Written by Odimegwu Onwumere
After the ubiquitous Nigeria/Biafra civil war in 1970 and Ndigbo were individually given N20 in exchange to any amount of money the Igbo left in the bank before the outbreak of the war, Ndigbo went crackers and speeded and spread to anywhere of the country and the world to make the ends meet. They were scorched by the sun and beaten by the rain while looking for what to eat, with the freshly memories of their property and beloved ones still very fresh in their minds. This is to say that if you want your friend or enemy to pass away gradually, you do what the Nigerian government did to the economy of Ndigbo during the period in quote. But Ndigbo refused to take their last breath. They made up and looked for the money with their bare hands. And they succeeded.
Since the media reported on Friday April 27, 2012, that the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, has granted that a suit against former governor of Abia state, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu brought to it by the EFCC would be retried, the malevolence of this agency against Kalu has refused not to be refused a recurring decimal. Wednesday, July 25, 2007, after the EFCC obtained an intervening penalty order against the various assets of Kalu, while he was being prosecuted by the commission, The Sun Publishing Limited, was also affected, if not for the ebullient spirit of its team at that time that stood their gun. Nigerians of goodwill shouted and asked question about why the EFCC was very callous to deal with Kalu in such an inhuman manner only known for generals in wars who would do anything to bring their opponent down, either by magic or design.
One thing that left people mumbling as the EFCC was making people to believe that Kalu was an awful man when he was governor, was how Nigerians sympathy and reactions poignantly across the world flooded The Sun. In the same manner, Kalu got a share of the torrent of concern and prop up from even unanticipated lodgings. Some people thought that it was Kalu’s end as the EFCC was always in the news peddling and darkening the image of Kalu. He was however quite because in Igbo, there is a saying thus: He who carried nothing breaks nothing. He was not disturbed as the EFCC was making its counterfeit claims of 107 count charge of money laundering against him. The agency told Nigerians that he stole (not alleged) N3b while in office when he was arraigned in 2007, but today is the same agency not saying he stole N5b? And maybe, if the case Nigerians had known that Kalu hadn’t was being dragged by the EFCC to more years to come, the ‘stolen money’ by Kalu would hit N15b to N30b. Hence, the question, “EFCC: Out To Exterminate Kalu?” crops up.
For The Sun to alleviate the fears of its friends and business associates in 2007 the EFCC cacophonously lodged a manhunt against it, The Sun wrote that as an organization, it was not in any way against fighting corruption. It considered itself as partners of all the anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies, with evidence of its past editorial assistances, but it was unswervingly against mixing anti-corruption crusade with perceived hidden political purposes on the one hand and frequent alternative to impunity on the other hand. What made The Sun’s outburst very interesting was the fact that at the time (Thursday, July 26, 2007) of its statement to clear the air: Neither The Sun Publishing Limited nor any of the numerous companies owned or associated with Kalu were put on notice before the order was obtained nor were served with the court order, leaving the workers in The Sun completely in the dark as to what their offences were beyond their association with the marked Kalu.
The company was later notified by its bankers on a Monday that the company’s accounts at various banks have been sterile on the order of EFCC. Every bank that The Sun operated was also blocked by the EFCC. They said it was pursuant to this ‘court order’ widely acclaimed by Nigerians as tainted. The newspaper group was denied access to funds to finance its daily operations. In the same jaded manner the EFCC haunt The Sun, the agency had on Tuesday October 10, 2006, declared Kalu’s mother wanted. Then, you wonder why declare Madam Eunice, the mother of the indomitable ex-Abia State Governor wanted, whereas she was not holding any government position as at the time and after. Apart from Kalu’s motherly mother, 18 others who were officials of the then Abia State Government, local government helmsmen, personal staff of the governor‘s mother, some security aides and two brothers of the governor were in the ‘wanted’ list of the befuddled EFCC.
Hear this flimsy charge from the EFCC: “They were declared wanted for conspiracy, stealing, money laundering, official corruption and diversion of public funds.” While Kalu told newsmen on Tuesday that all those declared wanted were ready to submit themselves to a fair trial, Nigerians frowned at the EFCC that it was only pursuing the bid to give the kiss of life to President Olusegun Obasanjo‘s third term agenda. When the EFCC, perhaps, got a tip of the iceberg that it was chasing shadow in the case, the agency swiftly made a statement the same Tuesday through its Head, Media and Publicity, Mr. Osita Nwajah, saying that some of the security aides of the governor‘s mother shot at the commission‘s operatives, when the agency approached to arrest Madam Eunice and others on Monday, which was based on THEIR court order. You know what this means? Give a dog a bad name in order to hang her!
Further, to draw the masturbated psych of Nigerians who did not see witch-hunting of the EFCC to mean fighting corruption, the EFCC added that Interpol and other law enforcement agencies around the world and all the diplomatic missions in Nigeria had been alerted to treat the suspects as fugitives from justice if they set foot in their respective countries. But while the agency was saying that anyone who aids and abets the escape of suspects who had warrants for their arrest duly issued by a court of law would be in serious contravention of the laws of Nigeria and would be accordingly dealt with under the law and warned the suspects to surrender themselves for questioning, saying that “No one is above the law,” five years after, the EFCC have refused to act according to the following instructions by Kalu:
1. Kalu said the allegations by the EFCC were merely meant to distract the attention of those opposed to the failed third term bid of Obasanjo…
2. Those who are doing this should know that they cannot live in glass houses and be throwing stones.
3. There is massive fraud in the Presidency and nobody is talking about it.
4. Why do you declare people wanted when you know where they are?
5. This is all about resuscitating the failed third term bid of the President.
6. What I still insist on is that Obasanjo himself must be probed for serious cases bordering on corruption.
7. There should be a probe of his Temperance Farm account and other accounts.
8. In 1998, before he was elected, those accounts had no money in them.
9. Now, they are in billions.
10. How did the money get there?
11. How did he make all his money?
12. There are several companies undertaking multi-million naira projects in his Bells University, yet no one has said anything.
13. I have been in business before I became governor and will still be in business after.
14. So, I can account for all the money I have in my accounts.
15. No one can cajole me to support a third term for anybody or do anything unconstitutional by making false allegations against me or those who work with me or my family.
Notwithstanding, was it because of his outspokenness that the EFCC and its surrogates want to exterminate Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu out of circulation? This is evident that there is every conviction that there is a string up gang out there to destroy him ostensibly at all costs. But with God, his fate will never be like that of the eliminated Chief MKO Abiola, winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential elections, who was reportedly pummeled to the soil by anti-democratic elements.
Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. (08032552855. Email:email@example.com)