• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

Long walk to prison

For a fraud case that lingered for 12 years in the court, and finally the defendants are convicted and jailed after over a decade of trial; it is really a long walk to prison.

It is no longer news that Orji Uzor Kalu, a former governor of Abia State and a serving senator, was jailed last week by a Federal High Court in Lagos presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris for  N7.65 billion fraud charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2007.

The news is that Kalu, who is the Senate Chief Whip of the 9th Assembly, has joined two former governors, Joshua Dariye (Plateau) and Jolly Nyame (Taraba), as an inmate in a correctional centre.

While Dariye and Nyame are serving in Abuja, Kalu was remanded at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre.

But considering the value of N7.65 billion when Kalu just left office as governor, that money would have built five good public schools, five standard hospitals, 10 kilometre-road in Aba, where he was born and lived; it would have paid pension and salary arrears, and reduce the suffering of Abia people, who were impoverished through his loots.

It is kudos to the judiciary for at least, standing firm in this epic battle, which many thought would have been influenced by ‘powers from above’ in favour of Kalu, who seemed anointed by the same powers that influenced his victory at the Abia North senatorial election this year.

While at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, Kalu will be full of regret and abandonment as those who stood behind him may have abandoned him, after all, they have fulfilled their part of helping him to win election into the Senate and even made him Chief Whip. Well, they have tried, but the former governor may be confused now and querying why he was allowed to bury his head in shame despite joining the ruling team.

He may also be asking if the party is no longer standing by its assurance of “if you join us, your sins are forgiven”, and why are his own sins not forgiven.

Ordinarily, Kalu’s sentence to jail should serve as a deterrent to other governors and public office holders, but it will not because their godfathers are still in government, while the anti-graft agency is turning blind eye on them for now.

Some are also stealing their states dry and hiding under party loyalty.

The justice system should be improved to fast-track trial for many who would be joining the three governors at the correctional centres across the country with the hope that they will steal no more when they are released, and most importantly, serving public office holders now know where to go after stealing from public coffers.

Ex- governors under probe or on trial are: Bukola Saraki (Kwara); Ali Modu Sheriff (Borno);  Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom);  Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu);  Saminu Turaki (Jigawa);  Sule Lamido (Jigawa); Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara), and Gabriel Suswam (Benue).

Others are:  Martin Elechi (Ebonyi);  Danjuma Goje (Gombe);  Ikedi Ohakim (Imo);  Peter Odili (Rivers);  Murtala Nyako (Adamawa);  Boni Haruna (Adamawa); Gbenga Daniel (Ogun);  Rashidi Ladoja (Oyo);  Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), and Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara). They also include Rochas Okorocha (Imo); James Bala Ngillari (Adamawa);  Akinwumi Ambode (Lagos), and  Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo).

Ex- governors already convicted are Lucky Igbinedion (Edo); James Ibori (Delta); Jolly Nyame (Taraba); Joshua Dariye (Plateau), and Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia). James bori was convicted in the United Kingdom, while Igbinedion was convicted under the Goodluck Jonathan administration.