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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

In pursuit of justice, productivity, under the rule of law – Prof Wole Soyinka

In pursuit of justice, productivity, under the rule of law – Prof Wole Soyinka

Concerning governance, there is never any moment too early, nor demand too drastic in calling for the overhaul of security agencies where their activities intrude on the fundamental rights of the citizen.

The practice of citizen detention at the whim of either religious blackmail or secular arrogation demands curtailment at source, most especially when exercised in defiance of the law, and the pronouncements of its agencies.

Anything less goes to remind us that anarchy remains a choice for citizen recourse, with unpredictable consequences.

The immediate provocation for these reflections is ongoing predicament of a former Minister of Power, Dr. Olu Agunloye, currently detained by the EFCC, in total contempt of sense and justice, or indeed, basic humane considerations.

We shall not go into the merit or demerits of the charges raised against him over a 16-year-old project that bears the name Manbilla. – that is the business of the law courts. Our concern at this moment is however only partially on the basis of individual Fundamental Human Rights. Most fortuitously, the detention of any former public servant under circumstances such as Agunloye also provokes the question: how is public interest – such as the pursuit of justice – served by such an arbitrary exercise of power?

Before the now familiar carping, let me state that this is not the first time I have personally intervened in the high-handed and illegal conduct of the EFCC.

All the way back to its inception, and public enthusiasm over its mission, I have had cause to use every means to promote and facilitate the success of that mission, while at the same time insisting on the organization’s operation under the law and citizen entitlement.

My personal relations with the EFCC include placing the civic organization in which I am involved in an active relationship with that corruption-fighting agency, even to the existence of an MOU of collaboration.

From the time when intoxicated by righteous zeal, the EFCC in its early years attacked the home and offices of a businessman with a bulldozer, destroying and carrying off valuable equipment, I tackled its then director and demanded civilized usage in opposition to brute force.

It was this that impelled me to facilitate bringing to Nigeria President Kagame of Rwanda to Nigeria to lecture on how he tackled a deep-seated corruption culture among public servants. That was effected in the context of a conference on that very theme at the dedication of new offices of EFCC.

I have never hidden my commitment to the operations of any corruption-fighting agency, including EFCC’s predecessor, the ICPC.

Those credentials are stated to forestall any time-wasting and distracting interventions – let us now get down to immediate, and nation affective missteps by that same EFCC.

The resort to “Trial or Smear by Media” of the most sensationalist kind, launched against the person of Dr. Olu Agunloye is unworthy and reprehensible. Most critically – and I want both governance and citizenry to understand this – it is counterproductive. It inhibits genuine inclination by proficient citizens for public service. That is a lamentable obstacle on the way to any nation’s development.

WANTED? Just what is that? Olu Agunloye has pursued his movements openly to the extent of being present and photographed at my sister’s funeral on December 8. He did not appear in disguise, did not sneak in and out. He functioned as any normal human being at an event at which the Press was present.

Less than thirty-six hours later, he was declared WANTED: If that was an EFCC joke, it was in extremely bad taste, obviously designed for Social Media sensationalism, not for any serious crime-solving commitment.

Nonetheless, Agunloye, as a dutiful citizen, issued a statement on his visibility and ready compliance. He promised to show up at the EFCC offices in Abuja the following day. He appeared, and was promptly arrested and detained.

The information I have been able to obtain during the past two days of my return to the country is that the Head of the EFCC declared that he would release him only on the instructions of the President of the Nation.

True or false? I am not in the game of “He said, I said”. What matters is the murky exercise of power. I have had cause to intervene before this, all the way from Are, through Ribadu and Magu, that last until he stopped taking my calls.

The present however transcends all other interventions, as it involves certain issues of national interest, in tandem with the evident issues of fundamental citizen rights.

Put succinctly, I wish to claim that finally, after so many years of frustration, the nation is being offered an opportunity to put the Mambilla Project to rest, be it through terminal abandonment or resuscitation, corralling its lessons in fulfilling one of the most basic conditions for national industrial development with private creative input – addressing frontally and holistically the basic question of sustainable supply of power., In addition – and I concede that this is a personal, yet national concern.

We stand a chance to finally solve a nation’s high-profile murder case, this being none other than that of Bola Ige, also prior minister of Power under President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Let this be understood. The murder of Bola Ige, plus a monumental act of sabotage that took place under Ige’s watch, involving the loss of some engineers, was linked to massive corruption that underlay the Mambilla collapse.

It is time to end the deception, the cynical cover-ups, the blame passing, the diversionary utterances, and the now open admission of corporate corruption with high reaches of power.

We are calling for a non-partisan Commission that will sit in public, take evidence, ask questions, and cross-examine witnesses over even one year if necessary. After all, this MASSIVE FAILURE has gone on for nearly two decades. We can spare one more year, surely to lay bare the ugly face of Truth, then let the public do what it will with the revelations.

The cycle of self-deception has gone on far enough. Let the two legislative chambers take the bull by the horns to end the charade, cut our losses, and move on.

In the meantime, the EFCC should release all its prisoners or, in the alternative, equally arrest and detain ALL those involved in this mammoth SCAM that has deprived the “GIANT OF AFRICA” the basic survival facility for a twenty-first-century society. One chicken in the coop is a travesty of justice and a deplorable lack of nerve.

Release Agunloye, or detain all those directly or indirectly implicated in that fiasco. The preening and posturing of EFCC has served its purpose, it is time to now divert it to a productive end – bringing closure on the one hand, and also opening up new channels of productive fulfillment for a stressed and distressed nation.


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