The Court of Appeal sitting in Makurdi, the Benue State capital,Saturday, nullified the electoral victory of former Senate President, David Mark, and ordered a fresh election to be held within 90 days.
The court's judgment came as a result of the petition brought before it by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Daniel Onjeh, over the 2015 election for the Benue South senatorial district.
Mark had represented the district on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since 1999.
It was a Friday evening at the international wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) and 20 lucky customers of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc were eagerly waiting for their flight. These were the people who received their Western Union and MoneyGram transfer at UBA during the UBA Remittance Awoof Promo.
Their destination was Dubai. Courtesy of UBA, they were going on an all -expense paid 3-day trip to the world’s holiday city. For many, it was their time of traveling out of the country and they were excitedly looking forward to it.
One of the lucky customers Benita Ojeh from Asaba, who has never been to Lagos before the trip, could not hide her excitement; “this is more like a miracle to me. I never believed this would ever happen to me. I am immensely grateful to UBA and most importantly very proud that a bank could reward a customer with a dream trip like this”.
In Dubai, the 20 lucky customers were stayed the prestigious J5 Rimal Rotana Apartments, with each customer allocated his or her own room. During their stay they had opportunity to visit many great sites in Dubai including the Burj Khalifa, the tallest man made structure in the world.
The 20 luck customers on the trip had emerged as winners in the Remittance Awoof Promotion organized by the bank to reward customers that had received remittances through MoneyGram and Western Union from any UBA business office across the country. 60 other customers were rewarded with beautiful gift items.
The winners were selected based on money transfers through MoneyGram and Western Union at the bank within the period of January and August 2015.
The trip is part of the bank's efforts to reward loyalty, give back to the society and impact the lives of individuals that carry out business with the bank.
Welcoming the customers back to Nigeria on November 17, 2015 Directorate Head, Public Sector Group, Marketing, Mr. Oliver Alawuba, said UBA is more than happy to reward loyal customers because UBA believes that loyal customers deserve to be rewarded.
He assured that UBA will continue to “reward customers who remain loyal to the bank and do repeat business with us.”
“I am so excited. I have no words to say how I feel now after this trip. All I can say is thank you UBA for making this happen to me. I will never forget my experience in Dubai. It is an experience I will share with my children and it is great to know that UBA made it happen” said Benita Ojeh, who said this was also the first time she is travelling out of the country.
Already, UBA says plans are at an advanced stage to roll out another Awoof promotion in January of 2016.
“Customers who missed this trip should watch out. It could be their turn to have an unforgettable holiday experience for being loyal customers of UBA,” said Mr. Alawuba.
In The Spotlight
It is now just over two weeks since the President swore in his newly appointed ministers and assigned portfolios to them. With that , the six-month long wait for the constitution of the Federal Executive Council and the criticisms that trailed it came to a close. What next then for the regime? The common unsolicited advice to the new ministers is, to borrow the cliché, to hit the ground running. The problem some of us have with this advice however is where the ministers should be running to and what is pursuing them.
This is why I feel that the immediate challenge facing the Buhari regime following the appointment of ministers and the constitution of the Federal Executive Council is developing a grand philosophy – a roadmap if you like - that will guide the government and its functionaries. I don’t think there is anything wrong in tasking the new ministers to come up with such a grand philosophy in the light of present realities. In fact when the APC organized a two day Policy Dialogue (May 20-21 2015) that brought together leading experts in various walks of life from within and outside the country to determine the policy direction for the then incoming regime, many of us hailed it as an early indication that the incoming government was going to be hands-on. Unfortunately nothing more was heard about the Policy Dialogue or the resolutions from it. Rather the policy Dialogue proving the Buhari administration with a roadmap and policy desiderata, the nation was for six months ruled by the President’s body language.
Articulating a grand philosophy or mantra for the regime is not going to be as simple as it seems. Certainly it cannot be the APC’s current mantra of ‘change’ because such is usually the slogan of opposition parties angling to unseat a government or party in power. In 2008 ‘change’ was Obama’s slogan as his Democratic Party sought to unseat the Republicans. In the country’s Second Republic (1979-1983), the Unity Party of Nigeria, Nigerian People’s Party and a faction of the People’s Redemption Party sought to form an electoral alliance under the name of Progressive Parties Alliance with ‘change’ as its slogan. The collaborating parties were united by their desire to unseat the ruling National Party of Nigeria and the government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari at the centre. Since APC is now the ruling party, it will be an oxymoron to keep brandishing the ‘change’ mantra. Or is it calling on Nigerians to change it? This is besides the fact that a slogan does not necessarily equal to a guiding philosophy.
Though Buhari has said he would like to be remembered as a President who fought corruption to a standstill in Nigeria, I seriously doubt if he will succeed in this regard. There are a number of reasons for this: First, is that his government has not bothered to define what it means by ‘corruption’. In fact by the time we are through with the definitional problem and come to realize that corruption does not stop at embezzlement of public funds but also include issues of cronyism, cheating in exams, nepotism and even lying, our attitude to fighting corruption will have changed. Second, is that there is nothing to suggest that the government recognizes that corruption is merely a symptom of a more fundamental social malaise and not the main trouble with the country – as some people wrongly assume. If the government has realized this, it would have been seen in the sort of tools it wants to use to fight the ailment. Hopefully now that the ministers have been appointed, this will be addressed - starting with a proper definition of the problem. Since the incidence of corruption appears to be on the increase despite the fact that virtually every regime in the country has made fighting corruption one of the cornerstones of its policies, we can surmise that previous strategies or tools for fighting the ailment have failed and that we need something new.
My suspicion is that the fear of sanction that Buhari’s body language engenders among public officials will be successful in driving impunity – as opposed to corruption- underground but cannot defeat either impunity or corruption - unless the regime recognizes that corruption is merely the symptom of a more fundamental social malaise. I think the government will be boxing itself into a tight corner if it wants to be assessed only or largely on how far it has fought corruption. Corruption is so endemic in the country and manifests in diverse ways that it can only be a generational fight. Therefore the President needs a broader philosophy under which it can subsume the current wars against both corruption and terrorism, (which I also do not believe can be won within the short frame the President has set for it). It is important to bear in mind that modern terrorism has been with us since the 19th century when Anarchists embarked on a murdering spree of several Western leaders, including the assassination of the American President William McKinley in September 1901. Terrorism has undergone several mutations before its current religion-inspired phase which started in 1979. Each phase has lasted about 40 years.
One advantage of the regime developing a broader philosophy is that it will leave room for it to be assessed favourably in areas it may leave a positive mark. No government succeeds in all sectors when objective metrics are used to assess it.
My suggestion is that whatever grand philosophy the government will articulate as its roadmap must include reconciliation of Nigerians across the fault lines and reaching out to the various groups and individuals that have become alienated from the Nigerian state and have consequently de-linked from it into various primordial identities, often regarding the state as an enemy. Unless faith in the Nigeria project is deliberately recreated using state instruments, any solution thrown at the country’s numerous problems will only politicize existing fault lines and exacerbate the problems they were meant to solve. And it is unhelpful for ‘situational patriots’ to accuse anyone who complains of being unpatriotic.
Between Lai Mohamed and Dan-Ali
The new Information Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed reportedly reminded government-owned media organizations – NTA, FRCN and NAN- which always complained of financial woes, of the link between credibility and profitability. The minister reportedly accused them of throwing professionalism to the wind and showing utter disregard for editorial independence in their media coverage. If by these admonitions, the new Minister is serving a notice that under him professionalism will be restored to these entities and that all political parties – both opposition and the ruling party – will be given equal media coverage, it will be a most welcome development. Hopefully the Minister was not just referring to the way he felt these public media outlets treated his party, the APC, when it was the opposition party.
In another meeting with social media influencers, Lai Mohamed reportedly promised that the government would not tamper with the freedom of the social media – even as he tasked them to be self-regulating. Another good start for a Minister some of us feared might be too combative to a Minister.
In contrast to what one would call a promising start by Lai Mohammed, the new Minister of Defence Brigadier General (rtd) Monsur Dan-Ali chose to start on a rather controversial note by re-opening old wounds concerning Buhari’s certificate, which the PDP made a campaign issue during the elections. Speaking to officers of the Ministry of Defence Dan-Ali reportedly blamed the immediate past Chief of Army Staff (CoAS), Lt-Gen. Kenneth Minimah (rtd) and the Nigerian Army under him for allegedly not showing respect to President Muhammadu Buhari during his WAEC certificate controversy. One hopes that this rather disappointing start by the new Defence Minister will not be a signal to a witch-hunt. It is not for nothing that some people have called election campaigns “war without bullets. In the USA, there are groups who still passionately argue that Obama was not born as an American citizen and therefore was not qualified to contest for the country’s presidency – despite the fact that Obama had publicly displayed his birth certificates that showed he was born in Hawaii.
In The Spotlight
Colonel Sambo Dasuki, was former National Security Adviser
It is not uncommon for cowards to stage different con tactics to escape all responsibilities for their criminal acts. The most popular and the most successful one is feigning illness.
Lu Xiang, a Chinese anti-graft prosecutor once told a Chinese Court that corrupt officials often fake illness to dodge trial. Since 2009, Lu Xiang has handled more than 90 major corruption cases, 17 of which involved bureau-level cadres, 19 at departmental level, and 47 cases involving people who had received one million yuan (about $1.26 million) or more in bribes.
Alan Knight and his wife Helen of Sketty, Swansea, UK came up with a cock-and-bull story to dodge justice. Knight tried to dodge trial for conning a vulnerable elderly neighbour out of his 41,000 British pounds savings after he was charged to court in September 2012. The wife Helen Knight, claimed her husband couldn’t stand trial because he was a quadriplegic.
She even wrote Prime Minister David Cameron to support her campaign for cops to drop fraud charges against her husband because he was in a coma. But police found Knight, 48, had been on family vacation and shopping trips during the two years when he was supposed to be in a coma. Alan and his wife were sent to jail for pretending Alan was in a “vegetative state” to escape trial. Alan was jailed for an extra 14 months in addition to a four-and-a-half year term for fraud.
In 2012 in the Philippines, Renato Corona, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines was convicted for failure to declare several high value assets including $2.4 million in foreign currency deposits on his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN). Corona’s vain attempt to feign illness did not succeed in securing his release. The Senate sitting as the Impeachment Court, voted 20 to convict and 3 to acquit. Corona was the first impeachable official to be successfully impeached and convicted in Philippine’s history.
V.D. Savarkar, the brain behind the failed attempt assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, on January 1948 escaped with an acquittal on the basis of feign illness.
Nigeria is a nation where the big fish swims to escape. Our history has shown that no high ranking Nigerian government official, minister, or senior political appointee has ever served commensurate prison time for corruption, while anti-corruption activists often face harassment and arrest.
It’s no secret that those the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have successfully prosecuted in corruption scandals tend to be low-level public employees whose conviction is unlikely to change the way the system works. Cases against high-level officials and politicians tend not to proceed at all, or are, at best, stalled, largely due to political interference, intimidation, and the purchase of judges. Mr. Saraki’s case is a painful reminder of a big fish swimming undisturbed. These corrupt officials have one thing in common: they use their group’s commitment to self-preservation and self-promotion to their advantage, as a cover for their crimes.
The March 28 democratic revolution that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power is fighting corruption terrorism on all fronts in Nigeria. The flamboyant former petroleum minister Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, former National Security Adviser Mr. Sambo Dasuki, and former EFCC Chairman Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde claim they are all too sick to face trial or scrutiny. Mrs. Alison-Madueke is “sick of breast cancer” and she’s receiving treatment in London, UK. For now, she cannot face trial at home. Mr. Lamorde jetted out of the country to escape appearing before the Senate committee on ethics, privileges, and public petitions a few days ago. He was accused of diversion of funds. His lawyer said he was abroad for medical treatment. Mr. Dasuki was not so lucky.
Mr. Dasuki was first arrested in July by the State Security Service (SSS) after a prolonged siege to his Abuja home. He was charged to court with the illegal possession of firearms and for stealing $2 billion meant for military equipment to fight Boko Haram. Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), the lead attorney for Mr. Dasuki pleaded that his client’s passport be released to allow him to travel for three weeks for treatment of his “budding cancer.” Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court Abuja granted Mr. Dasuki’s request for his passport to be released to enable him receive treatment abroad.
Angry at the re-arrest of Mr. Dasuki after granting him his request to travel, Justice Ademola fumed: “Court order must be obeyed. What is wrong in the defendant traveling and coming back to face trial? Only a fit person can stand trial and investigation. My own orders will not be flouted”.
Now that Mr. Dasuki has realised that the net is closing in on him, he too has resorted to feigning illness. It is simply not plausible that this is a real sudden illness striking a major public figure. The fake illness is essentially to neutralise any further investigation; better still, to stall the case till the second coming of Christ. This is an act of desperation to escape justice.
The claim that Mr. Dasuki is sick of cancer is a filthy lie. He’s not alone in the game to con 170 million Nigerians. These con artists operate through lies, vile deceptions, and murderous fraud. The evidence of their ‘illness’ is faked – and this is particularly revealed in the timing of their sickness. Agreed, any one could fall sick at any time. Sickness doesn’t give short or long notices. Mr. Dasuki’s “sickness” is more of a planned, coached, and rehearsed excuse than a coincidence. It’s a cock-and-bull story!
How come throughout the Jonathan years when these suspects were junketing all over the world, building castles all over the place, stashing money in known and unknown bank accounts, wining and dining with the rich and the famous, they didn’t complain of mere headache, talk more of cancer? Dasuki’s story is simply not believable, not to any degree.
If the 86-year old former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could stand trial on his hospital stretcher, there is no reason why any of the accused could not be brought to court dead or alive. As part of his war on corruption, President Buhari by executive power should stop all politicians from going overseas for medical treatment. They must be treated at home. After all, they are responsible for the sordid state of our healthcare. Many poor Nigerians die of cancer and other diseases everyday due to the lack of treatment. Let the wicked and corrupt politicians have a taste of the hemlock being forced down the throat of impoverished Nigerians.
There is every effort by some people, especially those who are related to Dasuki by way of treasury looting, to give credence to his fraud. For example, the star of EkitiGate, the ex-danfo driver governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose came to the defence of Dasuki: “The department of State Services (DSS) placement of former NSA under house arrest despite court order that his passport be released so that he can travel abroad for medical treatment is wicked, inhuman, dictatorial and a clear attempt to deny him of his rights to life as enshrined in the constitution of Nigerian.”
Nigerians, don’t be surprised to see Mr. Dasuki staring at us with those vicious, soul-less eyes, laughing in his gluttony while perfecting another concocted story to escape trial. Regardless of the outcome of corruption cases against the corrupt politicians who feign illness in order to flee from justice, their legacy is one of wretchedness and filthy corruption, whether dead, alive, or in limbo.
These wanton destroyers of our economy and of the common people are nothing other than cowards who would fake their death. It’s all as a means to ensure that they to escape any scrutiny and any trial for their high crimes against humanity.