and whether or not many will be forced to return money to the people. Best of luck to all sides of the upcoming debacle.

PS: Feel free to participate in the ongoing Ibori poll. It is located in the upper left corner of the blog page. If you are reading this via a reader, you might have to come here. I'd like to know your thoughts and oh, yeah...Merry Christmas and Barkah de Sallah! Oh, and for the Jews, Happy Hanukkah and for those celebrating it, Happy Kwanza!

16 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Kiibaati said...

In Nigeria, you can fairly predict the result of "quasi-political" cases, not because the Judiciary is weak but because in a our democracy, certain vested interests will exert their powers.

I expect Ibori will be convicted, but only after making a deal. Until that is done, expect a long and directionless trial ahead because, as you poited out, Ibori has more money (and friends)than EFCC.

(This is not a Nigerian problem oh; just read thet the South Afrrican ex-deputy prime minister, previously charges with rape and corruption, is now the leader of the ANC. In some climes, his political career will have ended with those charges but this is Africa. We dont discriminate :-) )

On the other hand, frankly, I think EFCC is overstretched as it is, with no clear mandate. They investigate everthing from exam malpractices, sexual harassment in campuses to pipeline vandalism and oil bunkering. Somewhere in between, they find time to collect personal debts and prosecute high profile embezzlement cases.Haba!

I think EFCC should focus on investicating prosecuting state and local government curruption, embezzlement and money laundering charges. ICPC should focus on such crimes at the federal government level, as well as when the cases concern the judiciary or legislature.

Other cases, should be handled by the Police,who by the way are still on the payroll but have done so little to justify their (yes, if you insist) "poor" pay.

Anonymous said...

We ran a piece on a mag that I work on about Nigeria combating the whole Siemens corruption situation. My colleagues were mightily impressed that Nigeria was actually taking action. "Finally!!", they said. I didn't know whether I should have been defensive towards that remark or agree with them.

And as for Ibori.....

Beauty said...

RETURN ILL GOTTEN WEALTH & RECEIVE PARDON was 20% in the poll on writing this comment. In the meanwhile, Dick Cheney's annual Christmas Barbecue has set fire to offices of bad management and daft budgeting on White House grounds. My point, the puppeteers that aid and control dirty money flows in Nigeria will not just sit aside while a small time law enforcement agency threaten their corrupt income stream. They will find creative ways to burn anyone in their way. Let us get our money back in exchange for immunity from prosecution. It is a game, learn the rules and win is a good way forward.

Unknown said...

Personally, I feel very sorry for those that are working at the EFCC...Imagine seeing the criminals, knowing that the participating in criminal acts but not being able to convict them because you are underfunded.

Johnny Ong said...

the ibori case/scenario is nothing new to me as it happens in malaysia too. the well-connected people tend to escape the law even though the well-connected people have clearly breached the law.

Jinta said...

The problem is not the funding of the efcc, it is the fact that the political inclination is not there to back them up.

Guess which option I chose in the poll?

Omodudu said...

In the poll I went straigh for the Jail term option...

lemonade factory said...

here's wishing u a merry xmas and a fufilled new year,hope u enjoy ur holidays merry xmas and thanks for visiting ma blog

NigeriaPolitricks.com said...

the wheel of justice is grinding too slowly. let justice be swift for the likes of Ibori and all corrupt politicians.

Sherri said...

def a step in the right direction
i hope justice will served.
have u heard about the iyabo bello bruhaha?

thanks for leading me here, really liking ur blog(u are serious o)
wishing u and urs a merry Christmas and a wonderful and prosperous 2008

btw, can i comment on some old issues?


@ Sherri: Oddly enough I was working on an Iyabo OBJ post when I decided to take a break and check an old post.

Thanks so much for stopping by and please, by all means leave comments on old (and new) posts.

Merry Xmas!

Ms. emmotions said...

merry xmas to u dude,

am so so excited about this ibori scandal or wat do i even call it? its such a novelty u know, but like u had said, ibori belongs to the bigger boyz club and as such has their full support, if this ibori guy has some major secrets wit him, the case am afraid might be bought( u know wat i mean), cases that are somehow linked to the big boyz has a way of 'going down' unceremoniously. EFCC we all know has a price, its only a matter of time b4 these guys finds out wat their price is, and guess wat? we wont even realize it wen it happens cause things will only die a natural death.
well, lets hope the legal system can still make things happen in this country.....

rethots said...

My fear... he'll get a pat on the back and, go sin (loot, not to be taken though) no more. He gets a great ovation on getting back home -alams.
Be that as it may, i strongly believe 'twilldefinitely be better. A lil' while.
Have a very pleasant christmas.

N.I.M.M.O said...

If Ibori goes to trial and gets six months jail term for each charge whether to run 'concurrently' or not. In addition to return even half of his loot, then the course of justice in Nigeria would have been served.

We may be expecting too much from the EFCC and our judicial system if we expect them to prosecute the anti-corruption war with so much success this early. It will take some time.

But small wins like they've had with Tafa Balogun and Alameseigha and now with Ibori will serve as symbolic milestones of what is possible in this war and finally label those rouges for what they really are: EX-CONVICTS!

But with Aondoaka in the house, I am afraid.


SET said...


Anonymous said...

Fools Gold... Truth & Justice will Prevail at Thief Ibori's Trials...

The insinuated public supports for Thief Ibori are stage managed by his fellow thieves who are afraid of sharing a Prison Cell with him.

Corruption na im spoil 9ja... True No Dey Lie... when you Steal from the People... you dey Steal from God. Time don reach for such folks to play the piper and dance to the tune of Change.

Fela say "Teacher no Teach me Nonsense"... na so our Corrupt Leaders go dey enact "Corrupt Legislations". Dem no fit teach man pickin wetin dem no sabi. When thief man na your Senator, or Councilor na thief laws im go fit create.

Thief Ibori can only act out what he is when he "chanced" us to be governor. Time na im hold most things... Oga abeg make you pay 4 wetin you Chop.

I continue my advocacy for continue writing on our corrupt practices so "Leaders" go understand say no be only dem sabi something.

For every support stage managed for these thieves we will respond in hundred fold to let them and the world of Good people know our plight and support our ultimate dismissal and imprisonment of these back stabbers.

Fred Bardy
Information Strategist & Mastermind

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