2015: Jonathan Enters Secret Pact With Bankole, Fani-Kayode, Others To Stop Their Corruption Trials
Facing the prospect of a stiff challenge to his reelection in 2015, President Goodluck Jonathan has stepped up plans to neutralize his political foes and make new friends and allies.
A key part of the president’s plan involves a secret deal to scuttle the ongoing prosecution of several former public officials on corruption charges in exchange for their political support.
An investigation by SaharaReporters discovered that Mr. Jonathan, who faces a major challenge from the opposition, especially the All Progressives Congress, and from within his own party, the Peoples Democratic Party, has started preliminary negotiations with several suspects in corruption cases on the possible obstruction of their prosecution in court.
Already, the president’s strategy has met with some key success for him as well as for suspects being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). One of our sources said one of the early successes of the president’s strategy was the “victory” of former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, in a case the EFCC filed against him before an Abuja high court.
“Dimeji Bankole walked home free as a result of a deal that was reached with the Presidency,” a source familiar with the case claimed. Mr. Jonathan reportedly courted Mr. Bankole’s support for the 2015 presidential election. In addition, Mr. Jonathan encouraged the former speaker to run for the office of the Governor of his home state, Ogun, under the platform of the PDP.
Many of Mr. Bankole’s key aides have, however, vowed not to support him because, as one of them stated, “He has told us that he won’t contest.”
President Jonathan’s coddling of corrupt suspects has created some disquiet among some leaders of the EFCC. An official of the highly compromised anti-corruption agency told our correspondent that he could not believe that the president would fraternize with a figure like Ayodele Fayose, a former governor of Ekiti State. Mr. Fayose, who is facing prosecution for massive money laundering, recently emerged as the PDP’s governorship candidate in Ekiti State.
Before the primary, which has been described as “a sham” by 13 disaffected aspirants, including Mr. Jonathan’s immediate past Minister of Police Affairs, Caleb Olubolade, Mr. Fayose had gone to town to state that the president had endorsed him.
Buruji Kasamu, a suspected drug baron who is wanted in the United States of America for drug trafficking, is also backing Mr. Fayose. Mr. Jonathan’s chumminess with Mr. Kasamu, despite his well-known legal troubles in the US, was one of the factors cited by former President Olusegun Obasanjo for withdrawing from PDP activities.
A former chairman of the PDP’s Board of Trustees, Mr. Obasanjo insisted that it was too much of a moral burden for him to be in the same political party with a wanted drug baron.
Last week, President Jonathan met with Femi Fani-Kayode, a major opposition critic as well as one of the major former public officials being prosecuted for corruption by the EFCC.
A source close to Mr. Jonathan told SaharaReporters that the president’s inner circle recommended courting Mr. Fani-Kayode after the latter made sharp outbursts against his party, the APC. “The president saw a great opportunity to use Chief Fani-Kayode’s prosecution as a winning tool to woo him,” said a source familiar with the ongoing negotiation between the two men. The source assured that the cases against Mr. Fayose and Mr. Fani-Kayode would end up the same way former Speaker Bankole’s did.
Our source added that some members of the president’s camp were opposed to the strategy of offering deals to corrupt politicians in order to curry their support. “Some of us have cautioned that he [President Jonathan] doesn’t need to do this. He should not be desperate because the opposition is already in disarray. But some hawks insisted that he has to toe the line of wooing corrupt politicians.”
The source stated that the cases against Mr. Fani-Kayode and Mr. Fayose would soon be dismissed, with the Presidency quietly instructing the EFCC not to appeal the verdicts.
“We can win election without these people, but I still don’t know why the President continues to listen to people who advise him to seek alliances with every money laundering suspect,” said a source.
President Jonathan has demonstrated a bold support for corruption and for corrupt officials. He has retained Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke on his cabinet despite her involvement in several corruption scandals. He also pardoned former Governor Diepreye S.P. Alamieyeseigha from his home state of Bayelsa. The former governor was arrested in London for money laundering, and was subsequently convicted for corruption in Nigeria and served a short jail term. Mr. Jonathan also seems reluctant to fund any serious anti-corruption effort. A top official of the EFCC recently stated that the commission was broke.
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