The crucial element that has been missing in the fight against corruption in Nigeria is the absence of a high-profile conviction that will deter offenders from engaging in corrupt acts. And what better way is there to cross that threshold than sending one of the symbols of corruption in Nigeria in the 4th Republic, Orji Uzor Kalu, to prison.
With this conviction, which, hopefully, will be upheld by higher courts, you can now understand why those of us that voted for President Muhammadu Buhari, though disappointed with the lackluster start in the fight against corruption, are tickled. Though we are thrilled, we are also cautiously optimistic, conscious of the fact that tackling corruption in this present Nigeria is a tall order.
However, we are confident that the right steps can and should be taken to convict other high profile political elites like Bola Tinubu, Patience Jonathan, Olisa Metu, Femi Fani-Kayode, and co.
Before Orji Uzor Kalu joined the All Progressives Congress from the Peoples Democratic Party, he turned Abia State to a wasteland. He gave Abia State the worst governor in the fourth Republic in the person of Theodore Orji.
What is interesting in this case is that Orji Uzor Kalu claimed in a Facebook message that he joined the APC because “Buhari personally promised me that all the contractors in the South-East will return to sites before the end of November. I joined the APC because President Buhari has fulfilled the promise he made to me and we are hopeful he will do more.”
As a reward for joining the APC, President Buhari awarded several Federal Road contracts to his construction firm SLOK Holding. Also, the Niger Delta Development Commission recently awarded and funded SLOK Holdings to reconstruct the Umuahia-Uzuakoli Road as well as Uzuakoli-Ozuitem Road.
Unfortunately for Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, his court case with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission did not drag out forever as he expected. With this conviction, too, his 2023 APC Presidential ambition is now dead. With this conviction, too, Nigerian are expecting the light of the fight against corruption to be turned on in the dark alleys on all pending corruption cases against former and serving public officials.
Now that Kalu is going to prison, the likes of Tinubu, Patience Jonathan, Olisa Metu, Femi Fani-Kayode should be made to account for their stewardship in public office. Sending Senator Kalu to prison will also, hopefully, deter Buhari’s aides from engaging in corrupt acts.
With the conviction of Kalu, Nigerians are expecting and demanding for the recovery of the $1.1bn paid to the London account of Malabu Oil and Gas by Goodluck Jonathan. A court of competent jurisdiction recently ordered the final forfeiture of N9.2m and $8.4m belonging to Patience Jonathan, wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The question for EFCC is why did they not ask the judge to put her in jail for enriching herself through corrupt means?
Mrs. Jonathan had ridiculously claimed that the monies were proceeds of goodwill donations from Nigerians, which she enjoyed as wife of a deputy governor, governor, and president. What a joke.
It is also a big joke that the EFCC is not taking seriously the petition against Tinubu’s display of two cash-laden bullion vans on his premises on the eve of the 2019 Presidential election in February. Is EFCC afraid of investigating Tinubu for money laundering?
Also, the N4.6bn money laundering case preferred against Fani-Kayode, who was Director of Publicity to the Goodluck Jonathan Presidential Campaign Organisation in 2015 has been dragging on forever. Why are these high-profile cases still pending?
Our courts have been sending petty thieves to jail every day. So, it’s not a case of the judicial system. Rather, it is a case of corrupt judges, Attorney-General, and others bribed to stupor that they turn a blind eye.
With Senator Kalu’s conviction however, the corruption cases of former governors (now distinguished senators) that has been ongoing for “eternity” should be expedited and offenders convicted and jailed. Most importantly, the EFCC should be re-organised and re-engineered as a matter of urgency.
Finally, as Senator Kalu goes to prison, the cases against Femi Fani-Kayode, Patience Jonathan and Tinubu should be expedited. If convicted, they should be made to refund all monies accumulated through corrupt means and made to enjoy a couple of years in jail. That is the real first step to purge the Nigerian system of endemic corruption.