Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bode Goes to Jail: The optimists, pessimists and conspiracy theorists

My heart was filled with so much joy when I heard the news that the former chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Olabode George along with five other members of the 2001/2003 Ports Authority Board are to spend two years in jail. Bode George and the NPA Five were found guilty and convicted on a 47-count charge, which includes disobedience to lawful order and abuse of office by splitting contracts to the tune of N84 billion by Justice Olubunmi Oyewole of the Lagos High Court.



The public reaction that followed the court ruling can be classified into three broad categories. As expected, we have the optimists. These are people who believe that the jail sentence – albeit two years, will serve as a deterrent to other corrupt politicians. For this group of people, such a ruling renews the hope in the nation’s judiciary as an arbiter of the ‘rule of law’. Secondly, we have the ‘pessimists’. The pessimists are of the view that sentencing Chief Bode George to two years imprisonment for a N84 billion fraud is a mere ‘slap on the wrist’ and makes mockery of the judicial system. In fact, such people are of the opinion that the PDP chieftain will probably have the sentence reduced on appeal, after which he can relax and enjoy his ‘booty’.

And thirdly, we have the ‘conspiracy theorists’. The conspiracy theorists are of the view that the sentence is more or less a ‘smokescreen’ to create a distraction so that the Oligarchy can carry on with its business of ‘do nothing’ and protection highly placed powerful individuals from prosecution. And of the course, the recent action of the Attorney-General in the case of James Ibori and Co lends further credence to their view. They refused to get carried away by the euphoria of court judgement because they are not convinced (and rightly so!) that the anti-corruption campaign of the Yar’Adua administration is ‘genuine’.

Whichever way one looks at the issue, the antecedents of this government provides enough evidence to substantiate any of the viewpoints. However for now I belong to the group of ‘optimists’. Yes I agree that two years imprisonment seems laughable, just as the former Edo State Governor Lucky Igbinedion was fined for N3.5m for embezzling N4.4bn! Yes I agree that Chief Bode George and the NPA Five can afford to live in Kirikiri Prison for two years while their proceeds from the N84bn continue to yield interest in their bank accounts. Yes I agree that there are probably bigger thieves, who seem untouchable roaming around the corridor of Aso Rock.

However, we can take delight in a few things. We need to be appreciative of the fact that, despite the rot in the nation’s judiciary, we still few judges in the country who are willing to stand up for the truth against all the odds. We must praise the courage and sagacity of Justice Oyewole in delivering this landmark judgement. Secondly, with the court ruling, Justice Oyewole has effectively nailed Chief Bode George’s political coffin. Whatever be the case, Bode George is now a ‘convict’. Whether he gets a commuted sentence at the Appeal Court is immaterial. This effectively means he cannot hold any political office for the rest of his life! As someone said, even if sleeps one night in Kirikiri maximum prison, that is enough. Also, we need not to look too far to dig up his criminal records, unlike Messrs Ibori and co. There will be safely kept at the Lagos High Court.

Overall it is worth noting one fact on the ongoing saga. Truth be told, the camp of corrupt individuals and treasury looters has no ethnic or religious barrier. You need not to belong to a particular ethnic group or religious sect to be a member. In fact, you need not speak the same local dialect. The unifying factor of corrupt minds is ‘self-enrichment’ and the common language is ‘money’. When people want to collude to loot the nation’s treasury they forget about that ethnic group. The ethnic diversity in the list of the convicted persons is very clear (Bode George, Aminu Dabo, Olusegun Abidoye, Abdullahi Tafida, Zanna Maidaribe and Sule Aliyu).

We need to point out this fact before some ethnic bigots’ say that the prosecution of Bode George is an ‘ethnic agenda’.


8 comments:

Brian said...

Unlike Eze goes to schoool which we grew up to know, it's now Bode goes to jail to learn his own lessons. It's now a different matter whether he'll actually stay in the jail and those guards won't let him out to go and be with his wives like Ade Bendel. In any cae, we'll know whether his own wife will get pregnant during this period too.

Anonymous said...

HUNNN...100 BILLION? NIGERIAN LEADERS ARE HEARTLESS. THE SAD THING IS THEY WILL NOT EVEN INVEST THE MONEY IN NIGERIA.

THE NIGERIAN SITUATION IS TERRIBLE.

Tesleem said...

All you have written is correct. But what I want us all to take note of is the fact that OLABODE GEORGE IS NOW AN EX-CONVICT... I pray that anytime we see his name in the papers now, it will come with is full address.. EX-Convict... Even his Children and Grand children will come to know this about him...I am particulary irked by the non chalant attitude he displayed through out the entire case.... Attimes, he can be found reading newspaper while his case is being debated in court..... How I wish we had more diligent investigators, so they can make the case for embezzlement against him...I weep for my country.

Anonymous said...

Seyi I belong to the same group with u, this is good BODE GOES TO SCH (JAIL)

Seyi said...

Thank you guys for stopping by.

Cheers
Seyi

The Dragon said...

Seyi,

Nice write up as usual!. We wait as the events of BODE GOES TO KIRIKIRI unfold. Am particularly concerned about what happens to the stolen money,please help us dig deeper to unravel the whereabout! A lot can be done with that kind of money in good hands.
Kindly find time to proof-read your article before posting...just a sincere advice.

Seyi said...

@The Dragon
Unfortunately, the prosecution couldn't provide enough evidence to support its claim that Bode George and the NPA 5 did enrich themselves, hence why their assets couldn't be confiscated.

But you are right...what happens to the stolen money? I would probably need the skills of a forensic expert to know where the loot are being stashed.

And thanks for the bringing the 'proof reading' to my notice. I will definitely work on it.

Cheers

Michael said...

Yes!! It is a landmark judgement in the history of Nigeria Judicial system, we need to start from a place and we have began, except that such sentence should have been 5years minimum and 20years maximum to send a climaxing signals to those behind the corruption saga that, there would not be anybody to be spared.

The prosecuting lawyer is a brilliant one.