Magu at the Barricade of Abuja Pirates, By Louis Odion
The same can, however, not be said of a good many others, against whom the penal scale seems to weigh heavily. (To say nothing about other shadowy characters in the house: from failed contractors, to the practicing pedophile and the fugitive from American justice over narcotic substances.)
The introduction, lately, of the impeachment kite into the ongoing tussle between the executive and the legislative branches over the jugular of the EFCC – and potentially the soul of Nigeria’s still fragile democracy – has injected a new twist into what now clearly looks like the nation’s most cynical power play in recent memory.
Much as no one has confirmed it, no one has denied it either.
Impeachment, it must be stressed from the outset, is the civilian equivalent of pressing the nuclear button under extreme circumstance, in terms of unconventional military warfare.
As already pointed out by legal experts, merely contemplating the impeachment of an acting president in the absence of the substantive (and a technically non-existing vice president) over a disagreement no more than who has the final say over a public department, is rather unthinkable, if not lunatic. But it goes to depict the mortal danger increasingly posed to the national edifice by a Senate apparently overtaken by buccaneers.
Of course, were the impeachment gambit to be pursued any further, there is no prize for guessing who the beneficiary will ultimately be. Never in modern history has the instrument of a public institution been so openly abused and parlayed to the vigorous pursuit of a personal interest.
It would have been most farcical, were it not so tragic, that what is truly a desperate manoeuvre to shield an evil enterprise is being camouflaged elaborately before the nation today as a noble effort to preserve public health.
More and more, we are affronted by the monstrosity of those who should be described as disheveled inmates of a moral leprosarium pushing to sack their minder from the ether-smelling ward, with a view to breaking loose and imposing their own will on the entire community.
For starters, consider the latest in the litany of absurdities at the Red Chamber. Last week, on the day the Senate spoke loftily on the desirability of founding our democratic principles and processes on institutions as against mortals, it yet lent itself zealously to open subversion of the authority of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Abuja court would not oblige embattled Senator Dino Melaye a restraining order against the recall process initiated by his constituents in Kogi West. But never mind, the confraternity at the Red Chamber would improvise an escape route for a comrade ensnared.
…President Buhari’s gross failing as a leader apparently incapable of reining in the mischief and insolence of subordinates…was soon inadvertently exposed when that same unrelenting cabal opted to waylay his nominee at the Senate gate…
In clear contempt of the electorate in Kogi West and utter spite of the nation at large, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, while presiding over the plenary, declared point blank that the recall process commenced by INEC would, as long as he and company continue to hold sway, end up an exercise in futility. So, the wishes of the people of Kogi West no longer matter! And INEC would be castrated.
No less self-serving is the argument so far marshaled by the Senate against the continued stay of Ibrahim Magu as EFCC boss, the basis on which the senators now threaten hell and Armageddon, not minding if the nation’s democratic space was shut down in entirety.
But while arrogating to themselves powers the constitution does not grant them and seeking to sit in judgement over others in an holier-than-thou posture, the supreme irony is that a staggering number of the lawmakers are themselves nothing but pygmies and lepers in moral standing.
With their individual closet literally bursting at the seams with assorted skeletons, little wonder then that many are in morbid fear of Magu. We shall return to this presently.
Twice, the EFCC boss has been nominated for confirmation by the Senate; twice he has been denied clearance on the strength of a security report from the Department of State Security now understood to have been written more out of malice and vendetta than a desire to render public service.
It is now an open secret that a cartel of powerful operators in the presidency, as well as the powers-that-be at the DSS had their own candidate when the vacancy first opened at EFCC in 2015.
President Buhari is believed to have over-ruled that partnership by settling for Magu who over the years had built a reputation for ruthless independence of mind as far as the anti-graft battle is concerned.
But President Buhari’s gross failing as a leader apparently incapable of reining in the mischief and insolence of subordinates – the hyenas and the jackals (apologies, Mrs. Aisha Buhari) – was soon inadvertently exposed when that same unrelenting cabal opted to waylay his nominee at the Senate gate with a rather salacious “security report” accusing Magu of countless iniquities, including a champagne lifestyle, drug abuse and cavorting with graft suspects.
This apparent personal inadequacy on the part of PMB is what was invariably dramatised on the two occasions the conspiring and conniving lawmakers had waved the “security report” as the smoking gun against Magu at the Senate chamber. Today, historians will certainly have to scour the epochs all over and scratch their own heads real hard to remember any appointee who has ever been so patently subversive, so openly defiant of the commander-in-chief.
Regardless, Magu has consistently and stoutly denied all these allegations in public court. But that is beside the point. Much more telling is that at no point was the accused offered an opportunity to defend himself before the authors of the “security report” filed their memo. Nor has the Senate been fair enough to afford Magu a chance to also defend himself consistent with the universal principle of fair hearing or respect for his right and dignity as human being as dictated by natural law.
…Ms. Stella Oduah and Peter Nwaoboshi…already have their multi-billion naira asset seized by the anti-graft agency over alleged shady dealings. Sadly, these same characters are today among those barricading the Abuja highway against Magu, invoking the spirit of probity and decency in vain.
Beyond the municipal law which expressly guarantees the right of reply, Nigeria as a nation and member of the international community is also a signatory to the universal protocols which emphasise the right to fair hearing as a manifest and inalienable right of the human person. But beyond the fine prints of municipal and international laws, it is too obvious the continued fierce opposition to Magu at the Red Chamber is more for self-preservation.
For now, Senate President Bukola Saraki can breath easy, having been acquitted of sundry misdemeanours by the Code of Conduct Bureau after a titanic trial.
The same can, however, not be said of a good many others, against whom the penal scale seems to weigh heavily. (To say nothing about other shadowy characters in the house: from failed contractors, to the practicing pedophile and the fugitive from American justice over narcotic substances.) For instance, Danjuma Goje, erstwhile Gombe governor, still divides his waking hours between attending Senate sessions and making court appearances over a 18-count charge of conspiracy and fraud to the tune of N25 billion preferred against him by EFCC.
Beside the distinction of jumping bail abroad and therefore qualifying to be called an international fugitive, Joshua Dariye has been standing trial since 2007 on a 23-count charge of money laundering, abuse of office and specifically pocketing N1.2 billion ecological fund while governor of Plateau State.
Farmer Abdullahi Adamu of Nasarawa State is also being prosecuted by the EFCC on a 149-count charge of a N15 billion fraud allegedly perpetrated while he was Nasarawa governor. So far, his platoon of lawyers are busy assisting him explore all the tricks in the book to stall proceedings by challenging the competence of the charge and the jurisdiction of court before the Court of Appeal, Makurdi.
Further down the aisle is Abdulaziz Nyako, son of a former governor of Adamawa Sate, Murtala Nyako, who made history by being arraigned alongside his father by the EFCC over allegedly siphoning N15 billion through various phantom companies between 2011 and 2013.
Not to forget Ahmed Sani Yerima, who gave Zamfara State Sharia in 1999 but ironically ended up being docked after office in 2007 on a 19-count corruption charge by the ICPC, including diverting part of the N1 billion meant for the repair of Gusau dam.
Meanwhile, Godswill Akpabio, the immediate past Akwa Ibom governor, is currently under investigation for an alleged “uncommon” heist. While Ms. Stella Oduah and Peter Nwaoboshi, representing Anambra and Delta States respectively, already have their multi-billion naira asset seized by the anti-graft agency over alleged shady dealings. Sadly, these same characters are today among those barricading the Abuja highway against Magu, invoking the spirit of probity and decency in vain.
Enter Keyamo, SAN
It is a honour well deserved.
In his characterisation of the good lawyer, iconic Sapara William described him/her as one devoted to the protection and direction of his/her people. The words of Nigeria’s first solicitor in history were uttered in the 19th century. He could have been speaking of Festus Keyamo, the people’s lawyer, recently admitted into the elite echelon of the Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
It is a honour well deserved.
Brilliant, eloquent and courageous, Festus’ professional trajectory over the years has been a profile in dedication to the common good; deploying law as a tool for social justice for the most vulnerable in the society, a platform to speak truth to power, wrestle with entrenched interests.
At huge personal risk, he rallied and led “a million man march” against Abacha on Lagos streets in 1998 to counter Daniel Kanu’s rented YEAA (Youth Earnestly Ask for Abacha) rooting for the dictator’s transmutation to civilian president at a time when the price for dissent in Nigeria was in bullets and bombs.
On a personal note, Festus and I met and began our careers in law and journalism respectively in Lagos twenty-five years ago and have over the years grown from being friends to brothers. He has proved a fiercely loyal friend, in good times and in bad times. The kind of friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Big congrats, my brother.
Louis Odion is a Fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors (FNGE).