In this report, AHURAKA YUSUF ISAH writes that out of the 51 persons that governed the 36 states of the country from 1999 to 2007, six were impeached, only a handful have never been questioned by the nation’s anti-graft agencies.
Since the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was created in 2002 and re-enacted in 2004 to investigate financial crimes such as advance fee fraud (419 fraud) and money laundering, a number of governors that finished from office either at the end of their first term, second term or were impeached have been invited or arraigned before the courts to answer one corruption charge or the other.
By the time they completed their first and second tenures in office in 2003 and 2007 respectively, the anti-graft agency began to dock Joshua Dariye (Plateau), Jolly Nyame (Taraba), Abubakar Audu (Kogi), Saminu Turaki (Jigawa), Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia), Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu), James Ibori ( Delta) and Lucky Igbinedion ( Edo), beginning with Diepreye Alamieyeseigha (Bayelsa) in 2005.
Subsequently, Boni Haruna (Adamawa), Rasheed Ladoja (Oyo) and Michael Botmang (Plateau),, Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto), Ahmed Sani (Zamfara), Peter Odili (Rivers), Adamu Abdullahi (Nasarawa), Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano), Danjuma Goje (Gombe), Ikedi Ohakim (Imo), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Gabriel Suswam (Benue), Martin Elechi (Ebonyi), Obong Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom), Gbenga Daniel (Ogun), Jolly Nyame (Taraba), Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo) followed.
Former governors that are guests or were marked down for prosecution by other anti-graft agencies like Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), include Senator Bukola Saraki, Senator Bola Tinubu and Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan (as the then Governor of Bayelsa state).
This followed the resolve of the Joint Task Force empanelled by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in June 2006 comprising of ICPC, EFCC, CCB, the Department of State Services (DSS), and the Nigerian Police headed by Ribadu which named 15 former governors found to have breached the code of conduct for public officials and recommended them for prosecution in line with the Code of Conduct Bureau Act.
Those listed are James Ibori (Delta), Lucky Igbinedion (Edo), Ayo Fayose (Ekiti), Boni Haruna (Adamawa) Olugbenga Justus Daniel (Ogun), Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun), Adamu Aliero (Kebbi), Atahiru Bafarawa( Sokoto) Ibrahim Saminu Turaki (Jigawa), Ahmad Makarfi (Kaduna), Goodluck Jonathan (Bayelsa), Chimaroke Nnamani ( Enugu), Achike Udenwa ( Imo), Sam Egwu ( Ebonyi) And Bola Tinubu (Lagos)
The part of the report (EXCERPT Number 11) concerning Ex-President Jonathan (who was then Governor of Bayelsa State) listed “False Declaration of Assets’’ as ground of his prosecution; saying “Lexus Jeep worth N18 million claimed to have been acquired through savings in 2004. Verification reveals that the Jeep was a gift collected in contravention of the CCB Act of 1990. Same for BMW 7351 Series bought in 2005 worth N5.5 million”.
Others are “acquisition of properties outside legitimate income; Seven Bedroom Duplex acquired in 2001 worth N18 million at Otuke Ogbia LGA, Four Bedroom Duplex acquired in 2003 worth N15 million at Goodluck Jonathan Street, Yenegoa; Five Bedroom Duplex – acquired in 2003 worth N25 million at Citec Villas, Gwarimpa II – Abuja’’.
In overall, that Task Force found out that “some public officers had declared Assets far above what they owned as their declaration could not be substantiated. A case of anticipatory declaration, while some did not declare some of the properties they acquired while in office”.
According to the report, which from all indications was not acted upon or was partially acted upon by Obasanjo, ‘’the issue of ownership of foreign account and late declaration was treated with levity. The consequences of the above is that so far 15 State Governors were found to have individually contravened some of the Provisions of Part I to the 5th Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended , especially on the issue of false declaration of Assets and or acquisition of properties outside legitimate means.
Meanwhile, CCT chaired by Mr Danladi Umar had on November 30, 2011 dismissed the three-count charge brought by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). The then National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) who was singled out from the Task Force list of the former governors said to have violated their oath office or allegedly operating foreign accounts while in office was set free on the grounds that the charge brought against him constituted an abuse of court process, judging by the manner the prosecution withdrew it and filed an amended charge. This, Umar, robbed the tribunal of jurisdiction
The Tribunal arrived at the decision after upholding Tinubu’s preliminary objection as argued by his lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and nine other SANs including current Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo (SAN).
Others are former NBA President Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), Charles Edosomwan (SAN), Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), Dele Belgore (SAN), Kabiru Turaki (SAN), Emeka Ngige (SAN), Deji Sasegbon (SAN), Dele Adesina (SAN), Mrs. Jumoke Anifowoshe and Dr. Tunji Abayomi.
There are also Mr. Femi Falana, Alh. Lai Mohammed,Tunde Braimoh, Muiz Banire, Oye Akintola, Funso Olukoga, E. Okara, Dapo Akin Osun, M. I Komolafe, Toke Benson Awoyinka, Sola Iji, Onuora,Yakubu Gana Haruna,Lanre Obadina, Bimpe Awogbomogun, R.O Oloyede, T.C Okafor, Aisha Ali, Abdulmajid Oniyangi, Samuel Abba, Gbenga Adeyemi, Soli Olowalafe, Joshua Alogbu and Uche Onyeagocha.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja has recently ordered Saraki to return to CCT that earlier discharged and acquitted him of 18-count charges bordering on false asset declaration brought against him by the Federal Government, saying he has case to answer on 3-count charge only.
Six state governors were impeached since 1999 till date. Ordinarily, security operatives ought to investigate those impeached and get them convicted which has not been the case. Among those impeached are Ayo Fayose (Ekiti) on October 16, 2006 for mismanagement of fund and serial killings, Peter Obi (Anambra) on March 17, 2006 for misconduct but later upturned by the Supreme Court.
Joshua Dariye (Plateau) impeached on November 13, 2006 for alleged siphoning of public funds and money laundering in London, Rashidi Ladoja (Oyo) on January 12, 2006, late Dieypreye Alamieyesigha (Bayelsa) impeached on December 9, 2005 for theft of public fund and money laundering in London; and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) impeached in July 2014 for corruption and theft of public funds. But curiously, they are all EFCC candidates. It’s expected that the arraignment of Fayose will continue after he serve out his governorship term.
At a Thursday September 28, 2006 plenary session of the Senate, Nuhu Ribadu, then EFCC Chairman appeared to answer questions on why the agency had failed to submit the annual report of its activities to the Senate as stipulated by the act establishing it. To reserve the long story for another day’s discourse, Ribadu disclosed to senate presided over by Ken Nnamani, then Senate President that 31 of Nigeria’s 36 state governors were under investigation for corruption by the commission, and that prima facie evidence for 23 of them had been established. Mrs Farida Waziri who was sworn in on June 6, 2008 to succeed Ribadu after Ibrahim Lamorde acted for a while (in between) declared case files on alleged corrupt Governors missing.
Ribadu did not let it pass without listing the Commission’s achievements in the implementation of its preventive and prosecution mandate to include 4,324 petitions received, 2,103 cases under investigation, 306 cases under prosecution, more than 2,000 arrests made, properties recovered – several houses, land, luxury cars, airplanes, and oil tankers, value of assets and cash recovered worth $5 billion (US Dollars) with 88 number of convictions in the courts.
By virtue of his report, only then Cross Rivers state Governor Donald Duke’s “camel ably passed through eye of the needle’’; he was the only one with corruption clean bill of health. Though Ribadu did not name the 31 governors, but gave a goring picture of Abia and Zamfara states.
On Abia State, he said: “Abia is number one not because it is number one alphabetically but because we have one of the biggest established cases of stealing, money laundering, diversion of funds against Governor Kalu. Three generations of Kalu’s family are involved in the looting of the state’s funds to establish multi-national companies in aviation, pharmaceuticals, shipping and publishing. Continuing; Governor used his mother, daughter, aides, himself, wife and brothers to divert N35 billion to build his business empire including Slok Airlines, Slok Pharmaceuticals, and a newspaper house.
Zamfara State is the worst hit, I tell you. The governor there is carrying out what we call direct stealing. He even went to the British Parliament to say that EFCC was persecuting him because he wants to be president of Nigeria.” It is regrettable that instead of being sorry for his criminal acts, Governor Yerima Sani believes that blackmail will save him. Yet, this is the man who is cutting peoples’ hands in his state for committing minor offences”.
Ribadu who failed to name the 31 governors under investigation for corruption said that petitions had not been received on five states, three of which he named as Cross River, Kogi and Gombe. But subsequent reports do not place former Governors Ibrahim Idris and Danjuma Goje of Kogi and Gombe states respectively on the same page with Donald Duke.
But to fish out more saints among former state governors, we may have to beam searchlight on subsequent record of arrests, arraignment or attempted arrests or arraignment of former governors; and even those who have never been mentioned at all in the watch lists of either the EFCC, ICPC or CCB/CCT.
Between 1999 and 2007, there are 51 governors that governed the 36 states of Nigeria, besides the retinue of administrators and acting governors that presided at various times when some state governors were impeached, or when state of emergencies were declared by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo in some states during the period under consideration.
Coming back to the point, these are the corruption health status of the following former governors, besides the ones mentioned above”
Senator George Akume : He was Benue State Governor from 1999 to 2007. In Ribadu’s September 28, 2006 report at the senate plenary, he alleged that Akume barged into the office of the State’s Commissioner of Police, beat up EFCC operatives and confiscated documents relating to his investigations for corruption. However, Akume’s case file with the EFCC shows that the petition against him was filed by Abubakar Tsav, retired police commissioner, on July 20, 2006. The case was investigated for a long time during Akume’s tenure with the commission inviting several officials of his administration to Abuja. The state government actually went to court seeking a declaration that the EFCC was an illegal body, but the case made no headway. Perhaps, for want of evidence or otherwise, he has never been arraigned by any anti-graft agencies.
Senator Ahmed Makarfi: Another interesting case is that of Makarfi, former governor of Kaduna State from 1999 to 2007 and later a senator and the immediate past chairman of the PDP, who had several petitions against him, many of them filed by one Mohammed Bashir Saidu. Makarfi is accused of money laundering in the purchase of tractors, buses and rural electrification projects, diversion of public funds and abuse of office. Several billions of naira was allegedly involved. But, neither EFCC, ICPC nor the CCB has arraigned him.
Adamu Mu’azu: Apart from the crisis that rocked the PDP leading to his sudden “disappearance” after the party lost the 2015 general elections, its former National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, has a pending case with the EFCC. His case borders on the alleged mismanagement of N19.8 billion when he was governor of Bauchi State between 1999 and 2007. The accusation followed a petition to the EFCC, which prompted the agency to invite the former governor to appear before it in July 2008. But rather than honour the invitation, Mu’azu travelled to Britain on the premise that he was attending the graduation of his daughter, returning to the country two years later, after Goodluck Jonathan became president. Even then, the EFCC reaffirmed that Mu’azu still has a case to answer. Muazu was also mentioned to allegedly own the Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos where the humongous $43.4m, N23.2m, £27,800 cash was discovered by the EFCC in April last year.
Adamu Aliero: He was the Governor of Kebbi State between May 1999 and May 2007. Between December 2006 and August 2008, the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission received three petitions asking the anti-graft agencies to investigate Alierio over N10.2bn fraud. It was, however, learnt that the allegations were not investigated.
But following an ex-parte application by an indigene of the state, Alhaji Sani Dododo, for an order of mandamus compelling EFCC and ICPC to investigate the allegations, Justice Adamu Bello summoned Aliero to appear before it. The judge also summoned the two anti-graft agencies to explain why they failed in their statutory duties to investigate Aliero for alleged fraud. However, he is yet to stand trial for any corruption charges.
Dr Chris Ngige. He was a governor of Anambra state from 29 May 2003 to 17 March 2006. He has never been arraigned but his girlfriend, Princess Uzor Okonkwo who was picked up in July 2006 by the EFCC was said to have implicated the former governor.
Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun, 2003 -November 26, 2010). He was indicted for the alleged N2.5 billion fraud discovered Bureau of Computer Service and Information Technology, under him in the report of the investigating team set up by the Osun state government of Rauf Aregbesola. State made a copy of the white paper on the alleged fraud to EFCC. There is no record that the commission ever acted on the white paper.
Ali Modu Sheriff (Borno, 1999 – 2007). EFCC said in February 2016 that Sheriff, is still under investigation for alleged corruption. Sheriff was arrested and detained by the commission from June 3 to June 4, 2015 and released on administrative bail. His government was said to have received over N300bn from the Federation Account between 2003 and 2011, an amount alleged to have been mismanaged by Sheriff. Sheriff has never been charged to court for alleged embezzlement of public funds during his eight years as governor of Borno State, and nothing has ever been heard of this matter.
Governor Donald Duke; Governor of Cross River State from 1999 to 2007was singled out as passing the EFCC anti-corruption test so far.
Late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua; He was Katsina state governor from 1999 to 2007 before been voted President of Nigeria was unarguably clean too. He was the first and the last President to have made his asset declaration form public in the country.
Equally with a corruption clean bill of health include the late Engineer Abdukadir Kure (Niger, 1999 – 2007); Governor Bisi Akande (Osun, 1999-2003), Segun Osoba (Ogun, 1999 – 2003); Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe, 1999 to 2007); Governor Abubakar Habu Hashidu (Gombe, 1999 to 2003);), late Adebayo Adefarati (Ondo, 1999-2003); Olusegun Agagu (Ondo, 2003-February 2009). Ibrahim Idris (Kogi, 2003 – 2012), who boasted that both EFCC and ICPC are in his pocket is now under intense investigation by the current state governor, Yahaya Bello. He cannot easily be adjudged clean until after the outcome of the investigation.
Obong Victor Attah: Governor of Akwa Ibom State from 1999 to 2007, was on July 14, 2010 grilled for over 7 hours at EFCC Abuja office over a $300 million erstwhile V-mobile share sales deal involving the Akwa Ibom Investment and Industrial Promotion Council (AKIIPOC), and African Development Funds Incorporated (ADFI), the agency that handled the deal. The state was ripped-off that sum which was allegedly laundered through 22 different companies coordinated by African Development Funds Incorporated (ADFI). Attah have never been arraigned.
Corruption status of state governors that held sway especially between 2007 and 2015 cannot easily be determined because the overall head that usually gives life to anti-graft agencies were circumspect, not determined or rather without the political will to carry out the fight within that period. It is only those whose tenure began in 2003 that formed part of the discussion so far.
When Obasanjo set up the Joint Presidential Task Force, it was situated in a separate office from the EFCC corporate headquarters; and charged it to throw a searchlight on politically indicted persons and verify their assets and finances. Ibrahim Magu was its direct coordinator. This task force unit handled the bulk of the investigations of former governors. It would be recalled that it was to the task force offices in Asokoro, Abuja, which many of the former governors reported to when they were invited by the EFCC after their tenure expired in May 2007.
The regime that took over from Obasanjo surreptitiously removed Ribadu from EFCC, first transferred out Magu, levied trump up charges against him including missing files on ex-governors; with Magu’s residences in Lagos and Abuja raided ostensibly in search of some vital missing files. However, none of the files on the ex-governors was found in his houses. Even then, he was arrested and detained for 17 days before he was placed on suspension by the Nigeria Police Force. Many of the commission’s operatives who investigated the governors and standing as witnesses in the courts were transferred out. Since then, the system of keeping track of the serving governors were lost. Besides, 22 of those governors and deputy governors Magu investigated those days are in the Senate now. How does he then get confirmation from the senate? Only times shall tell.