All Progressives Congress, (APC): Orji Uzor-Kalu aka OUK
- Claims to being an even better anti-corruption commander than President Buhari: “My prosecution is political. Our accounts in Abia State were transparent under my watch. The US knows, the UK knows. I have been given a red carpet in these two countries. I have been given a red carpet in China. In fact, I am stronger in fighting corruption than President Muhammadu Buhari because he is not fighting it well…I have recovered people’s money and given them back. I am a creator of wealth at every level. If any court finds me corrupt, it should jail me”, (SaharaReporters, March 13th, 2018). That is Orji Uzor Kalu articulating his interesting claim about being also an anti-corruption warrior himself and perhaps a better one than the president. He insists that he had no reasons to steal public funds since he was already rich before becoming governor, (lindaikejisblogg.com/March 14th, 2018)
- The former governor is on a 12-year old trial: It all began on July 27th, 2007 when the EFCC took him to court on a 107- count charge of money laundering, official corruption and criminal diversion of public funds. The case which has enjoyed a meandering journey from Abia to Lagos and Abuja is now adjourned indefinitely, (See Daily Post, for example: EFCC Vs Orji Kalu: Why I Can’t Continue Ex-Governor’s Corruption Case”, January 23, 2019). Justice Mohammed Idris, the trial judge said so because the fiat he received from Zainab Bulkachuwa, the President of the Court of Appeal on January 10th, 2019 did not include Kalu’s case. Former Gov Kalu’s ‘No case’ submission was set aside on July 31st, 2018, followed by his request for 6 week adjournment to allow him undergo surgery outside the country. His failure to appear in court subsequently led to revocation of the bail and order of his arrest, (Vanguard, November 13th, 2018.
- An Obasanjo specific anti-corruption crusader: OUK is a hard headed anti-corruption fighter but in a specific sense. His is directed solely at Chief Olusegun Obasanjo whose arrest and trial he canvasses at any opportunity. While it was a letter to Obasanjo as in The Guardian’s story, “Kalu Writes Obasanjo: You are Corrupt, Sir”, (August 16th, 2015), in 2018, it “Obasanjo is Nigeria’s Most Corrupt president – Orji Kalu” as carried by Independent, (April 9th, 2018). Earlier on March 14th, 2018, OUK had been reported, (lindaikejisblogg.com) as saying at the Quarterly Public Lecture series of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation that the anti-corruption war in Nigeria would be far more credible if the government prosecuted former president Obasanjo. He contends that Obasanjo prevented the auditing of the NNPC when he was president apart from being guilty of cronyism.
- Kalu cleared by the APC to contest for a senatorial seat in spite of the court cases: As in The Sun’s report: APC Clears Kalu for Abia Senatorial Primaries”, (October 2nd, 2018) or SaharaReporter’s: BREAKING: Despite Ongoing N72bn ‘Fraud’ Trial, APC Clears Orji Kalu for Senatorial Contest”, (October 2nd, 2018). The relevance of the clearance to contest here is how it echoes when Atiku Abubakar mentioned Kalu among the 28 corrupt people he says are working for Buhari’s re-election.
People’s Democratic Party, (PDP): Senator Ike Ekweremadu
- The Deputy Senate-President has remained under anti-corruption agency’s radar and actions: He has been a guest of the EFCC to, according to the agency, clarify issues around alleged illicit acquisition mainly in the UK, US and UAE and estimated at 13 by some media houses to be 13 as in the story “What we want from Ekweremadu – EFCC”, (Premium Times, July 31, 2018) while some others speak of 60 as in “Here is the list of 60 houses reportedly traced to Nigeria’s Deputy Senate-President”, (pulse.com, August 2nd, 2018). The media headlines provide an idea of what is at issue: “Deputy Senate President Ekweremadu In EFCC Custody”, (Channels Television, July 31, 2018); “Nigeria wan seize Ekweremadu 22 house”, (BBC, March 22nd, 2018); “JUST IN: Ekweremadu corruption case begins”, (Sunnewsonline, March 22nd, 2018) “BREAKING: FG charges Ekweremadu for alleged asset fraud”, (Daily Trust, October 10th, 2018). On December 18th, 2018, Daily Post published the story, “Presidency writes UK govt, calls for corruption probe against Ekweremadu, Uzodinma, others”. Broadly, the EFCC argues that Ekweremadu has been a public officer since 1999 to date during which he had not earned anything outside his salaries and allowances, (see “EFCC detains Ekweremadu Over 22 properties”, The Punch, August 1st, 2018).
- Ekweremadu has defenders against his perceived traducers, the most referential of whom must be the Enugu Diocese of the Anglican Communion which rose on his side on July 30th, 2018 as in the story, “Ekweremadu Not Corrupt, Church Chides FG”, (Vanguard, July 30th, 2018). Led on a solidarity visit to the Deputy-Senate President by the Most Reverend Dr. Emmanuel Olisa Chukwuma, the Archbishop of Enugu Province and Bishop of Enugu Diocese of the Anglican Communion, it calls EFCC siege on the politician’s house witch-hunting exercise, a claim for which it said it has no apology to the Federal Government. “We are here to tell the world that you are a true child of God who nobody should find way to rubbish. As far as we are concerned with your credibility and integrity, we have not heard since you started your journey as the local government chairman, moving to becoming Chief of Staff, Secretary to the Government of Enugu State to what you are now, there is no record, and nobody has ever heard that you stole anywhere. … When we heard the list of those, up till now, published of those who ate money in the 2015 election, we didn’t find your name there and so we are embarrassed when they say EFCC. What is EFCC looking for? EFCC should please leave Ekweremadu alone because his name was never mentioned anywhere”. It concluded that anyone touching Ekweremadu was “touching the eyes of God and those of Ndi’Igbo which they shall not take for granted.
- There is also a counter-narrative to the Church/ethnic representation of the Senator’s case: It is best captured by the story “Anti-corruption fight: Group cautions against ethnic interference”, (The Nation, August 5th, 2018). In it, the Non Governmental Organisation, Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative (ARDI) cautioned against what it calls ethnic meddlesomeness in the fight against corruption, saying in a statement in Enugu that the rate at which ethnic and socio-cultural organisations rise to the defence of politicians from their area under investigation for alleged corruption had become worrisome. The Executive Secretary of the group, Chief Dennis Aghanya, was reacting to the position of Ohaneze Ndigbo on the investigation of Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). “Most worrisome is the role of Ohaneze Ndigbo which see every prosecution of their own extraction as unjust”, said Aghanya. Reporting the same statement, The Guardian, (see, “Group cautions against ethnic sentiments in Ekweremadu’s ordeal”, August 6th, 2018) quoted Aghanya as saying “Our position is that he should answer the issues raised against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged 60 assets traced to him, rather than applying all sorts of tactics to slow down investigation”
- Controversy over EFCC Anti-Corruption Ambassador Status: A scanty report of pronouncement of Senator Ekweremadu as anti-corruption ambassador of the EFCC was denied by the EFCC which said the fellow who made the pronouncement was on his own, viz “Ekweremadu not our anti-corruption ambassador – EFCC”, (PMNews, April 20th, 2016) where the denial was most elaborately reported. Two paragraphs from its reporting brings out the tension most and is quoted in full here: According to a statement issued to the press by the Special Adviser to the Deputy Senate President, Uche Anichukwu, the purported decoration, was carried out by the EFCC National Assembly Liaison Officer, one Suleiman Bakari who was quoted to have said: “ On behalf of my acting chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Mustafa Magu and the entire management and staff of the EFCC, decorate you as an Anti- Corruption Ambassador and formally present this frame, as a token of our appreciation to your person and office, and as a symbol of the institutional partnership between the EFCC and the National Assembly…Reacting to the decoration, “The EFCC totally dissociates itself from the purported action of Bakari as he acted entirely on his own and clearly outside his liaison officer brief as he was never instructed by the Acting Chairman nor mandated by the management and staff of the Commission to decorate Ekweremadu or any officer of the National Assembly as ‘Anti- Corruption Ambassador’.”
- History of fleeting advocacy for an anti-corruption special court. The Newsexpress reported it thus: Ekweremadu calls for establishment of special courts to try corruption cases”, (April 20th, 2016). This story was, however, not reported across the media and no follow up was cited.
South – South
All Progressives Congress, (APC): Senator Godswill Akpabio
In the case of Senator Godswill Akpabio, his decamping from the PDP to the APC in August 2018 emerged the overarching issue as far his probity sensibility is concerned. But that overarching issue has four components in corruption reporting as can be seen below.
- Media representation of Senator Akpabio’s decamping from the PDP to the APC as the greatest dent on the anti-corruption war: The Punch says “Akpabio’s defection puts Buhari’s anti-corruption war under the spotlight”, (August 11th, 2018). Even before The Punch, BBCPidgin asserted how “Godswill Akpabio defection dey make Nigerians wonda about President Buhari corruption fight”, (August 8th, 2018). Elsewhere, the title is “You have zero tolerance for corruption, yet Akpabio is Akwa Ibom State APC Chairman – Omokiri to Buhari”, (www.informationng.com/August 9th, 2018). “FG Shielding Akpabio From Prosecution For Corrupt Allegation ― Group” was Nigerian Tribune reporting the standpoint of a group by the name Civil Society Groups for Accountability and Probity on the issue as late as January 14th, 2019.
- Senator Akpabio has a counter-narrative of his decamping: “I joined APC to help President Buhari fight corruption – Godswill Akpabio”, (lindaikejisblog/August 29th, 2018); “2019: I am in APC to help Buhari fight corruption”, (Daily Post, August 29th, 2018); “I joined APC to help FG fight Corruption”, (SaharaReporters, August 30th, 2018) and “Akpabio: What I Find Attractive in APC”, (ThisDayLive, August 30th, 2018)
- EFCC says his decamping means nothing to it: Below is how the media captured EFCC’s major outing thereto: “We haven’t closed case against Akpabio – EFCC”, (The Punch, August 9th, 2018); “Akpabio: EFCC says it’s still investigating APC Senator for Fraud”, (Pulse, August 9th, 2018); “EFCC shocks Akpabio, says corruption case not closed”, (Daily Post, August 9th, 2018).
- The Senator is not short of defenders: He has a formidable set of lawyers who told the world that claims of corruption against the Senator are figments of imagination. “Lawyers debunk corruption allegations against Akpabio” is common to the reporting of the stand of the lawyers in several Nigerian media September 5th, 2018 viz (Daily Trust; Sunnewsonline.com; theeagleonline.com and newsexpressngr.com).
People’s Democratic Party, (PDP): Senator Peter Nwaoboshi
- The Senator is on trial for alleged corruption: His problems started with his arrest by EFCC as relayed by SaharaReporters viz “EFCC Arrests Delta Senator, Peter Nwaoboshi”, (April 23rd, 2018). Premium Times offered a similar account in “Nigerian Senator Detained by EFCC for Days”, (April 23rd, 2018). The paper further updated on this headline with its April 25th story: Why Judge Sent Nigerian Senator, Nwaoboshi, to Prison”. From the Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA) came an April 27th, 2018 headline: Senator Nwaoboshi Granted Bail on Self-Recognition After 2 Days in Prison”, On June 20th, 2018, SaharaReporters followed it with “Trial: Court Opens Conspiracy and Money Laundering’ Trial of Senator Nwaoboshi”.
- He puts his trial to witch-hunting: What the EFCC sees as trial for alleged corruption by buying a Delta State Government property in Lagos with over N800m, N300m plus of it from laundered money, the Senator sees as witch-hunting consistent with ‘return of dark days of military rule’. In a May 2018 letter to members of the NASS after he came out of prison, (see “Senator Says He Was Humiliated by EFCC”, Pulse, May 2nd, 2018 or Punch’s May 2nd, 2018 headline: Alleged N322m Fraud: EFCC Humiliated Me, Nwaoboshi Complains to Senate”), the Senator told his colleagues he had done nothing wrong and that his travails was due to his position and stand at the National Assembly. While thanking them for ‘standing solidly behind him’ in his ‘ordeal in the hands of EFCC’, he asked that the Senate stood up to “forces and agents of oppression, tyranny and subjugation”
- NICrel Rises up in his defense: Apparently in agreement with the Senator’s narrative of his trial, one platform rose in defence of him. The New Initiative for Credible Leadership, (NICrel) said his trial is a campaign of calumny and a ploy to silence opposition. Daily Post’s account of this is “NICrel Reacts to Trial of Delta Senator by EFCC”, (July 22, 2018).
South – West
All Progressives Congress, (APC): Governor Abiola Ajimobi
- Governor Ajimobi argues that every Nigerian is corrupt-Ajimobi: In some headlines, this is reported as “Every Nigerian is Corrupt”, (Sunnewsonline, August 4th, 2016). In some others, it is reported as “Virtually every Nigerians is corrupt”, (The Cable, August 4th, 2016). Still, in yet others, it is “All Nigerians are corrupt”, (ThisDayLive, October 25th, 2016). In both August and November 2016 when he argued this standpoint, he stressed the multi-dimensionality of corruption beyond short shrifting the society in financial or material terms. “If you look at it generally, you will see that virtually every Nigeria is corrupt, virtually everybody is corrupt in one way or the other either attitudinally, financially or socially, and this, we believe should be looked into”.
- Poses Buhari’s anti-corruption war as the model:”Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade best for Nigeria – Ajimobi” reports The Nation, (Sept. 5th, 2015). He is consistent on this, going as far as presenting Buhari’s challenger in binary terms as in this headline, “Buhari, Atiku Contest is Day Versus Night, Integrity Versus Corruption”, (Nigerian Tribune, January 24th, 2019). In the story itself, he likened the choice between Buhari and Atiku as the difference between day and night, progress and retrogression, integrity and corruption, credible and abysmal performance, insecticides and locusts, security and insecurity”
People’s Democratic Party, (PDP): Otunba Gbenga Daniels
- Otunba Gebenga Daniel is on the travel ban list: The Cable puts it as “Gbenga Daniels, Orji Kalu, High Profile Nigerians ‘Affected’ by FG’s Travel Ban”, (October 14th, 2018). In The Nation, it came as “CORRUPTION TRAVEL BAN: Dasuki, Badeh, Daniel, Amosu, Yuguda, 45 others top travel ban list”, (October 15th, 2018)
- Rates National Unity Higher than Fighting corruption: He is saying “2019 Will Be Referendum on Leadership Trust”, (ThisDay Live, October 19th, 2017). The title in Leadership is: “PDP Chair: Focus on National Integration, Not Corruption”, (October 19th, 2017). According to the papers, the former governor of Ogun State submitted while campaigning for National Chairmanship of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) that the solution to a nation’s problem cannot just be in fighting corruption, but to first fight national disunity, that the present All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration had failed to restore trust in governance and the challenge facing the country before 2019 election is that of getting the right leadership that would restore national unity.
- Poses Atiku Abubakar as a critique of Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential contest: He is Atiku Abubakar’s best marketer in terms of fending off corruption perception of the candidate which he says is politically motivated, (see “Corruption Perception About Atiku Politically Motivated”, (Channels Television, October 31st, 2018). He attacks President Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign as in “Nigeria More Corrupt Under APC, Says Ex-Governor”, (Pulse, October 18th, 2017).
- Clumsy corruption trial progression: On March 2nd, 2012, Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje discharged and acquitted the former governor because the EFCC did not follow due process in amending initial charges and the court, said the judge, could not proceed with the trial. Vanguard titled its story, “Corruption charges: Court frees Gbenga Daniels”. “EFCC has made a fundamental error and based on their failure to fulfil the constitutional provision, the court cannot go on to hear the case unless the right thing is done”, he had declared then, a position which EFCC Counsel Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), responded by describing it a “pyrrhic victory” for the accused, adding that Mr. Daniel was not yet off the hook, (see “EFCC Reboots Case Against Gbenga Daniel”, (PMNews, April 16th, 2012). On February 24th, 2018, the same Judge threatened to close the case brought before it by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against the former Governor. The Independent titled it, “Judge Threatens To Close EFCC Case Against Gbenga Daniel”. According to the paper, the trial judge was infuriated with EFCC lead counsel’s request for another adjournment after about two hours when the court resumed for the business of the day.
Gender: Stella Oduah
Senator Odua is selected randomly strictly to bring the gender face to the compilation although the other side of that criterion is a woman who has held high state office recently and has had any sensational corruption allegation story to deal with.
- Completely denies corruption liability: Senator Oduah does not accept liability for alleged acts of corruption of which the most sensational was the story that she was dismissed as Minister for Aviation under the Goodluck Administration for buying bullet proof Mercedes cars at $1.6m. contrary to that impression, she argues it was a jealous, fellow woman and minister colleague, not corruption, that sent her packing from the cabinet. That is, Diezani Allison-Madueke who was then Minister for Petroleum. In a story titled “Diezani was so jealous, she made Jonathan fire me”, (November 21st, 2017), Pulse quotes her as telling the author of ‘On a Platter of Gold: How Jonathan Won and Lost Nigeria’ that she knew all along that Diezani could not deal with having another female around who had the kind of access she (Stella) had to the president but that even then, Diezani went too far. “She thought I was the one who leaked the issue of private jet that put her into trouble with the House of Representatives (Diezani was accused of spending N10B on chartered jets). For her it was payback time…Diezani was paying people to keep the story alive. At the same time, she was whispering in (the president)’s ears that he had to take action”, the paper reported Oduah from the book. She further claimed to the author the presence of Mrs Madueke in The Villa apart from the Secretary to FG on the day the president summoned her in the aftermath of the bullet-proof luxury car scandal becoming a subject of intense press coverage. Similarly, she challenged Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, for including her name in a Looters’ List compiled by the government, saying that all allegations against her were nothing more than mere media sensation orchestrated for political reasons. Arguing her as in SaharaReporters’ story, “Looters List: Stella Oduah Denies Stealing N9.8billion”, (April 3rd, 2018), the former minister contended that the trend of harassing past office holders with false and malicious allegations to score a political point destroys rather than help the integrity of the anti-corruption stance of the government because, according to her, “governance is not warfare”. While her case throws more light on the power play behind some corruption stories, it also raises the question of whether buying those Mercedes Benz cars was justified and followed due processes or not.
- The Senator is comprehensively mentioned in several corruption cases in spite of her denial: One most prominent of such cases must be the February 26th, 2018 case, starting with “Stella Oduah in EFCC Over N9.4billion Alleged Fraud”, (Daily Post); “EFCC Questions Stella Oduah”, (Premium Times); Stella Oduah in EFCC Over N9.4billion Alleged Fraud”, (The Cable) and “N3.9bn Fraud: EFCC Grills Oduah for Eight Hours”, (Punch, April 27th, 3018). Much, much earlier on, The Nation had written of “How Oduah, Others Shared N3.9bn Airports Contract Cash”, (February 5th, 2018).
This concludes the session on senatorial candidates for the February 16th, 2019 polls. It has not captured every contestant from even the APC and the PDP to which the power and probity profiling was reduced. But the few that were selected on the basis of one contestant from each of the parties from each of the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria has captured the basic features of the power elite in relation to dealing with corruption. What is clear is that very few have any discourse of corruption at all. A few others do while quite many reduce it to a Buhari versus Atiku issue rather than a nation building issue. It doesn’t seem to be a problem to quite a number of them to deploy ethno-religious shields when the EFCC is after them. The Nigerian society too is vulnerable to accepting all allegations of corruption without much interrogation, which the media should have been doing for the society. And so on and so forth. This conclusion is for this section of the series which will be concluded with a much shorter segment for the gubernatorial election as it draws closer. A more comprehensive conclusion will be drawn after that last segment. We thank every reader for following so far and we welcome comments, observations, reservations and other forms of inputs that can add value to the idea of turning on corruption discourses to build a power and probity profile of members of the power elite in Nigeria in the aftermath of the impending elections.