The recent indictment of the “super cop” DCP Abba Kyari by a district court in the United States of America, in a $1.1m fraud case involving Ramon Abbas popularly known as “Hushpuppi”, has again raised questions about the seriousness of the Nigerian government with the fight against corruption. It clearly depicts the level of rot in our system.
A former Commander of the dreaded Inspector-General of Police, IGP-Intelligence Response Team, (IRT), Kyari before his downfall was celebrated locally and internationally as a crime buster, fearless and honest policeman. But today, he is facing investigations over same issue he had been fighting against in the last 20 years.
Before Kyari’s case, another “super cop”, Ibrahim Magu former Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was made to equally face almost a similar case. And like Kyari, he was suspended from office and a probe panel set up to investigate the matter. But that is as far as Nigerians know.
Regrettably, each time corruption allegation is made against any public official, rather than examine it objectively; it is interpreted to be tribal, religious or political witch hunting or simply pushed off as “corruption fighting back”. This parochial mindset is one of the reasons we have not been able to successfully eradicate this monster called corruption, which has eaten deep into our national fabric.
Given the present government’s obvious lack luster attitude to fighting corruption it won’t be out of place to say that nothing concrete would come out of the Abba Kyari scandal. Already, statements by key government officials are pointing to the direction the case would go.
Sadly, but not surprising, that has been the pattern with most of the corruption cases in the country. At the last count, over 15 of such cases involving top government and security officials are pending with no tangible results.
For instance, till date, Nigerians are still waiting to know what happened to the report on the US$43 million discovered in an apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos same way they would want to know what happened to the allegation of award of US$25 billion contracts without following due process made against Dr. Maikanti Kacalla Baru, the former Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, former Minister of State, Petroleum Resources.
Indeed, Nigerians would be interested to know what happened to the Department of State Services (DSS) indictment for corruption of Ibrahim Magu, the former Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the outcome of the Justice Ayo Salami led probe Panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari weeks after the panel submitted its report.
We also need to be told who is the owner of LEGICO Shopping Plaza, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos inside which the EFCC claimed it found US$448.8 Million cash, and who brought the Five Sacks in which the same Commission claimed it found NGN49 Million cash being taken to the Kaduna Airport for delivery to an unnamed VIP in Abuja.
What happened to the Probe Panel on the alleged NGN500 Million bribery said to have been paid to the late Chief of Staff (COS) to president Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari by telecommunication giant MTN?
These are not all. We vividly recall the following outstanding issues: The N255m bulletproof car scandal in the aviation ministry which indicted the then Minister, Stella Oduah; the missing NNPC’s $20bn crude oil sales; the daily stealing of an estimated 100 barrels of crude oil per day as well as the Mohammed Abacha’s N446bn case, amongst others. Is the federal government going to use the All Progressives Congress (APC) broom to sweep the report on these and many others under the carpet as they did to others?
Government is good in publicizing the names of corrupt individuals instead of punishing them. Even the anti-graft agencies have been unable to prosecute a good number of top public officials. This is the main deterrence to campaign against corrupt practices in Nigeria. It demonstrates that there are exceptions or untouchables among the citizens. Little wonder that Nigeria has consistently occupied the most corrupt position among all countries in the global arena.
Suffice it to say that government’s failure to diligently and expeditiously prosecute high profile corruption cases amounts to a fundamental breach of constitutional and international obligations. Continuing failure to prosecute these cases has created the perception of a deliberate effort to protect those considered to be very influential and powerful in society
To change this narrative, government must initiate immediate steps to expeditiously, diligently, effectively and fairly prosecute all high-profile corruption cases, and publish details of the whereabouts of allegedly missing case files, as well as the status of prosecution of all the cases being handled by various anti-corruption agencies.
Apart from the cases cited above, other high-profile corruption cases include the 103 cases reportedly sent by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] in 2017, and the 15 allegedly missing case files sent by the now defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, [SPIP] in 2019 to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.
Lastly, government must show to Nigerians and the world that indeed, nobody is above the law in this country.