To hate Ibori and love Ribadu is hypocrisy

By Editor on 27/12/2016

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You could notice the anger. It is so hot and seething, the type that could cook yam in minutes, as they say. Why such extreme sentiment? They say people are rejoicing over the release of Chief James Ibori. They say those rejoicing ought not. Instead, they should wait with buckets of excreta and splash it on him as would water from a fountain, immediately he steps out of jail, "for the disgrace and public odium" he has caused them. Where does that happen? Could they cite one example of what they preach? Negative. No example. The only one lives somewhere in their unnatural imaginations.

In fact, visit any prison today. You'll see how relations of inmates struggle to provide for them outside their official dues – food, soap, clothing and the likes. See how they bribe prison wardens just to have interactions and to provide something as basic as guguru and epa (popcorn and groundnuts). Then, after all that when the person is eventually released, you cast him away and go to lengths to remind him of how much disgrace he has caused. Is it natural?

But then, many things in Ibori’s case have not been natural. Not at all. No rational observer outside those in the project would think so. First, Ibori has never been the President of Nigeria. He was only a governor. Yet, his name makes such a din as if he pocketed the Nigerian commonwealth. Strange.

But more is in the fact that the groundswell of complaints is coming from far outside Delta State. The average Delta State indigene sees him as a great man, a point they demonstrate in words and deed without apology. Yet, his traducers will not let go. How can you cry more than the bereaved? Wetin concern you if the money no be your own? But that is the contradiction.

The people, in spite of the goading from outside, see no reason why they must throw mud at their hero. They have instead made him kingmaker, allowing him to, in the way the of the Ziks and Awolowos, crown kings. Yet his traducers see no connect. They wonder why. Such audaciousness!

But then it is all about tendencies. In Lagos, the easiest way to deal with an enemy is to shout ole (thief) in the street of Ajegunle or Mushin or at Mile 2 or Oshodi bus stop. The matter would be concluded in such a jiffy before you have the opportunity of a change of heart. Such is it that anybody that tries to be rational, would be lucky to leave the scene with his limbs intact. It is called mob mentality.

Yet, Ibori, like the proverbial tailless cow, for which its god drives away flies, somehow, always manages to remain one step ahead and like the cat with nine lives, manages to float above water when he is supposed to have drowned.



Image result for nuhu ribadu


Imagine how that judge that was supposed to nail him as the prosecution star witness in the ex-convict case floundered. The same man, boasting his supposedly sharp mind, was able to identify that he jailed one scalawag some 20 years back, but could not recall the person he claimed came to bribe him six months ago. Of course, his evidence was thrown out and the case collapsed. How did Ibori’s lawyers get around to pursuing that line of questioning that obviously caught the witness napping? Yet, the public interpretation was that Ibori’s deep pocket bought the judgement.

Perhaps, that is even the cause of the increasing anger. Why can’t we catch this man? Why is he so intractable? For indeed, that is mostly what it is all about - anger.

Yes, they try to hide it in some sort of righteous indignation, using corruption as a camouflage, as they have done in the last week or so, only to expose themselves at the slightest test. Of course, it has very little to do with corruption.

After all, the amount the former governor is said to have stolen, officially, pales into insignificance with what is standing against some of his colleagues, who are equally undergoing trial. Yet, nobody seems to remember them anymore. So, why the noise? At a point, it was as if to jail Ibori would be the beginning of the end of corruption in Nigeria. Surprisingly, the same government of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, which did the yeoman's job is now being touted as the most corrupt in Nigeria's history. Interestingly, the verdict is coming from the same people who pushed him to nail Ibori. What a world?

How come it has taken Ibori’s release from London prison, last week for Nigerians to know that there still lived in the country the hordes of social pretenders, who coalesce under the platform of the fanciful sobriquet – Civil Rights Organisations?

Since then, it has been like an unsuspecting thief scaling the wall into a compound full of guard dogs. Such feasting! It is now another season of half-truths, subterfuge and outright lies. Senseless, obtuse, childish, illogical logic are spewing everywhere like a burst sewage pipe, while the staccato music is heard in distant places.

Certainly, it appears the next big project, since burying the ambition of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, a former ally, whom they abandoned for President Muhammadu Buhari, when their paymasters said it was time to do so. Who would have believed that they are no longer snoozing like overfed cats these past 20 months after virtually pulling down the Nigerian roof to get at the former President?

Even with all the calamities in the land they have slept on. Under their somnolent nose, close to 500 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), were killed in one day by known soldiers with identifiable commanders, for standing in the way of their boss, but not one word was heard. While they snored, hundreds of members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), fell to the live bullets of the army and police - youths in their primes, amongst them possible alchemists that could discover the cure of cancer, AIDS, diabetes and other devastating ailments ravaging the country or engineers that could build the world’s fastest airplane or economists that could propound theories capable of springing Nigeria into the giant it has failed to be in the comity of nations. Not a word.

Yes, under their nose, various communities in Kaduna, Benue, Kogi, Taraba, Zamfara, Enugu, Abia, Ondo and other parts of the country, invaded by murderous Fulani herdsmen, have since been counting dead bodies like sacks of oranges in season, without anybody lifting a finger.

Under their nose, the price of fuel jumped from N65 to N145 in one day, without a whimper, electricity tariff jumped to more than 500 per cent, the civil service figure rose with names of sons, daughters, friends and well-wishers of the rich and highly connected, as well as the few, who could afford the hefty amounts demanded under the table in secret employments, without any noise. Under their nose, stories of mindless pillaging of the commonwealth continued, with the most bestial case of man’s inhumanity to man, being the infamous N250million grass cutting contract saga involving a no mean person than the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Lawal Babachir. Yet, not a whimper.

Right in their nose, hundreds of homes were destroyed and millions of people, including women and children, the aged, the blind, cripple infirm and other vulnerable members of the society, sent to encounter the elements under searing sun and thunderous rain, when Otodo Gbame, a predominantly Egun waterfront community in Lekki, came under the devastating blades of bulldozers and bonfires of policemen working in concert with the Lagos State government.

They have left all that since Ibori happened. And like hunting dogs let loose by their owners, all you hear are deafening barking everywhere. The sleeping is over. No more snoring. Once again, it is activism activated – Ibori must not happen.

The massively and delicately weaved and concocted tales have surfaced again to cast him in the garb of a perpetual criminal. Oh! Britain has returned him to prison to face further charges. That failed. Yes, an electronic bangle is placed on his ankle to track his movement. It didn’t happen. Oh, he is under house arrest and not allowed to move within a certain range. Again negative.

Having failed in their kill-joy attempts, they now return home. Why should his kin “celebrate?” Don’t they know that their son is a common felon who has brought shame to his people? Where is the value?

Value? These were the same people who rallied round to stymie the case of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu during his Toronto certificate saga, and prevented the public from knowing the truth; who met, conferred and took a decision to “protect our” own. Were they not the same people that wrote the late Gani Faweihinmi to soft-pedal when he took up the case? Then nobody talked about honour or shame.

Today, you could as well have switched back to 2010 scenario. The same setting, the same stage and the same actors. Daily, “exclusives” in traditional Ibori must die newspapers quoting one EFCC “source” or the other with outlandish tales even an imbecile would know are, at best, setting an agenda, are given vintage positions just to hit at the target.

Nothing is bizarre any longer. Professionalism and objectivity, the hallmark of the media are thrown to the dogs. Stealing is a Culture in Delta, ran a particular headline with the highly inflammable gist of how the people of Delta State have all become thieves and supporters of thieves, simply because they rejoiced that their son is out of prison. Yet, a supposedly A-list newspaper, with all the gatekeepers went to town with the story.

Of course, it would have been incomplete telling a story without mentioning the tortoise. So, out almighty Nuhu Ribadu, Nigeria’s quintessential anti-corruption czar. He had to come into the mix to continue what he started. It doesn’t matter to them that the ever-ready ex-EFCC boss, could, tomorrow think nothing of telling how he was misquoted all along and how Ibori was the cleanest Nigerian that ever lived, if he believed that that would open the door to the next opportunity for him.

After all, was it not the self-same Ribadu, who told the entire world of how Tinubu’s corruption was of international dimension and later became an errand boy for the same man; who told the world that his boss, Olusegun Obasanjo had no blemish of corruption, even with the presidential library project and the Halliburton case, staring him in the face and who told the world of how a certain Bayelsa State first lady, was caught with millions of raw dollars, only to deny ever saying so, when he was sorted out? Right away, it is time for another agenda in the never-ending Ibori project and he is again on call.

Recall that he was the same person who regaled those who cared to listen about how Ibori tried to bribe him with $15million. Both the story and the huge amount, seem to have disappeared from the radar, after becoming a subject of court case between the Federal Government and that of Delta State, which demanded that it be returned since it was reportedly stolen from the state coffers. Till date, no mention has been made of the amount until Ibori’s release. Now, we are being told that EFCC is asking for Ibori’s “extradition and that Ribadu, had been listed and had accepted to be a star witness for the EFCC, in the $15million bribery case.”

Yet, since Farida Waziri, his successor accused him of “lust for power, inordinate ambition and desperation for political relevance that continue to push him to dine and wine, and even enjoy the wealth of those he had labelled as corrupt in yesteryears” not a few Nigerians, had expected an ample reply.

“There is also the need to remind Nuhu Ribadu that before he succumbs to another logorrhoea, he should avail himself a copy of the investigative report on recovered asset during his tenure as EFCC chairman and use the opportunity of the next naming ceremony or birthday party he is invited to, to explain to Nigerians what happened to billions of funds and asset recovered from suspects under him, with no records or documentation,” Waziri, had gone ahead to say. But it appears the wait might be forever the way things are going.

Now, is it too much to ask of Ribadu's media goons, who regale the public daily with meaty Ibori stories to get a copy of this advertised investigative report and splash it with the same gusto for the benefit of their eager readers? After all they have easy access to EFCC “sources” that always avail them. Or better still, couldn’t they try to get to a reply from Ribadu himself, any reply, willy-nilly, at least to show a semblance of balancing? But whosai! Not when the answer is staring them in the face.

Yet, you eulogise Ribadu, as the purest character in the world with the same passion you loathe Ibori, as a cesspit of corruption, who must be stoned publicly. Yet, you have not been able to tell Nigerians how the former was able to contest the presidency and recently governorship elections in a country like Nigeria, where the earnings of a retired policeman, even an IG for 20 years cannot host one rally in a small state like Ebonyi or Ekiti. Perhaps that would be too much to ask. Even the wacky and fantastic tale some years back, of how a certain father in-law paid for a certain imposing and exotic Abuja building, is no longer within the people's reach. What with a docile and ready to serve media gang doing the dirty work. Yet, you're talking about corruption and fighting it. How would it work?

In the end, it boils down to the same thing – failure of the system. It is simple. There is no way you would be doing the same thing the same way everyday and expect a different result. Only a mad man, it is said, does that.

In the instant case, you could not be equipping a mob with stones to throw at the likes Ibori, while protecting the likes of Ribadu and defending him with every fibre in you, just because he is your friend.

In fact, from available records, Ibori was already a known billionaire before becoming a governor. Apart from personally sponsoring his own election, he was reputed to have spent his personal money sponsoring other aspirants to different positions at the same time.

How many politicians of Ibori's ilk can boast of same? How far can a Ribadu, a retired police officer with little known means, boast of the resources to do the big things only deep pockets can afford and why is nobody asking the right question? Why then do you believe that you are at liberty to heckle one and praise the other or love one and hate the other if your reason is corruption or morals?

That is the contradiction in all the hullaballoo that has gained momentum in the last week. First remove the log in your eyes in order to see clearly to remove the speck in another man’s eye. It is as simple as the bible puts it. Not doing so is fatal to the project. That is what has killed the anti-corruption war in Nigeria and not people celebrating the return of a loved one from prison. Pure and simple. To boot. Ibori’s supporters do not see him as a victim of justice, but of injustice. They don’t believe he had a fair trial. In fact, they believe that he was persecuted and not prosecuted. Therefore, they don’t believe that justice was done.

Even the argument that he had his days in court and “pleaded guilty” holds little water. It doesn't cut an ice either. For his supporters believe that it was the outcome of a well-orchestrated conspiracy between two state actors – Nigeria and Britain that handed him a fair accompli, a devil and blue sea scenario in which he simply chose the better option. That belief increases their enthusiasm to rejoice. It is not because they love corruption or because they "have a culture of corruption," as is being bandied. After all, it is a dictum in law that justice must not only be done, but seen to be done.

What is more? Ibori who was the hunted yesterday, has become the hunter today. His appeal to that same conviction, is due in the UK court very soon, which means he doesn't believe he deserved his fate. Besides, at this moment, all those who hounded and handed him over to the jailor, are under intensive scrutiny themselves.

What then happens if it ends in glorious song for him? What happens if it is discovered that his conviction is not “safe” and his sentencing is quashed? What happens if his properties are not seized? What happens if he returns to Nigeria with a fat envelope in form of compensation? How will some people cope? In fact, how will they survive if they don’t have the chance of calling him an ex-convict to his face as they seem to so earnestly crave and waiting to do?

Yet, these are possibilities, which they must also prepare for. For surely, if they cannot manage that people are rejoicing over his release, what will happen if he is totally cleansed?





Posted on December, 27 2016

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