A few months after the presidential inauguration in 2015, the Buhari administration launched a Jihad against corruption and applied itself to pseudo-reformist proselytising. The government caterwauled over how the Jonathan administration magicked the public treasury into exclusive pockets. The biggest news headline at the time was — STOLEN $2.1 BILLION ARMS FUND.
Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser (NSA), was the first casualty of the Buhari anti-corruption blitz. I witnessed how security operatives converged on his residence in July 2015; the intrigues, and his subsequent arrest. The government accused him of being the wheel from where corruption in the Jonathan administration gyrated. His office was accused of diverting $2.1 billion earmarked for arms purchase.
I followed Dasuki’s case at the court when the government still fancied having him tried judicially. I was present at all the sittings – I witnessed the hooplas and the hooties. The government soon afterwards jettisoned the law and went on vengeful rampage. It incarcerated Dasuki illegally, denying him the right to defend himself in court. And days segued into months and months into years – they held him.
It became clear that the administration’s war was not against corruption but against perceived adversaries. It also became obvious that the anti-corruption crusade was only to excite Nigerians and to deflect interrogation from the government’s lachrymal failings. In the case of Dasuki, who now appears to be over the hump, it is difficult to convince anyone that his incarceration was not a pursuit of vengeance. Subsequent events have ratified this position.
Also, as those accused of partaking in the general sleaze under Jonathan were put in the dock, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under Ibrahim Magu, dispatched its utilities to securing conviction in the media instead of the court. The arraignment of ex-public officers was well noised to whet the appetite of Nigerians who were hungry to see those who stole from them chalk up time and penitence in jail. But it ended there – just noise. Some of the ex-military officers whom the anti-graft agency charged for allegedly tucking into the $2.1 billion arms ‘scam’ are free men today, and with their cases sputtering in court.
The so-called recovered loot is now reported re-looted by the same agency hunting looters of the $2.1 billion and other sums. On Thursday night, the offices of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) were vandalised after the presidential panel probing Magu requested the transaction history of a Kaduna-based bureau de change (BDC). The panel was told that the BDC, which allegedly has links to the suspended acting chairman of the EFCC, has recently transacted businesses worth over N500 billion in different currencies — N336 billion, $435 million and €14 million, according to TheCable. Painful but not surprising.
We exist in a Dickensian society. Those entrusted with securing citizens against public theft are themselves crooks in Messianic raiment. The watchdogs are themselves bloodhounds and vampires.
Let me also add: Where is Babachir Lawal? Yes. The case of the former secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) has been sputtering in court this despite his indictment by the government he served.
Also, I recall there is a petition against Bola Tinubu, national leader of the APC, for alleged money laundering at the EFCC – filed by Concerned Nigerians led by Deji Adeyanju. Tinubu himself admitted transporting cash in bullion vans on the eve of the 2019 election to his house. But the anti-graft agency under Magu did not move a muscle to investigate the allegation.
In fact, when Magu was asked about the petition against Jagaban by a journalist, he snubbed the inquiry, and said ‘’next question, please?’’ And there are other members of the APC and those in the Buhari fraternity who have corruption allegations hanging on their necks, but the EFCC under the suspended acting chairman did not crack up a case against them.
At this point, Nigerians need to ask, what happened to the $2.1 billion arms probe? How much has been recovered? How many persons have been convicted in connection to the sleaze?
They deserve to know.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.Twitter:@FredrickNwabufo