Posted by By CHRISTIAN ITA on
Hit by the full implications of the arrest and imminent trial of ex-governors, a new anxiety has hit Aso Rock, Sunday Sun can confirm.
Barring a last-minute hitch, Ex-Governors Orji Kalu, Saminu Turaki and Joshua Dariye of Abia, Jigawa and Plateau States are expected to be arraigned for trial tomorrow.
The arraignment of the former governors is seen as a prelude to the trial of ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar against whom the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) also claims it has prepared a "water-tight case".
Fears were being expressed at the weekend by presidency insiders whether the still-fragile administration of the Musa Yar'Adua administration has mustered enough strength to navigate the turbulence expected to be triggered by the disclosure of "highly classified secrets" in the course of full trial of the former governors.
Said an associate of the president: "Mr. President has always said he is fully committed to the fight against corruption but believes that he should give the agency free hand to do its work within the ambit of law. With that kind of standing order, you can see that Ribadu does not need any clearance from the president to arrest anybody. But by going ahead to act unilaterally in this matter, you can see that this young man does not seem to understand the full implication of taking action of this nature, especially if you have to consider Mr. President's special circumstances as of today.
"I tell you, this action (arrest) has invariably triggered off a lot of things, the outcome of which no one can predict again."
Coincidentally, another flank of fire against the presidency is expected to be opened Tuesday when the case filed by opposition parties, Action Congress (AC) and All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), against the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is opened at the election tribunal.
According to Sunday Sun findings, left to President Umar Yar'Adua, a "gradualist approach" is more expedient to tackle the unfinished business of corruption charges against his erstwhile colleagues in the Governors Forum considering the crisis of legitimacy still confronting his administration on account of perceived rigging of the April general elections of which he emerged the biggest beneficiary.
Yar'Adua is said to consider this position the "most realistic" in the circumstance that his government is still wooing key opposition parties to form a Government of National Unity (GNU) as well as win back to PDP a number of influential politicians who had left PDP in protest of Obasanjo's "abrasive" style through a reconciliation committee led by Second Republic Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme.
This, it was gathered, had informed a presidential directive issued by the president to the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) shortly after assuming power on May 29, 2007, that "due process" be followed in pursuance of cases the anti-graft body has against former governors and other ex-government officials.
His position was said not to have been supported by the camp of hard-liners among the forces still directing Aso Rock's direction. Naturally, the arrow-head of the latter group is said to be ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. Given his own brash disposition, the EFCC boss naturally finds anchor with the group.
Curiously, the renewed offensive by the EFCC against the governors came few days after a visit by its Chairman to former president Obasanjo at his Otta Farm. In what would seem a pre-emptory shot, the publicists of the EFCC boss had stepped subtle PR campaign for him in a section of the media last week with two leading magazines doing cover stories, presenting a picture that he was being haunted by "powerful corrupt individuals" including former governors.
Dirty money in presidential campaign fund
With time, presidency strategists anticipate that the government will soon become hamstrung on the issue of continued protection offered some "friendly" ex-governors who boosted Yar'Adua's campaign fund with billions of naira from questionable sources.
Under this category are three former state chief executives in the ruling party from South, some of whom Ribadu had openly called names in the past. One of them, according to Sunday Sun findings, struck a deal with the past president meant to keep him out of jail.
To ensure his protection, the former South-South governor committed about N5 billion of his loot into the PDP campaign fund. And although prominent citizens of his state have dragged him to court where they alleged that he stole over N100billion, the EFCC is yet to either arrest or arraign him.
Indeed, security sources disclosed that some of the funds allegedly stolen by some ex-governors who would soon be guests of the anti-graft commission were partly used to fund the PDP presidential campaign and "other dirty job of Aso Rock like attempted impeachment of unfriendly leaderships at the National Assembly" in the past.
Besides alleging that immediate past state governors were compelled by the immediate past presidency to dip their hands into public till and finance the PDP presidential campaign, security sources also claimed that the PDP also got funding from questionable sources.
Also, questions are being asked about what became of the case involving a wife to a former South-South governor who is now a high-ranking member of the new presidency.
A lady was late last year arrested at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos while attempting to fly out of the country. A whooping $1.5million was found on her. This was confirmed by EFCC.
On interrogation, she named the then governor’s wife as the owner of the cash, that she was just an agent. The former First Lady was arrested and interrogated. But with the husband suddenly becoming a key player in the emergent presidency, the case seemed to have died a natural death.
Incidentally, the same ex-governor reportedly siphoned about N4billion monthly from the state treasury to fund the PDP campaign between December 2006 (when PDP national convention held) and April 2007 (when the elections held).
Similarly, it is believed that most of the "friendly" ex-governors contributed massively the funds used to prosecute the Third Term Agenda (TTA). It is believed that in many states, governors were directed to give federal legislators between N30 million and N50 million early in 2006 to support the idea of elongating Obasanjo's tenure.
NNPC's dirty closet
During negotiations with Yar’Adua on the invitation to join the proposed unity government, the Action Congress (AC) had, for instance, set some conditions that must be fulfilled before it would consider joining the government.
Some of the demands were the auditing of the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the last eight years and a review of all Federal Government contracts in the last three months of the last administration.
Targeted at Obasanjo, who was for that duration the defacto oil minister, that demand was refused by the PDP government, of course, at the instance of the former president. It is widely believed that the former president presided over "elaborate sleazy oil deals" during the period as a result of which he is fiercely opposed to the question being mooted at all. This much was confirmed by AC chieftain, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, in the last edition of Sunday Sun. Explaining why AC pulled out of the proposed GNU, the Kano-born politician revealed that they pulled out when it became clear that the new president was being dictated to by the former president.
But with the events of the last few days, it may be impossible to sweep it under the carpet any more in the court of public opinion.
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