YEARS after leaving office, many former governors suspected to have looted the resources of their states are to face criminal prosecution.
As a prelude to taking on the suspects, who are no fewer than 31 in number, the Federal Government recently raised a national prosecution team made up of eminent Nigerian lawyers to review all the corruption cases already investigated by anti-graft agencies over the years.
Ironically, many of the suspects left office as early as 2003, while the rest ended their tenure and lost immunity from prosecution between 2007 and 2015 but were never questioned by any of the agencies. Most of them were reportedly investigated by the Justice Mustapha Akanbi-led Independent Corrupt Practices and other offices Commission, ICPC, while others were probed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The Buhari administration, whose major agenda is to eradicate corruption from the polity, is said to be upset that the suspected politically exposed persons have not been brought to justice, thereby giving fillip to many other politicians to loot with impunity. The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, confirmed to Vanguard at the weekend, that all the corruption cases against the former governors were being reviewed.
“I can confirm that all the cases referred to are being reviewed to ensure that those who have cases are brought to book, while those who have no case are cleared once and for all,” the minister said. Plans to revoke Odili, others’ cases Vanguard learned from competent sources that the Federal Government had also begun moves to revoke the perpetual injunction secured by former Rivers State governor, Dr. Peter Odili, to pave the way for his trial over alleged mismanagement of N100 billion by his administration. The government is said to be making the point that the judge who granted the injunction worked against the overall interest of justice as the constitution of Nigeria didn’t give the judge the power to permanently protect a suspect from being investigated and tried for financial crimes.
The federal judge, who gave the injunction, is said to be under pressure to explain to legal authorities why he granted such an order and whether in his opinion, the cause of justice had been effectively served by his questionable decision. The EFCC is said to be working relentlessly to set aside the injunction, which had shaken the judicial circles since it was given by the judge in 2007. The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, is said to have written to the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission directing the reopening of the cases.
A top source in ICPC confirmed that many of the former governors were investigated and charged to court but that the cases had not made progress, thus giving the impression that nothing was done about them. Among the former governors whose cases are being reopened are President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki (Kwara); factional Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ali Modu Sheriff (Borno); the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); and Dr. Peter Odili (Rivers).
The case files, according to sources in the Ministry of Justice, have already been recalled for necessary actions. Others, whose cases are being reviewed, include Orji Uzor Kalu (Abia), Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu), Saminu Turaki (Jigawa), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Joshua Dariye (Plateau), Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara), Gabriel Suswam (Benue), Martin Elechi (Ebonyi), Danjuma Goje (Gombe) and Murtala Nyako (Adamawa). The rest are: Ikedi Ohakim (Imo), Obong Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom), Achike Udenwa (Imo), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa), Gbenga Daniel (Ogun), Jolly Nyame (Taraba), Boni Haruna (Adamawa), George Akume (Benue), Rashidi Ladoja (Oyo), Attahiru Bafarawa (Sokoto), Adebayo Alao-Akala (Oyo), Usman Dakingari (Kebbi), Adamu Mu’azu (Bauchi), and Lucky Igbinedion (Edo).
In reviewing the cases, Malami said: “It is clear that some of these governors and other politically-exposed persons have not been charged to court, despite the fact that the ICPC has concluded their investigations concerning allegations levelled against them, for one reason or the other. “It is the position of the present administration that these suspects must be prosecuted in line with the anti-corruption agenda of the government,” Malami said.