Rumble in the jungle as corruption fights back By JOSEF OMOROTIONMWAN


IF  only we knew that the entire world was watching us, we would have realised that it is too early to begin to derail the anti-graft war, which we all agreed upon a few months back.

This is the very nature of most wars – they start small like the proverbial madman’s fire, where he claims to have only struck a match here; but he knows nothing about the conflagration over there.

Except we act fast, the theatricals we see today are capable of many perhaps unintended consequences – our war against corruption is at risk; and our once-revered institution of the National Assembly may also be consumed.

At the higher echelon of our society, we see a grand design to start a scattered fight that will be raging in multiple fronts at the same time. The fight will be so scattered that it will become uncontrollable. The emerging scenario portends a frightening glimpse:

There is an alleged case of forgery of the Senate Rules against a section of the Senate leadership; The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is questioning Mrs. Toyin Saraki, wife of the Senate President, over some stupendous wealth accumulation when her husband was the Governor of Kwara State; Senator Godswill Akpabio is currently being investigated by the EFCC over allegation of corruption while he was the Governor of Akwa-Ibom State.

Like the case of engineering the engineer instead of his engine, a petition against the EFCC boss, Ibrahim Lamorde, over corruption charges suddenly lands in the Senate. A fast probe is ordered into the petition; in a manner suggestive of people running away from an approaching tsunami; the Senate Committee starts hearing the petition and in the meantime, the Committee walks due process on its head.

This has irked some of the Senators and there is a big division in the ranks of the Senators. Suddenly, there is now an unholy alliance between Senator Akpabio with his group of PDP Senate Caucus on the one hand, and the Senate APC Unity Forum, on the other. The alliance is against the Senate Committee probe on Lamorde. And so suddenly, too, we see another very unholy alliance between Lamorde and Akpabio. Both men are now on the same page and a possible plan here could be some horse-trading on the Nation’s fortunes.

Apart from the fact that the petition against Lamorde failed the test of due process, it was like spitting into the mouth of a man who was already intent on vomiting.

Apparently, Akpabio saw a window of opportunity in the ensuing confusion and built a connection supportive of the old aphorism that an enemy’s enemy is a  friend – all in a conspiracy against Nigeria! The foregoing narrative is what we call rumble in the jungle.

These are politicians who are yet to know that it is not always smart to be smart. Nigeria must act quickly to stop the looming embezzlement of public trust. None of our fights against corruption shall be lost to intrigues!

For a start, Lamorde must step aside immediately to allow for proper investigation of the petition against him.

Again, Lamorde has ostensibly outstayed his welcome in the EFCC, having held sway since 23 November 2011. The point has been reached where he might even be unable to answer the supplementary questions. For instance, was this the same man under whom the EFCC went to sleep during the Jonathan era only to engage the speed gear as soon as Buhari came in? History shows no mercy for duplicity. His continued stay in the EFCC would clearly be a hindrance.

We must quickly shop for a no-nonsense replacement for him. This replacement shall be someone who understands the nature of the war before us and work as such – We must kill corruption before it kills us!

The Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, should have known that a conflict of interest situation was waiting by the corner to ambush him – sitting in judgment over the case of the man in whose hands was the case of corruption against his wife?

We question the rationale behind the Senate constituting itself into a court of first instance in the fight against corruption. Evidently, the accusations against Lamorde are weighty enough to warrant thorough investigations. This is a case in which the Chief Executive Officer, Panic Alert Security System, PASS, Dr. George Uboh, is alleging that Lamorde failed to remit over N2.051 trillion recovered by the anti-graft agency between 2004 and 2013 to the federation account. Uboh also speaks of the diversion of another sum of more than N1 trillion by the EFCC.

Uboh’s petition should be sent to where it rightly belongs – the EFCC, an EFCC without Lamorde. The undue haste with which the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions went into the matter bespeaks the Committee as acting out a script that had been written elsewhere. Still more ludicrous, and indeed nauseating, is the fact that a particular Senator who appeared more like a back-man, and stayed glued, to  Mrs. Saraki during her visit to the EFCC is now in the frontline of Lamorde’s prosecution (or persecution?) in the “Senate court”. Where is justice coming from?

In the particular case of the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Akpabio, the EFCC is investigating him on series of petitions by the Abuja-based Law Firm of Leo Ekpenyong and Associates, alleging that while he was the Governor of Akwa-Ibom State, he abused his office by stealing public funds from which he built sprawling estates in many parts of the country.

In this apparent rumble in the jungle, nothing shall be left to chance. Every case must be religiously prosecuted!

Lest we forget, Uboh’s conclusion is instructive: “If I am right, arrest Lamorde; and if I am wrong arrest me”. We are reminded that it is not a crime to render service to one’s fatherland. Those false alarmists out there whose stock-in-trade is to deliberately smear others who serve their people must also be adequately punished.