Friday, December 17, 2010

James Ibori As A case Study

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The British police have finally secured a victory in their quest to extradite the former governor of Delta state, Chief James Onanefe Ibori to Britain to answer to charges bordering on corruption. The police were given the nod by the Dubai appeal court which ruled in their favour that the former governor has a case to answer in Britain and could be extradited.

This development has brought an end to the drama that has been unfolding since the former Delta state number one citizen was first charged to court in Nigeria on grounds of corruption. The case was manipulated to the consternation of the average Nigerian citizen who watched as the case was politically influenced and eventually the governor was let off the hook since there were no conclusive evidences to nail him.

The new case of corruption against him came up after he finished his tenure as the governor of the state. He was declared wanted by the EFCC and the police to come and answer to charges of corruption levelled against him. He escaped through the back door as he was said to have used to services of some militants to prevent the EFCC from arresting him. He eventually escaped to Dubai where he has been taking solace.

He was said to have stolen several Billions of naira as the first citizen of Delta state; he was also alleged to have converted several millions of shares the state owned in Oceanic bank to his personal use. His wife Nkoyo Ibori was also alleged to have acted as a medium for him to use the stolen money to buy houses outside the shores of Nigeria. She has already been sentenced to a 5-year jail term by the British court.

When Ibori’s case first came up in Nigeria, Nigerians expected him to be easily nailed by the anti-graft agency; but as the days went by it became clear that he had used his political influence to his advantage. First a man surfaced from nowhere to declare that he was James Onanefe Ibori and that he was the person who committed the crime for which Ibori was being tried. The coincidence of names was too much for any right thinking person to accept – same first, middle and last name.

Secondly, his files could not be properly traced; his name was either entered into the log book of the court but missing from the judgment book or present in the log book but missing from the judgment book in the various courts he was formerly tried.

Besides, all the people who handled his case were said to have died and so there was no way to put the records straight. He thought he had played a smart one Nigerian who believed that one day justice would come from God.

The world is watching again to see if his files would be mysteriously missing this time around or if the principal witnesses would be all dead by the time his trial in the British court comes up after he might have been extradited. Bob Marley once said that “You can fool some people some of the times, but you can’t fool all the people all the time”.

Ibori’s case should serve as a warning to those in power who are feeding fat on public funds that they will give an account to the people one day. This should also make politicians realize that they can’t enjoy parliamentary immunity for ever.

Kudos to the British government for taking the bulls by the horns to help curb the excesses of Nigerian politicians who feel they could loot public treasuries without being questioned. Since the Nigerian government has refused to make elected leaders answerable to the electorates, the foreign countries are beginning to teach them how to do so.

Nigeria is blessed with crude oil and several solid mineral resources; but after over 50 years of oil exploration the country still ranks among the poorest in the world in terms of infrastructural development. The leaders have plundered the wealth of the country, leaving the majority of the people struggling to take care of their three square meals daily.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Adieu Pa Anthony Enahoro

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Nigeria has lost one of her foremost nationalists, Pa Anthony Enahoro (C.F.R, D.Sc Hon), who passed on at the ripe age of 87. He believed so much in Nigeria and was ready to keep the country from oppressive and repressive leadership.

Chief Anthony Enahoro would ever be remembered for his great achievements for his father land. He was the one who moved the Crisis Motion in Federal Parliament for Nigeria’s Self-government in 1953 at the age of 30.

The “Adolor of Uromi” was born on 22nd July, 1923 at Uromi, in present Edo state of Nigeria. He had his primary and secondary education in Nigeria before furthering his course abroad – Great Britain, Ireland, U.S.A, etc. where he had various degrees and certificates in different spheres.

He became the youngest Nigerian Newspaper editor ever at the age of 21 as the editor of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s newspaper, ‘The Southern Defender’ in 1944. Apart from being a publisher, he was also a Politician, Activist and Company director.

He was fearless as an activist; he challenged authoritarian government and was jailed trice for daring to speak against the government of the day. As the editor of the Daily Comet newspaper, he was jailed for nine months in 1946 for sedition; for daring to speak against the British Colonial government.

Few months after he regained his freedom, he was again jailed for 8 months in 1947 for condemning Police violence. He got another jail term in 1949 for chairing a lecture for the Zikist Movement. In the face of intimidation and victimization he never looked back: he refused to be cowed by the powers that be. He remained a dogged, determined and irrepressible voice.

He was once again jailed alongside others in 1964 after the subversion of the Western Regional Government. He remained fearless; he continued to defend the defenseless and timid masses. He continued to demand for the restoration of the inalienable rights of the citizenry of the country.

Anthony Enahoro held several Local, State and Federal positions before his death. He was former Information and Home affairs Minister of the Western Regional government led by the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo; a founding member of the University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife); Former Minister of Information, and Leader Nigerian Delegation to the United nations General Assembly.

Several honours were bestowed on him as well – D.Sc (Honoris Causa), Political Science, University of Benin, 1973; Grand Officer of the Order of Merit, Central African Republic 1973; Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (C.F.R) 1982; Grand Star of the Nation, Senegal; First Class Officer of the Order of the Two Niles, Sudan, and several others too numerous to mention.

The Elder statesman once again rose to the challenges of the tyrannical government of the Late General Sani Abacha, who emasculated several human right activists and proscribed several newspapers in an attempt to hold on tenaciously to the reins of power. He organized the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) that continually challenged the excesses of the military junta.

However, when the spate of sporadic assassination of opposition became too much, the Esan Chief was forced into self-exile in 1996. He returned back to Nigeria after the death of General Sani Abacha.

With the demise of Enahoro, Nigeria is now left with only a few pockets of human right activist that can truly stand their ground in the face of intimidation. The other activists like Chief Gani Fawehimi, Beko Ransome Kuti, Ken Saro-Wiwa, etc have all gone the way of all mortals.

Chief Anthony Enahoro was truly a voice for the helpless masses; a defender of the rights of the down-trodden and a patriot to the core. Adieu Pa Anthony Enahoro.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Julian Assange - What Lessons Does His Arrest Teach?

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Wikileaks founder, Julian Paul Assange was finally nabbed by the metropolitan police in London today after being declared wanted by the Interpol several days ago for alleged sex offence committed in Sweden.

He has been wanted by the police in connection with the said sex offence as well as for reasons of publishing highly sensitive documents best regarded as security risk. His website has been publishing documents related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has also published documentaries on extra-judicial killings in Kenya amongst other issues.

If tried by the law court and found guilty what happens next? Is he going to be jailed, pardoned or what actually happens? Maybe the opinion of the world would be sought or the law of Sweden would be applied.

The 39 year old Assange is an Australian national, journalist, internet activist, publisher, Mathematician and computer programmer. He is Amnesty International Media Award winner 2009 and Sam Adams award winner 2010. Now the question is if Julian Assange holds all these credentials why would he stoop low to commit a sex offence?

Was the offence real or cooked up? Who is actually guilty or would eventually be guilty, America, Sweden or Julian? He is a man shrouded in controversy at the moment; and God would tell us the truth.

If it is true that he was involved in sex crime, the law should be allowed to take its course. Women’s rights must be protected to reduce their vulnerability. Julian Assange is alleged to have had sex with his partner with a punctured condom which he failed to disclose to her.

What if she has been infected with a deadly STD (that is if he has one anyway)? What if it turns out to be the incurable HIV, how much would be used to compensate her? Men owe themselves the duty to be faithful/honest to women at least for their reputation.

The world is watching as the drama unfolds. Those who preach against injustice, human rights violation and oppression should never indulge in it otherwise their preaching would become hypocritical.

Assange has not been tried; but since his case has become so controversial, it would be wise to try him under public glare so that no other controversy would arise from it. The world should be convinced he is guilty of the said offence otherwise the world powers would be portrayed in bad light.

What do you think about Assange's case? Air your opinion.