The shame of Ibori’s trials, incarceration (2)
APART from Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) and Alhaji Shehu Shagari, look at all other previous heads of state (from the in-group), who now wallow in wealth and in luxury, with audacity and impunity, and strutting about like unfettered swashbucklers and the proverbial gay Lotharios. So why is Ibori the byword for corruption in Nigeria? Is it because he hails from a minority ethnic group, the Urhobo nation, the fourth most populous ethnic nationality in Nigeria, a group that revels in being trampled upon and elects to suffer in silence, in spite of huge natural and human resources? How can you fight corruption selectively and hope to achieve success? I pout my lips whenever I hear anyone call Ibori’s name in derision.
Now I can hear fake prayer warriors against corruption saying, ‘Chris Akiri is writing all this because he is Urhobo’, which I proudly am, anyway! I can say from the roof tops that Ibori’s touted theft is a mere flea bite on the kernel of the corruption, malfeasance, nonfeasance and misfeasance inflicted on Nigeria by former and serving Governors and heads of state, even those whose regions contribute zero per cent to the Federation Account.
When Kwame Nkrumah (the Osagyefo), the late President of Ghana, was alive, he fervidly inveighed against colonialism and neocolonialism. He abominated a situation in which his nation, or any African nation, was yoked to the colonial horse of any Western nation, or, if, having attained nationhood, any African state should allow a former colonial master to continue to stand astride it as though nothing had happened. Among such notable revolutionaries and nationalists were Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Amilcar Cabral, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, etc. But they are no more! So today, shameless African states, including Nigeria, have tied their states to the apron strings of European and American countries, of their own volition.
I was, therefore, not surprised when neocolonialist Judge Anthony Pitts of the Crown Court in London queried, with temerity, the validity of Section 182 (1) (e) of our Constitution, which allows someone tried and convicted of any crime more than 10 years before the date of election to the office of Governor of a State to stand for election to the office of Governor of a State.
Ibori and his wife were said to have been convicted of the offence of handling stolen property in London, early in1991. Under the provisions of the British Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, after the lapse of a period of five years, anybody convicted of an offence in a UK court is entitled to consider that his/her legal status has returned to be as if he had never been convicted. Judge Anthony Pitts, stunned and visibly shaken with exasperation, wondered why the Nigerian Constitution makes the conviction/return-to-emancipation period only 10 years for an African! Such an unblushing Negrophobe! But I don’t blame him, with his aquiline nose and café au lait colour! The Nigerian Government and the servile people of Nigeria are to blame.
Now the big question and conclusion: can any one of the sanctimonious haters and traducers of Ibori, Alamieyeseigha, etc. of the Niger Delta, particularly those inveterate traducers in the South of Nigeria, imagine any British or American President and his advisers hounding their political adversaries into exile in Africa, to be tried by African courts and incarcerated in African prisons, to the joy of Britons or Americans? How many British or Americans serving or ex-public officers, like Secretaries or ex-Governors of States, have been tried, let alone convicted, and sentenced to serve prison terms in Nigeria? Or there is no corruption in Britain and America? Why must we announce to the whole world that Nigerian leaders are the most corrupt in the world?
Gradually but inexorably, Nigeria has intentionally or inadvertently surrendered its hard won sovereignty to the suzerainty of foreign powers in a rabid bid to discredit its preceding leadership and its own judiciary. As long as Ibori remains in jail in London, Nigerians and their governments will continue to wear the toga of shame, disgrace, dishonour and embarrassment.
• Akiri is an Attorney-at-Law in Lagos.