BusinessDay
Nigeria's leading finance and market intelligence news report.

Police case (the case for international police)

Throughout his tenure as the 45th president of the United States of America, Donald Trump made no secret of his resentment and repudiation of the role of international policeman of the world – Afghanistan; Syria; Iraq; etc which was being foisted on America.

Consequently, it was a huge surprise when Trump’s Secretary of State (and former Director of the CIA) in an unguarded moment succumbed to candour:

“When I was the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency [C I A] under President Donald Trump, we lied; we cheated; and we stole. Being the greatest country on Earth is not just about our incredible economy and our strong military. It’s about the values we project out into the world. I believe in America and American goodness.”

This quotation is from Michael Pembroke’s book:

“America In Retreat: The Decline Of US Leadership From WW2 to COVID-19”.

Ironically, Professor Joan Robinson of Cambridge University seemed to suggest (when she appeared on CNN) that the police are not our problem. Rather, it is economists:

“The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economics questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.”

However, Albert Einstein (1879 to 1955) insists:

“The value of a man (or woman) should be seen in what he (or she) gives and not what he (or she) is able to receive.”

Regardless, The “Nigerian Tribune” newspaper of January 4, 2021 on its front page invited Interpol to wade into the following scandal:

“Probe missing N3.8 billion in health ministry, NAFDAC, others, SERAP tells Buhari”

“The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe allegations that ₦3,836,685,213.13 of public funds meant for the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, and National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) are missing, mismanaged, diverted or stolen.”

SERAP in a statement issued yesterday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, called on President Buhari to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to commence an investigation into the alleged stolen funds.

According to the organisation, the allegations are documented in Part 1 of the 2018 audited report released last week by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.

The group also wants the president to promptly investigate the extent and patterns of widespread corruption in the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, neuro-psychiatric hospitals, National Health Insurance Scheme, and NAFDAC indicted in the audited report, and to clean up an apparently entrenched system of corruption in the health sector.

It said corruption in the health sector can cause serious harm to individuals and society, especially the most vulnerable sectors of the population, adding that these missing funds could have been used to provide access to quality healthcare for Nigerians and meet the requirements of the National Health Act, especially at a time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter, also copied to Malami, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and the Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, read in part: “The Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja spent without approval ₦13,910,000.00 to organise a two-day training and bilateral discussion with Chief Medical Directors and Chairmen Medical Advisory Council and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to prepare 2019 Personnel Budget. ₦4,860,000.00 was originally budgeted for the programme.

“The National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) paid ₦48,885,845.00 for services not rendered and goods not supplied. According to the Auditor-General, NAFDAC used fake and fictitious receipts for these payments. NAFDAC also paid ₦25,734,018.49 to companies/firms who were never awarded any contracts and never executed them.”

As for “Nigerian Tribune” newspaper, December 1, 2020on its front page it recommended yet another candidate for investigation by Interpol.

Headline: “FIFA’S hammer on Ahmad Ahmad”

“Wracked by perennial maladministration and thrown out of sync by the Covid-19 pandemic, last week’s guilty verdict on Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Ahmad Ahmad by the adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee of FIFA, football’s international governing body, is exactly the kind of news that a beleaguered African football could do without. Concluding a saga which began in June 2019 when the Madagascar-born Ahmad was arrested and questioned in Paris by French authorities in connection with his involvement in CAF’s dealings with the sports equipment company Tactical Steel, the Committee found Mr. Ahmad in breach of articles 15, 20, 25, and 28 of the FIFA Code of Ethics. The articles deal with “Duty of loyalty,” “Offering and accepting gifts or other benefits,” “Abuse of position,” and “Misappropriation of funds” respectively.

The guilty verdict means that Mr. Ahmad, who is also a Vice-President of FIFA and onetime ally of its president Gianni Infantino, is banned from all football-related activities at both national and international levels for five years, which effectively rules him out of contention for CAF’s next presidential elections in March 2021. In addition, Mr. Ahmad is expected to pay a fine of $200, 000. Mr. Ahmad, through his lawyers, has rejected the guilty verdict and filed an appeal with the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Mr. Ahmad is claiming, among other things, that the verdict “was not rendered in a fair and impartial manner,” that he, Mr. Ahmad, was “notably refused the right to examine some of his witnesses during a hearing conducted at the prosecution’s double pace,” that the hearing “was not held according to the expected and usual standards,” and finally, that information “which is supposed to be strictly confidential” was leaked to the press, thus “preventing, in fact, a serene investigation from taking place.”

Mr. Ahmad is well within his rights to appeal the Ethics Committee’s decision and request a stay of execution. In particular, his legal team’s allegation that FIFA “hastened to issue an urgent and immediately enforceable decision, without providing the grounds of the sentence, despite its seriousness,” should be carefully considered. That said, the evidentiary weight appears to tilt against Mr. Ahmad, and as a matter of fact,if the full report of the Ethics Committee confirms anything, it is that he is not a lone wolf in CAF. Disturbingly, the report hints at “potential elements of mismanagement and possible abuse of power… in key areas of finance and operations,” and as we speak, CAF’s senior vice president, Congolese Constant Omari, is facing his own ethics investigation in connection with a television deal apparently constructed to favour the confederation’s broadcast partners.

For football lovers in Africa and worldwide, the real agony from Mr. Ahmad’s saga is that it confirms fears that the heart of the beautiful game is being increasingly ripped out by greed and venality. For example, since 2015, five of FIFA’s six global confederations have had to replace leaders accused of ethical violations. The irony here is that, worldwide, and particularly in Africa, many in fact turn to football and other sports as an escape from the corruption that they see everywhere else. Part of the beauty of football is its inherent meritocracy and democratic transparency. CAF and national football authorities have a duty to keep it that way.”

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