Being the opening remarks by Mr. Debo Adeniran, the Executive Chairman of Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL at the inaugural CACOL Occasional Roundtable Discourse, CORD held on April 19th,2017 at Social Justice Centre, Falana & Falana’s Chambers, 25, Adekunle Fajuyi Way, GRA, Ikeja Lagos.
On behalf of the members and Board of Governors of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, I welcome you all to this occasion of the inaugural CACOL Occasional Roundtable Discourse, CORD. We deeply appreciate the honour bestowed on us, demonstrated by the presence of everyone here today. We say, a big thank you, to all for coming.
It is our pleasure to have the distinguished presence of patriotic Nigerians at this event gathered to discuss the state of our country; the anti-corruption drive, the strife for open leadership and good governance. We are overwhelmed by the measure of patriotism evidenced by your presence.
Prior this time, CORD had been in existence as a whatsapp group where discussions on national issues take place perpetually. The initiative has gathered so much momentum that we see a need to bring the discussion perpetually going on the platform in the virtual world to bold relief for the benefit of deepening our intellectual intercourse with a view to aggregate opinions on moving our country forward.
The theme of the event is not hinged on the losses in the fight against corruption encountered recently by the Federal Government through its anti-graft agencies at the level of the courts. We have for long been worried with the plethora of corruption cases which litter our judicial system. CACOL and so many Nigerians have witnessed uncountable cases of corruption that are yet to be legally resolved, and this is in spite of some cases being over a decade old. This, we find very incorrect and disturbing.
In jiffy, recently, the FG through its anti-graft and security agencies lost some prominent cases. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC lost two, the Department of State Services, DSS and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC lost one each. The case against Patience Jonathan, former first lady, where a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos unfroze her $5 million account in Skye Bank and that of Godsday Orubebe, former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, who had been charged to court by ICPC, in 2016 for N1.97 billion fraud, bothering on the diversion of funds meant for the compensation of owners of property on the Eket Urban section of the East-West road in Eket, AkwaIbom State are instructive enough for the discerning minds. Orubebe was discharged and acquitted on Tuesday, as the ICPC withdrew the case against him under unclear circumstances.
Also Justice Adeniyi Ademola, his wife and one Mr. Joe Agi who were charged by the DSS to a Federal High Court at the FCT, Maitama, Abuja on an 18 count charge got dismissed and finding them guilty of a single count charge. There has also been unduly delay of justice as in the case of Mohammed Adoke, a former Attorney General, in the Malabu Oil Scam. Outright and continual manipulation of the judicial system seems to be our story when it comes to corruption cases.
It is being argued in public discourse that corruption cases being prosecuted by the FG have not achieved convictions based mainly on lack of diligence and substantive evidences. CACOL agrees with this to an extent, but we refuse to be deceived by the deceptions of a government that was apparently conceived on the basis of deceit.
Dr. Peter Odili’s perpetual injunction against prosecution, Joshau Dariye’s over 9 years old corruption case and the Halliburton/Siemens scandal have defied logic when we speak of the judicial processes. This is why we believe all the arms of government are complicit in the situation we are in. The Judiciary is as soaked in corruption as the every other arm, making it a very sad commentary our situation as a country, given that, that arm of government is supposed to be the last bastion of hope for the masses.
Despite all the brouhaha that witnessed the arrest of judges by the DSS, the pontifications of members of the Bench that, that the arm of government could cleanse itself of corruption, we see today that the cases that are in court which emanated from the saga are either being foot-dragged on, or consciously being ‘killed’ silently. This is exactly what has been characteristic of our judicial system where it is always easier for the ‘camel to pass through the eye of the needle’ than for suspected criminals answer to their charges and where perversion of justice is a pastime.
At the end, it is the ordinary Nigerians that are losing where governance has failed or is failing. Obviously, Nigerians need to rescue and take back their country given the foregoing background. So, the question is ‘what is to be done’ to take back the country from this glaringly unrepentant and incurably corrupt ruling class beyond agonizing?
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL had always stated that the subsisting system is profoundly corrupt and cannot cleanse itself, and that it is the bounden duty of Nigerians to mobilize and organize themselves in their different social formations to salvage the country with the main of changing the subsisting system.
The struggles for anti-corruption, socio-economic and political emancipation can only be carried to fruition by the Nigerians, that is, the vast majority who are the victims of the present belligerent order. At times, we are wrong when we say the buck stops on the President’s or the government’s desk, because, the truth is that the buck stops at the desk of the people who institute government in the first place. It is time to put the country first! Our destiny lies in our hands!! We must organize and mobilize all right thinking Nigerians to resist the slope down to the abyss the present political ruling class are hell-bent on taking us down to.
History beckons on us all beyond the shallow and selfish interests of the political class to salvage Nigeria from the path to perdition. We conclude by thanking you all again for honouring our invitation. We remain undauntedly committed to the cause to make Nigeria corruption-free and a better place to be. We enjoin everyone present to contribute to the robustness of our discourse.
Long Live, Lagos State!
Long Live, Nigeria!!