Ali Modu-Sheriff: Let’s Hope And Pray By Comrade Timi Frank
Still smarting from his indiscretion and colossal psychological blow to the war against terrorism in Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan caused to be circulated a statement through his spokesman, Reuben Abati, that he was “fully aware” that former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu-Sheriff is being investigated over allegations that he is one of the chief sponsors of Boko Haram in the country. “President Jonathan is fully aware of the allegation made against Senator Sheriff by Stephen Davis. That allegation is already being investigated by the security agencies who will make their findings known to the public in due course. The President assures all Nigerians that he has not wilfully taken any action that could prejudice the outcome of that ongoing inquiry. He seizes this opportunity to reassure the nation once again of his total commitment to doing all within his powers to bring all identified and verified sponsors of terrorism to justice, and ending the menace of violent extremism in the country,” Abati said. Ask me, at what point was Jonathan apprised of this intel? Was it after he embraced Sheriff at the Ndjamena airport or after a conference with President Idris Derby of Chad that the investigation file was passed to him by his chief security detail? If he was aware that Sheriff is under investigation, why did he wait for the Australian hostage negotiator, Stephen Davies, to finger Sheriff before telling the world that he was aware of Sheriff’s evil activities?
Well, suffice to say that Mr President only acted characteristically when it comes to responding to matters of national significance. He has been running a government in reverse and auto-reminder since he assumed office. Mr President once shocked the nation when he described the Boko Haram insurgents as “faceless or ghosts.” Yet he set up a committee to dialogue with them. He only lately accepted that 219 Chibok girls were abducted by the Boko Haram following wide criticism of his government by the international media, an action that was fuelled by the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners. It also took the intervention of the Pakistani girl-child education campaigner, Malala Yousafzai, for Mr President to agree to see the anguished parents of the Chibok girls; not in Borno State, but reluctantly, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. Only recently, it took a Washington Post editorial for Mr President to take down a mockery #BringBackJonathan2015 campaign banner strategically hoisted at the Abuja City Gate. Again, it took the outspoken Australian for him to publicly admit that Sheriff was under investigation.
This is not the time for a president to tell the people what they knew a long time ago. After all, Mohammed Yusuf, the late leader of the sect, was a commissioner in Sheriff’s government. He was said to have allocated the large expanse of land from where the group carried out its murderous activities against innocent citizens before Mohammed met his untimely death.
Even though we are almost blinded by the letter of the law and the spirit, which spell out freedom for every individual, why did Sheriff choose a relatively stable neighbouring country to set up his business empire after setting aflame his own country? If Chad were to be riddled with the activities of the daredevil Boko Haram, would his businesses be safe there? Granted he was not officially listed on the entourage of Mr President, as claimed by Abati, but how then did a man who is being investigated for the same terrorist activities for which Mr President was in Chad to get needed help, shake hands with and embrace Mr President on the red carpet? Why was he so strategically positioned in a photograph taken of Mr President and Derby on that fateful day? Even the top security personnel listed by Abati as being on the entourage, like the national security adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, was not in the photo in which Sheriff was given such pride of place, sitting in conference with two presidents. Again, the photo was allegedly circulated by the State House. Haba Mr President! Nobody can say that the president lied, but the facts speak for themselves.
Why do we always wait for others to prod us to do our duty? Why has governance in our country been turned into an instrument of patronage? Only recently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it arrested a gubernatorial aspirant on the ticket of the PDP in Edo State, allegedly for oil theft. But the commission was said to have reluctantly acted after a foreign country also investigating the case prodded it to. Even then, according to SaharaReporters, the suspect reportedly “shocked investigators as he revealed to them he had enjoyed the cover of several top government officials and politicians, naming Mike Oghiadomhe, a former chief of staff to President Goodluck Jonathan; Tony Anenih, chair of the PDP Board of Trustees and Diezani Alison-Madueke, the Petroleum Resources minister. However, the EFCC has vehemently denied the allegations. According to a statement by the commission, “It is important to state here that no serving or former petroleum resources minister or public figure has been linked to the investigation in question. Claims, that the Commission had been under intense pressure from several quarters to muddle up the case in order to spring the suspect free is an ingenious invention to impugn the integrity of the EFCC.” Again the EFCC cannot lie!
Notwithstanding, the EFCC cannot deny that there has been a lot of cover-ups when the issues concern some perceived untouchables in government. For instance, why has Mr President not ordered the EFCC to investigate Diezani over the countless allegations of fraud and mismanagement that have been levelled against her and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation? Better still, the EFCC is not supposed to wait for the nod of Mr President to act, because the EFCC Establishment Act gives the commission power to initiate investigation into economic crimes without a formal petition from anybody. Over N10billion allegedly spent on private jets is still outstanding against Diezani. The EFCC is not protecting her. Mr President is not protecting her either. She is simply above the law!
The Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led panel on the missing $49.8billion oil revenue said, “All parties, that is, CBN, NNPC, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Petroleum Resources had resolved through reconciliation undertaken by them that $47billion had been received into the Federation Account out of the total oil lifting valued at $67billion between January 2012 and July 2013.” Where is the balance of $20billion? Will Mr President wait for another editorial by a foreign publication before accepting that the money is actually missing? As it stands today, it is doubtful if the audit firm said to be combing the books of the NNPC would say anything different from the public stance of Mr President, who has said no money is missing.
Again, Modu-Sheriff was received into the PDP despite his alleged sponsorship of Boko Haram. He was at the Ndjamena airport to welcome Mr President to Chad without being officially invited. He sat in conference with Jonathan and Derby in Chad. He is an ally of Mr President. Soon, Jonathan shall present the 2015 governorship flag of the PDP in Abia State to the former chief of army staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika. After handing over the flag, he will then swear to Nigerians that he knows that Ihejirika is supposed to be investigated. He will also not fail to assure Nigerians that he will ensure that all identified and verified sponsors of Boko Haram are brought to justice by being installed at the Government House in Umuahia.
There is no better way to end this column than to toe the path already beaten by Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, who had revealed that the name of an alleged Boko Haram financier working within the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been uncovered and “passed on” to President Goodluck Jonathan already. Soyinka, in a statement condemning the unholy display of insensitivity by President Jonathan and Modu-Sheriff to the plight of Nigerians being massacred and displaced on a daily basis by the Boko Haram sect, insisted that when Mr President discards his “passive” attitude towards alleged sponsors of Boko Haram, “we shall gladly supply that name.” I cannot agree less.
Now that Mr President knows some of the financiers of Boko Haram who can lead him to those they are financing, I pray that the insurgency war will end in no distant time, if the desperation for re-election in 2015 will allow Mr President take needed action. Let’s hope and pray.
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