Benue and Suswam’s vindi­ca­tion

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Ge­orge Ti­mothy Amuna

One time At­tor­ney Gen­eral of the Fed­er­a­tion (AGF) and Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, Michael Kaase Aaon­doakaa has writ­ten a pe­ti­tion he wrote to the Eco­nomic and Financial Crimes Com­mis­sion (EFCC) against the im­me­di­ate past gover­nor of his home state - Benue, Gabriel Suswam. A fair disclaimer here is to point out that Suswam, un­like known as­so­ci­ates of Aaon­doakaa when he held sway, has in­di­cated he has noth­ing against be­ing in­ves­ti­gated either by the in­cum­bent Benue state gov­ern­ment or the EFCC at the fed­eral level pro­vided the ex­er­cises are not driven by de­sire to witch hunt.

Per­haps, there is some­thing be­hind Suswam’s con­fi­dence. His ac­count of ste­ward­ship as the gover­nor of Benue state for eight years has be­come like the smoke of a bush­fire that flushes out bad eggs dur­ing a com­mu­nal vil­lage hunt. Suswam’s de­brief­ing at the EFCC flushed out Aaon­doakaa out of his farm where he had gone on a de­serv­ing ex­ile with a state­ment he put out which read, “As a lawyer, I do not be­lieve that former Gover­nor Gabriel Suswam would want to drag my name into this mat­ter with the in­tent to de­stroy me for rea­sons best known to him.”

This state­ment im­me­di­ately call to mind that the na­tion’s re­ac­tion to those in­glo­ri­ous acts only broke the snakes back with­out sev­er­ing its head, the former At­tor­ney Gen­eral lost the ex­alted rank of SAN on ac­count of sundry al­le­ga­tions of abuse of of­fice and priv­i­leges, dur­ing his ten­ure as the na­tion’s chief law of­fi­cer.

He was fur­ther in­dicted for ques­tion­ably ter­mi­nat­ing 419 cases in court by is­su­ing un­jus­ti­fied nolli pros­e­qui to with­draw charges against the ac­cused per­sons even in tri­als that had reached ad­vanced stage and con­se­quently block­ing the anti-cor­rup­tion cru­sade of the gov­ern­ment he served.

Nige­ria be­came a laugh­ing stock in­ter­na­tion­ally when the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment was mis­led with fraud­u­lent le­gal opin­ion on cases of money laun­der­ing in­volv­ing the former Gover­nor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori. Ibori who is cur­rently serv­ing jail term in the United King­dom as the ju­di­ciary of that coun­try was not mis­led for one frac­tion of a sec­ond by the treach­ery of the former SAN, who had is­sued le­gal opin­ion to the late Pres­i­dent Umaru Yar’Adua gov­ern­ment sug­gest­ing that the EFCC can­not en­gage in mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion with the Bri­tish Metropoli­tan Po­lice on sup­ply of ev­i­dence ma­te­ri­als for the pros­e­cu­tion of money laun­der­ing sus­pects.

The com­mis­sion un­der the watch of an­other was re­duced to hold­ing world news con­fer­ences to pa­rade Ya­hoo boys while fat cat trea­sury loot­ers sip ex­pen­sive cham­pagne with the then chief law of­fi­cer.

For us in Delta state, we have ques­tions. For in­stance we want to know why Aaon­doakaa is ea­ger to bring Suswam to book when he de­nied us hav­ing the same op­por­tu­nity when he tried to free Ibori. Of course, he suc­cess­fully made Ibori a free man in Nige­ria had the UK author­i­ties not tried and jailed him. A con­vic­tion in Nige­ria would have at least al­lowed Delta state con­fisti­cate on­shore as­sets as well as use the court rul­ing to ini­ti­ate repa­tri­a­tion of the stolen funds. This is not to be.

Our neigh­bour­ing Edo state did not fare any bet­ter, a lu­di­crous plea bar­gain­ing had its former gover­nor, Lucky Ig­bine­dion pay­ing a measly N3.5 mil­lion fine af­ter ad­mit­ting to steal­ing N2.9 bil­lion. The prece­dence set by that out­come haunts the na­tion till date as ca­reer thieves get away with lighter than a slap on the wrist.

In the course of ren­der­ing ac­count, the in­ter­est of Benue peo­ple would have also been served since the names of those the peo­ple should be ask­ing ques­tions are sur­fac­ing. The peo­ple of Delta, Edo and other states whose gov­er­nors could not be prop­erly in­ves­ti­gated and tried un­der Aaon­doakaa watch are thus left hold­ing the slimy end of the stick. But if that were the case why would Suswam turn the ta­ble on him? What­ever the case is, for dar­ing to come out, Aaon­doakaa should be wor­ried.

At a time when one time Peo­ple Demo­cratic Party (PDP) hench­men and chief­tains are clinch­ing juicy ap­point­ments in an All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) gov­ern­ment, ev­ery­one with a sin­is­ter past could be for­given for hal­lu­ci­nat­ing about the prospects of hitch­ing a ride on the gravy train.

Ge­orge Ti­mothy Amuna, the Pres­i­dent of Pa­tri­ots With­out Bor­ders wrote in from As­aba, Delta State.

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