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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bankole, The EFCC and the perennial hypocrisy of the fight on corruption by Stani Slaus

Picture taken from

Reading through the news the past weekend, one of the mega headlines was the arrest of the former speaker of the House of Reps over allegations of fraud and other corrupt practices. Mr Bank-ole tried with the aid of his security detail to fob off the EFCC operatives but sadly for him, their bosses had to intervene to withdraw them and forestall any bloodshed.
Some have decried the manner of his arrest. Why the urgency, why the sudden rush to arrest this young former lawmaker? They forget that he has refused to honor the invitation of the EFCC on two occasions and this time around, the EFCC have claimed that they heard from very credible sources that he was about to scamper and hightail out of the country.
Some on facebook and other social media voiced their anger over the arrest of Dimeji Bank-ole. A good friend of mine made bold to claim that EFCC was carrying out its job in a selective manner. In my friend’s opinion, Bank-ole was only trying to ‘empower’ himself just like those before him did. According to my friend, Bank-ole should be left alone in peace.
I initially thought that he was being sarcastic and I tried to read between the lines but I could find nothing to read there. I have read subsequent updates from him regarding his thoughts on this issue and I see clearly now that he is serious indeed. Bank-ole has done wrong, but since people have done the same thing in the past before him, he should be left in peace to enjoy the fruits of his wanton behavior.
On the other hand, there are others who are happy over the turn of events and hope that a statement would be made regarding Bank-ole, if he is found guilty. This school of thought, however, is not holding its breath regarding anything cogent coming out of this. In their opinion, this is just grandstanding on the part of EFCC and it will return to business as usual very soon.
People can be forgiven for their cynicism, after all, this is a country of the ‘anything goes’ fame. People can loot the treasury all they like and nothing gets done. But I believe this is a dangerous cynical though that should not be encouraged. If the EFCC has decided to pursue this man, then they need our encouragement to see that the right thing gets done.
People need to know that attaining an elective position is not an automatic passport to riches, rather it is a call to duty, to serve and not be served, to protect the interests of the electorate that voted them in. The situation is so dire these days that the aim of an average young man looking for elective position is to go in there and siphon public funds.
The callousness displayed by these people should be abhorred and not encouraged. There are bad roads everywhere; there are youths everywhere engaging in armed robbery and other crimes against the society. If people spend public funds on the normal things they should be spent on, education, good roads, social awareness, health , security and light, then the ills that trouble the society today would be solved at least by half or even more.
Unfortunately, the jackals don’t think like normal people. These people are carefully groomed from generation to generation, corrupt practices are passed on from parents to children and the vicious circle continues. I agree with my friend who would like bigger thieves to be pursued rather than just going after Bank-Ole.
After all, there have being allegations floating around for more than a decade now about a former military head who stole $12 billion from the coffers of the nation. A mind boggling sum indeed! The pertinent detail here is that no successive government till date has had the balls, the gumption to investigate these allegations. If I am not mistaken, a panel of inquiry under a respected Judge was set up to look at this and that panel recommended the prosecution of this former leader. Has any successive government bothered to prioritize these recommendations? No. Is the EFCC interested? Well they haven’t made any mention of that, so we know where their loyalties lie on the issue.
Paying lip-service to corrupt practices will continue to encourage people to come out and steal public funds. The EFCC itself must try to be steadfast in seeking punitive measures for these alleged thieves. The judiciary also has to show some spine, as the EFCC cannot do the job alone. There is no point is somebody stealing about two hundred million naira or so and at the end of the day they get only 6 months jail time and that spent in the hospital bed!
Putting the foot down on corruption requires strong leadership which GEJ should strive to provide. Nigeria is a great nation with vastly intelligent people, unfortunately this intelligence is concentrated or rather dedicated to ripping off the nation, 419 or armed robbery. This should not be the case. The time has come for us all to be vigilante and try to cut off this hideous ‘gorgon’ head.
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