BUHARI GIVE THEM THE NOOSE: Hang The Looters - Leystradamus.Com.Ng

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

BUHARI GIVE THEM THE NOOSE: Hang The Looters

We should as well string up and hang the looters of our commonwealth; "at least those who steal humongous amounts". The Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Mr Danjuma Barde, in calling for the imposition of capital punishment on corrupt public officers in the country said: “We live in a funny country, where people steal N1,000 and they are put in jail for years, while some other people will steal billions of naira and use that same billions to escape justice”.
"If somebody steal from one million to N100 million they should cut his hand and those who steal from one billion naira above should be hanged." Frightening, ehn!

I understand the frustration of the honourable minority whip, and indeed the frustration of the NLC and all others who have called for the imposition of capital punishment for looters of our common patrimony.” You would understand if any of your family, relatives or friends have ever been under the yoke of tyranny of the law or its punishment”. “You would understand if you have ever seen the depth of hopelessness amongst the downtrodden as the big man and big thieves strut around in indecent opulence and rank impunity”. The U.S .secretary of State, John Kerry amplified this in Davos, when he said; “There is absolutely nothing more demoralizing, disempowering to any citizen than the belief the system is rigged against them. Corruption is a radicalizer because it destroys faith in legitimate authority.”

I have eagerly awaited the President’s Bills to the National Assembly that will seek to enact policies that would plug corruption loopholes, evolve strong institutions to fight graft and prescribe appropriate punishment for the corrupt “big man”. I have had no doubt that this will happen because the loopholes and the rigged institutions of investigation,prosecution and judgement are in summation “a big joke”. This President obviously is not joking over the issue of corruption.

This is a society that the elite through government and its organs do not permit the poor or downtrodden to be deviant.The elistist cocooned mindset is set to at all costs protect their own,their property and their dignitas.How else can you explain the lopsidedness and impunity in the separate application of law and punishment.There has to be a “change”.

Have we forgotten Justice Jide Falola, the Osun state High Court judge, who in December 2014, sentenced two persons; Olowookere Segun and Morakinyo Sunday to death for stealing fowls? We must not forget that the magnanimous Justice Falola recommended that the governor can decide to commute the death sentence to 10 years imprisonment, considering the convicts’ ages. "What a generous judge".

Oh wait! Lets also remember the staff of the popular eatery, Sweet Sensation, Oluremi Olayinka, who in April 2015 was sentenced to 266 years imprisonment by an Ogun state High Court for stealing N8 million from her employers. How dared she steal from “big men”?
Only recently, An Ikeja High court presided over by Justice Lateefa Okunnu, convicted and sentenced a Nigerian undergraduate of Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan University, Malaysia, Hope Olusegun Aroke, to 24 years imprisonment over an internet scam involving N25 million. Certainly the joke is not lost on you; "as here is a young man who stole from outside the country and is sentenced to 24 years in jail whilst those who steal Nigeria’s future away are granted bails (that is if they are ever tried), and rewarded with higher appointments to enable them steal more”.

I have chosen these 3 diverse cases from a litany of many to highlight the inherent selective application of law and punishment on the citizenry “who dare to cross the big man”. A visit to prisons across the country will reveal the mind boggling extent of this tyranny. Now, Juxtapose this with the thieving“big men”, who have managed to see inside a court. I say managed, because you must bear in mind that since the financial crimes fight began from the advent of the EFCC and ICPC,the “fight against the big man has been epileptic at best”.

Corruption trials that have managed to go beyond the plea stage, have dragged on for so many years after first arraignment in court it is ludicrous. Many ex-government office holders, who had been accused of corruption, are still strutting around in opulence. Some of them are still exalted as Governors and some in the National Assembly making laws for the country. 
Little wonder that instead of such “An Assembly”, to busy itself with higher standards of probity, accountability and making laws to add bite to the corruption fight, they still continue with the impunity mindset as reflected in the senate’s proposal of a draconian law that would stifle speech and make it a crime to criticize “big men” on social media. Such deviant critics stand the chance, if convicted, to be sentenced to a seven year prison term or a N5million fine.What a joke, (Thank God for some conscientious ones in their midst).

A summary look at the “successful trials” of our “big men” will paint a picture. 
Chief Bode George, arraigned on a 163-count charge (truncated to a 68-count charge) that bordered on the misappropriation of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) funds to the tune of N85 billion, and inflation of contract costs was convicted and sentenced to concurrent term of two years imprisonment. "We all know what happened there”. Former Inspector General of Police, Mr Tafa Balogun, who pleaded guilty to eight counts of money laundering charges to the tune of N16 billion in 2005 was sentenced to six months imprisonment.

An Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Talba Mohammed, sentenced John Yakubu Yusufu, who stood trial on charges of stealing N32.8billion in the Police Pension scam, to two years on each of three charges.He then offered him a go-home option of a fine. Mr. Yusufu accepted the judge’s “most generous offer”, gave up N750,000 , and strolled into freedom with the rest of his loot. A former Managing Director of the defunct Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, who was convicted in 2010 for banking fraud, was sentenced to only six months imprisonment.A term she served in a highbrow hospital on Victoria Island, Lagos.

In Benin city, Justice Abubakar Liman convicted a younger brother of a former Governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbinedion, Michael, of laundering N25bn belonging to the state. Michael was sentenced to two years imprisonment with an option of N3m fine.Of course big brother, Lucky Igbinedion had done the same dance previously when he struck a plea bargain deal.

“Collaborators,crooked lawyers and generous judges will hide under the much touted constitutionally guaranteed right of an accused person to fair hearing-while doing their abracadabra”. The actual fact is that the common pattern in high profile corruption cases reveal a systematic connivance of the above mentioned to frustrate and thwart justice. These people must come to realize that, “law was made for man and not man for law”. Mr. Magu,the EFFC chair fondly called the General,gives me hope when he said recently; “the fight against corruption will be total and unsparing”. 
I have no doubt that those who question the “selectiveness”in the corruption fight will not have long to wait.Buhari is Buhari and is too old and too fundamental a Nationalist to change.Those who have questions to answer through their past associations cannot hope that half spirited mouthings of support they offer now "due to their new association" will save them. Afterall, joining a new group does not absolve them of their past dealings in the old group. These “food is ready politicos” jumping ship thinking to escape will have a rude shock.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, was America’s response to debilitating organized crime. We must have laws that will bring down dreadful punishment on those who loot our coffers. As a sociologist, it is ingrained for me to relate behavioural patterns. "Is there not a correlation between the man who steals pension funds, the parent who dies or is impoverished and the youth compelled by hopelessness to steal a fowl, steal from sweet sensation and steal from a foreigner"? 
As an avowed Nationalist, I abhor anything that “corrupts” the idea and promise of Nigeria. There can be no doubt though,that the Pension thief is a purveyor of indirect death and impoverishment. That goes for the Generals and their ilk who steal and mitigate the ability of troops to defend themselves. They are killers.Stealing money meant for childrens education, road building, power generation et al are all grave crimes with attendant spiral effects. As such like the RICO act, our laws should be reviewed to mete out grave punishments.

Bernard Madoff, the American stockbroker, investment advisor, and financier of the Ponzi scheme fame was sentenced to 150 years in prison, the maximum allowed.All property and stolen funds were confiscated. Even his accounting front man and auditor, David Friehling, who cooperated with the prosecution and got a plea bargain deal still had to serve time and forfeit property and money.That is how laws should work.

The led will always follow the example of the leader and so the blueprint should be to go after the leaders - "the big men". Corruption is expensive to fight and we must get the maximum return for the investment.There is a “domino effect in going after the “big men”. As I conclude I’d like to say that on a personal note, I do not endorse capital punishment. Appropriate and deterring sentences will suffice. The President needs our support. I will support him.Nationalists, support your President.

THESE ARE THE WORDS OF
Victor Ikhatalor
Author of #MyTribeNigeria

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