By Ifeanyi Ottah
President Muhammadu Buhari’s ant- corruption war is undoubtedly attracting kudos from within and outside Nigeria. This is because corruption is regarded as Nigeria’s biggest challenge. It is clear to every citizen that the level of corruption in the country is high. It’s found in every sector of our society.
President Buhari also defined corruption as the greatest form of human right violation. Since the creation of modern public administration in the country, there have been cases of official misuse of funds and resources.
Nigeria as the most populated country in Africa has been ranked high in corruption index by the Transparency International and other notable organizations that monitor corrupt practices around the world. They do not have anything good to say about Nigeria at all. High corruption rankings affect almost all Nigerians who migrate to foreign countries, as foreigners have the perception that since Nigeria is corrupt, so are all Nigerians.
However, when the embattled National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Chief OlisaMetuh appeared at the premises of Federal High Court in Abuja in handcuffs over alleged financial crimes on the 19th of January, many Nigerian’s saw the development in deferent perspective. While many were of the view that the government of President Buhari wouldn’t have descended so low as to handcuff him to the court, simply perhaps to pay him for his role as the PDP’s spokesperson others didn’t see anything wrong in that.
Other successive administrations in Nigeria had in the past used corruption fight mantra as one of their major cardinal point most importantly to garner support from both the electorate and the international community. But at the long run they end up introducing selective justice which makes the program to fail.
Former President Obasanjo, it could be recalled used Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Chaired by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to fight his perceived political enemies, thereby treating his political allies as sacred cows.
Mrs. Farida Waziri, who served under late President Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan,was sacked over corruption related offences
Meanwhile, anti- graft war in Nigeria usually fails because of selective justice. For Buhari’s war against curruption in Nigeria to succeed it must be holistic and all encompassing and should not be fought along party lines or ethnic dimension
However, the president’s body language has failed to convince Nigerians and the International community that he is a real democrat and not a dictator. The handcuffs constitute an element of humiliation and a warning shot to other corrupt officials especially those in opposition PDP who attack Buhari’s government frequently.The All Progressives Congress,APC, only needed a picture of Metuh on handcuffs to send messages to their ‘targets’. One doesn’t need to be a spiritualist to understand the essence of those handcuffs. The fact that people like Kabiru Sokoto, a suspected member of the Boko Haram sect who masterminded the Madala bombing in Niger state on Christmas day in 2011 was arraigned in court without handcuffs confirms the Federal Government’s involvement in the issue. What about Aminu Sadiq Ogbuche linked with the Nyanya motor park bombing in Abuja, Raymond Dokpesi, Nnamdi Kanu (who threatened to break the Igbo nation away by an act of war) and SamboDasuki? They walked freely without handcuffs. Why should the case of Olisa Metuh be different? Is it because he is Olisa Metuh? Or his criticisms were that threatening to the Buhari administration? Those handcuffs were more than a mere restraining element as claimed.
It could be recalled that Metuh was on penultimate Thursday, docked before the high court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a two-count criminal charge bordering on his alleged destruction of evidence against him.
EFCC, alleged that Metuh who is also facing another seven-count criminal charge before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, tore and attempted to chew a confessional statement he made under caution while undergoing interrogation.
The anti-graft agency insisted that the said statement would have been vital to its prosecution of the criminal case pending against the defendant before the Federal High Court.
It said that Metuh, by his action, committed an offence contrary to sections 166 and 326 of the Penal Code Act.
Meantime, the PDP spokesman who pleaded not guilty to the charge, yesterday, prayed the court to release him on bail pending the determination of the case against him.
Moving the bail application which was predicated on sections 35 and 36 of the 1999, constitution, as amended, and sections 160 and 165 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, Metuh’s lawyer, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, urged the court to exercise its discretion in favour of the defendant.
Ikpeazu pleaded the court to consider the fact that his client is also a lawyer and grant him bail on self recognition.
He said that his client, as a responsible citizen, would not jump bail or interfere in anyway with EFCC investigations or with its witnesses
Though EFCC did not oppose Metuh’s bail request, it however urged the court to impose conditions that would compel the defendant to appear for trial if released from detention.
Ruling on the application, Justice Bello noted that the defendant was charged with a bailable offence.
I am satisfied that the oral application of the defendant succeeds, accordingly, he is granted bail in the sum of N300 million with two sureties in the like sum, whose places of abode must be verified for easy access’, the Judge held.
Justice Bello had on the day Metuh was arraigned before him, queried why the EFCC failed to incorporate the current charge to the one already pending before the FHC.
Meanwhile, for the third time, prison officials brought Metuh to court in handcuffs. The EFCC informed the court that it has lined up three witnesses to testify against Metuh, adding that the charge against the defendant attracts two years jail term upon his conviction.
Part of the charge that was preferred against Metuh read, “That you, Olisa Metuh in January 2016 while in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, attempted to destroy evidence to prevent its production in court during trial contrary to Section 1 of the Panel Code.