By Dr. Dons Eze
We have been waiting to see how our no nonsense, corruption-fighting President, Muhammadu Buhari, is going to handle the case of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the Gubernatorial Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the forthcoming September 19, Edo State governorship election, who is currently carrying a N700 million corruption baggage.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in suit No. FHC/BE21C/ 2016, filed an eight-count charge against Pastor Ize-Iyamu and other defendants, over alleged illegal receipt of public funds to the tune of N700 million for the purpose of the 2015 general elections.
Ize-Iyamu and his co-defendants were further accused of conspiring among themselves to commit the offence in March 2015, and of taking the money without executing any contract awarded.
Ize-Iyamu was the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2016 Edo State governorship election, which he lost, and has now decamped to the APC to contest the same position, in the exercise scheduled for September, 19, 2020.
At the last hearing of the case in July this year, before a Federal High Court sitting in Benin City, the matter was adjourned to October 15, 2020, for further hearing, no doubt, after the Edo State gubernatorial election must have been won and lost.
The implication is that if Ize-Iyamu loses the September 19 gubernatorial election, the trial may or may not continue on October 15, but if he wins the election, the corruption allegation will eventually die a permanent death, since the Nigerian Constitution would have conferred on him immunity from criminal prosecution, as the elected Governor of Edo State. This is a very nice strategy.
But we still did not lose hope. We still looked forward to our President, the intolllerant, anti-corruption crusader, springing surprises at the appropriate time. We knew how passionate our President was in the fight against corruption, and believed that this time around he would never allow anybody with tainted records to stand for any election, particularly in his own political party.
But we were wrong. To our greatest surprise, we saw our hard-fighting anti-corruption President handing the flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to Pastor Ize-Iyamu to contest the September 19, Edo State gubernatorial election. Ize-Iyamu was accompanied to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa where President Buhari gave him the flag by the corruption-stinking Abdullahi “Gandollar” of Kano State.
We surrendered. If President Buhari was indeed very serious in fighting corruption, he would have done what President Obasanjo did to Chibuike Amaechi in 2007, by telling Ize-Iyamu that “this case get K-leg”, and will not give him the APC flag.
But he did not do that. He closed his ears to the corruption allegations against Ize-Iyamu and handed the APC flag to him. This is in keeping with what Adams Oshiomole, the sacked APC National Chairman, had earlier told us that “if you join the APC, your sins are forgiven”.
I know that they would be telling us that Ize-Iyamu’s case is in court, and therefore they could not do anything about it. But when have they started obeying court orders? What of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, whose case was in court and yet, they proceeded to sack him? There are so many other cases like that They only obey the courts when it suits them.
In any case, which corruption case involving APC members have they prosecuted to its logical end? Is the “Grasscutter” former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), James Lawal, still not walking the streets a free man, after they had reluctantly took him to court on corruption allegations?
After the initial gra-gra, we no longer hear much about the corruption allegations involving the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, who is currently facing a Presidential Panel. But why even set up a panel to investigate corruption allegations against Magu, instead of charging him to court like many others?
When corruption allegation was brought against a former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun, did former President Olusegun Obasanjo waste any time in dealing with the issue?
Look at the case involving Abdullahi Ganduje, Governor of Kano State, who was caught on camera stuffing dollars inside his pockets, what did our corruption-fighting President do? Nothing. He simply shut his eyes and closed his ears.
Look at the sordid acts being revealed at the on going public hearing in the House of Representatives involving the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). What did our President do? We are still waiting. Better, let nobody try to open the can of worms in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the stench will surely drive everybody away.
Please, let nobody come and tell me that he is fighting corruption in Nigeria. I will fight with the person.