Wednesday, 26 February 2014
The Otedollar Show By Charles Ofoji
Let me first register my indignation over the carnage on the Plateau which claimed over 100 lives, including 2 legislators. Actually, it is only in a comic country that such number of people will be slaughtered and those in power still carry on with governance as if nothing happened. The butchery in Plateau is another pointer to the fact that law and order has broken down in Nigeria, whether we like it or not. Life now means nothing in our country if a serving senator could so easily be killed.
In a nation, properly so-called, the president would have quickly addressed the nation and declared days of national mourning. President Jonathan, as usual, ordered the security agencies to fish out Senator Dantong killers as if the others who died are lesser mortals. Nobody is expecting the killers to be found anyway. I fail to understand how officers would be milling around as state security operatives and would not be able to get a clue as to those behind the cycle of reprisal attacks in Plateau. If our military can’t stop a rampaging ragtag Fulani herdsmen from wiping out a village (ethnic cleansing), then of what use is the armed forces and all the billions of Naira spent in maintaining them.
In serious climes, if it means that all the Service Chiefs would relocate to Jos to ensure security of lives and property, it would be done. What are they even doing in Abuja?
In any case, the Lawan-Otedollar show took a humiliating dimension for the House committee on ethics and privileges last week Tuesday when oil Baron, Femi Otedola made a nonsense of its investigation in the Faroukgate as he refused to testify. A cool Otedola, who obviously was enjoying the show provided by the briber saga, “arrogantly” told the members of the committee that he was not going to testify in camera, but in public. All further entreaties made to the oil magnate at the centre of the corruption allegation against Lawan to change his stance was coolly and steely rebuffed. Thereupon, the committee Chairman, Gambo Dan-Musa descended on the arena and poured vituperations on the person of Otedola. He even called him a fool and an imbecile. This was an interesting piece in the ongoing Lawan-Otedollar opus.
As I said in an article last month, Farouk or Lawangate will surely go the way of other major scandals in the history of Nigerian democracy. I, like majority of Nigerians, do not seriously expect any result. However, beyond the conundrum of the Lawan-Otedollar soap opera lies the sadness that, after all, due to lawanic greed, the oil thieves, who stole over $6.8billion US dollars and made Nigerians to forfeit enjoyment of oil subsidy as citizens of a major oil producing nation, will ultimately go unpunished - never mind the ranting in some official quarters.
Sometimes, the intellect and judgment of those who are in charge of governance in this country amaze me. But then again, you remember that those in government were godfathered into positions. How could sane people think that they could rely on a report when the chairman of the house committee, who presided over the investigation and emergence of that report, is persuasively accused of having compromised the contents of the same report? Right thinking Nigerians expect the House to order a new investigation, instead of holding on to a report that is already dead when Lawan got messed up with a credible bribery allegation.
Nevertheless, I was bemused over the emotional reactions of Dan-Musa. He took the thing personal. I had expected a sentimental detachment from the work he has on his hands, which is to investigate a fellow colleague who is accused of vice. His outbursts are unbecoming of a man of his status and it is also disproportional. Like Otedola or hate him, he only demanded the enforcement of his right to testify only in public. He never said that he will not testify. And if Dan-Musa cares to know, Otedola’s fundamental human rights, entrenched in the constitution, override whatever investigative powers his embarrassed committee has. Yes, they embarrassed themselves. Before he could have subjected Lawan and Otedola to a hearing in camera, it would have been wise if he first sought and got their consent to such a hearing.
Nigeria is certainly a joke of a country. Why should the EFCC and police even wait for the House to investigate first the oil subsidy scam and the bribery scandal before it swooped into action? In USA for instance, when such crimes are committed, the FBI pounces on the culprits immediately, irrespective of what congress wants to do. The EFCC and police have enough powers to instigate these scandals and prosecute if need be.
I have also heard nonsensical talks that the police lack evidence to prosecute Lawan. Yes, it could have been easier if the security personnel, who witnessed the handing over of the dollars to Lawan, arrested him in the art. However, it might interest those propagating this view to know that you do not only secure a conviction with direct evidence. Circumstantial evidence suffices, if it irresistibly points to only one direction or conclusion.
Is it not a shaggy dog story that, in spite of the fact that Otedola has admitted he gave bribe and Lawan came clean that he took the money (not minding his cock and bull story as to why he took the money), the police can not compel him to surrender the money? I expect that Otedola will be arrested. At least, he confessed that he gave bribe. That he videoed the giving and invited some of his friends in the SSS to witness the act does not put official legitimacy to his action. Why did his friends in the SSS fail to arrest the culprit, if their assignment were official? Besides, the right authority to inform and work with for such operation is the police and not the SSS.
One does not need to consult an Ouija to know that both Lawan and Otedola are not telling the truth. Both criminally conspired to give and take bribe. And my senses tell me that Otedola rushed to the press when there was a break down somewhere. This can not be hard for the police to decode and send both men to where they deserve to be at the moment.
What is actually going on in this country? How could someone who committed a crime be again given the stage to make a show out of it? Is it because the president has publicly acknowledged that Otedola is his friend? – Even when he should actually have distanced himself from such a man under scrutiny.
The ongoing Otedollar soap opera is depraved mockery of the Nigerian state and an insult to the citizens who are eagerly waiting for the high and mighty to be subjected to the same law as the common criminal who steals N2000 and languishes in one state facility.
I expect the Inspector General of Police to do his job and spare us this offensive soap. I, like majority of Nigerians, demand that he puts Otedola is cuffs now to reassure us that we are not living in a banana republic.