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YEMI ADEBOWALE | Osinbajo, Audu and the War Against Corruption

Yemi Adebowale

The Prince Abubakar Audu soap opera in Kogi State is becoming intriguing. President Muhammadu Buhari was scheduled to present the party’s flag to the APC gubernatorial candidate during Audu’s recent grand rally but he tactically backed out; obviously because of the huge corruption allegations hanging over this Kogi prince. On Tuesday, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo went on the ignominious mission to Kogi to hand over APC’s flag to Audu at a rally in Okene. Osinbajo was there live and direct, handing over the party’s flag to a man that EFCC has spent over nine years doing battle with over alleged corruption; a man whom the EFCC said his alleged corruption was legendary during his tenure as Kogi State governor – 1999 to 2003. Our vice-president sang, danced and dined with the controversial Audu in Okene.

At the rally with the questionable politician, the vice-president was so proud to tell the crowd that Nigerians would soon witness new wave of change in all sectors of our national life. He said no stone would be left unturned in ensuring that the country returns to the path of greatness and advised mass participation in the change crusade. Haba, Osinbajo! Is this how the “Change” will be attained? By wining and dining with people enmeshed in corruption? How would you reconcile Audu’s alleged massive corruption with your regime’s so-called anti-corruption war? You have simply handed over your party’s flag to a man whom the EFCC has been fighting very hard to put in jail for years. A man that has been frustrating the anti-graft agency for many years.

My dear Osinbajo, I am sure that you are aware of EFCC’s recent letter to this government concerning Audu’s candidacy. This letter is in public domain. In case you are not aware, I will briefly go into details of the content. The EFCC in the letter signed by its former Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde said: “The candidate (Audu) was arraigned by the commission for abuse of office, theft of public funds and money laundering during his tenure as Executive Governor of Kogi State between 1999 and 2003 at both the Kogi High Court, Lokoja in 2006 and the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Apo Abuja in 2013.

“The Lokoja case was stalled for six years on the account of frivolous interlocutory applications by the accused person, which has taken us twice to the Supreme Court and eventually decided in the commission’s favour on 23rd November 2012. The trial effectively continued in 2013 with the filing of fresh charges in Abuja. Eight prosecution witnesses have so far given evidence and 166 exhibits tendered at the proceedings, while the case adjourned till 14th October 2015 for continuation of trial.

“We are genuinely concerned that the trial will be suspended for another four years if Prince Audu emerges as Kogi State Governor.

While not being unmindful of the constitutional presumption of innocence of all accused persons until proven guilty, we are nevertheless greatly concerned that swearing in of another accused person as Executive Governor in Nigeria may not be in consonance with the current anti-corruption policy of the new administration.”

Lamorde cautioned that allowing Audu to contest on the ruling party’s ticket would undermine the administration’s fight against corruption, especially in the eyes of the world: “This may negatively impact our perception by the international community and give rise to skepticism and even cynicism.”

On receiving the EFCC’s advisory letter, the SGF, Babachir Lawan, immediately wrote to the national secretariat of the APC the following day, urging it to take “necessary action.”

My dear vice-president, I hope the case against Audu is now very clear? By going to hand over your party’s flag to this Prince of Kogi on Tuesday, you have simply allowed yourself to be used to undermine the war against corruption. What kind of message are you sending to Nigerians about your party’s war against corruption? Your action in itself is corruption. You have clearly showed political naivety and soiled your hands. It was indeed a misadventure.

Culled from Thisday



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