As we continue to explore various forms of fire, the fire of graft is one that keeps recurring, creating a depletion and bankruptcy in our moral bank. It might not be out of place to say that it has become second nature and is unrelentingly loaded with metamorphic tendencies. In Nigeria, these tendencies have coiled round the concept of virtue like a constrictor python and its attendant effects are the symptomatic corruption spreading across the land like wildfire.

Unemployment rate is pegged at 20 percent, yet the Commonwealth of the nation is being squandered. Nigeria’s 89 million poor stands as the largest in the world. Isn’t it a wonder that 60% of the loans given out by banks are directed at only 100 bank verification numbers? In a country of over 180 million, 60% of the loans go to only 100 people, who of course are the influential ones!

Is this not the country that a former head of State once said had no problem of money except how to spend it? But have we spent wisely, responsibly and accountably as we ought?

Corruption has so crept in and funds misappropriated so much that paying university lecturers is a struggle. The more striking part is the fact that the allocation to education has dropped significantly while allocation to lawmakers has ominously been on the increase. One would ask: Who will power the future? The corrupt politicians or the students that are to be educated?

It amazes me that in this land, where inflation holds at 18 per cent and consumer price index constantly keeps rising, minimum wage is still pegged at N 18,000 (roughly $50). Recent clamours by the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) for government to increase the minimum wage have fallen on deaf ears. Yet, the scourge of disrespect to national wealth goes on unrelenting.

Once the country was having an excess in oil revenue, the right mindset would have been to save for the raining day, but those saddled with the future turned into crooked men at the "night of long knives" and shared the resources of the State among themselves. And on ground, we have 18 months of unpaid salaries with many states begging for relief from the federal government. Many of the states’ debt profiles are of biblical proportion.

Sometimes you think you would get a day off but NO! The plunder is never enough. Around 2011, government revenue was about 5.9 trillion and 1.8 trillion was used to pay subsidies on petroleum products(Read Ngozi okonjo-Iweala’s new book). Just imagine the continuous damage this does to the resource base of a nation. These so-called subsidies were for products that were never delivered and majority of the oil and gas industry players were involved in this scam called subsidies.

In this light, I daresay the problem of Nigeria is that of collective destruction, because private citizens too had their share of these corrupt monies and gave testimonies in church and told everyone it was "divine breakthrough".

Another profound scam is the 72 percent of our budget spent on recurrent expenditure. When such proportion is spent on recurrent expenses alone, how can we really do anything new? And this goes on, from ghost workers to subsidy scam to judgement debt scam, where civil servants connive with contractors to take government to court over unpaid contract fees, bribe the judges to get a judgement and share the fine paid by government.

As at 2012 this amounted to N18 billion. Only imagine how many new schools that would have built!

Stupidity even becomes more interesting when politicians become singers and show off palpable wealth while people die in hospitals at childbirth. I would reckon Ivan the terrible wasn't this terrible. It is interesting, alas saddening, that this land with over 80 million hectares of good arable land cannot feed itself. Nigeria is the Oil Producing Economic Commission - OPEC’s 7th largest producer of crude, but still, has its streets decorated with long fuel queues. It is the story of the sanity of stupidity, and I ask: when would this change?

Pre-Independence and the First Republic Corruption, though prevalent, was kept at manageable levels during the First Republic. However, the cases of corruption during the period were sometimes clouded by political infighting.

Nnamdi Azikwe was the first major political figure to be investigated for questionable practices. In 1944, a firm belonging to Azikwe and family bought a bank in Lagos. The bank was procured to strengthen local control of the financial industry. Albeit, a report about transactions carried out by the bank showed that though Azikwe had resigned as chairman of the bank, the current chairman was an agent of his. The report wrote that most of the paid-up capital of the African Continental Bank was from the Eastern Regional

Financial Corporation.

In western Nigeria, politician Adegoke Adelabu was investigated following charges of political corruption leveled against him by the opposition. The report led to demand for his resignation as district council head.

In the Northern region, against the backdrop of corruption allegations leveled at some native authority officials in Bornu. The Northern Government enacted the Customary Presents order to forestall any further breach of regulations. Later on, the British administration was accused of corrupt practices in the results of elections which enthroned a Fulani political leadership in Kano. Reports later linking the British authorities to electoral irregularities were discovered.

Yakubu Gowon Administration (August 1966 – July 1975)

Corruption for the most part of Yakubu Gowon's administration was kept away from public view until 1975. However, informed officials voiced concerns. Critics said Gowon's governors acted like lords overseeing their personal fiefdom. He was viewed as timid, faced with corrupt elements in his government.

In 1975, a corruption scandal surrounding the importation of cement engulfed many officials of the defense ministry and the Central Bank of Nigeria. Officials were later accused of falsifying the ship’s manifesto and inflating the amount of cement to be purchased.

During the Gowon administration, two individuals from the middle belt region were accused of corruption. The Nigerian government controlled the newspapers, so the Daily Times and the New Nigerian gave great publicity to denunciation of the Gowon administration and Federal Commissioner Joseph Tarka - a situation which might have signaled a cause for exigent action on corruption.

Murtala Mohammed Administration (1975 – February 1976)

In 1975, the administration of Murtala Mohammed made reformist changes. After a military coup brought it to power, the new government sacked a large number of government officials and civil servants, many of whom had been criticized for the misuse of power they wielded under the largely uneducated military of Gowon.

Olusegun Obasanjo Administration (February 1976 – September 1979)

The first administration of Olusegun Obasanjo was a continuation of the Murtala Mohammed administration, and was focused on completing the transition program to democracy, as well as implementing the national development plans. Major projects including building new refineries, pipelines, expanding the national shipping and airlines as well as hosting FESTAC was done during the administration. A number of these national projects were conduits to distribute favors and enrich connected politicians. In his lifetime, Afro-beat musician, Fela Kuti sang variously about major scandals involving the international telecommunication firm ITT led by Chief MKO Abiola in Nigeria, which the then Head of State, Gen Olusegun Obasanjo was associated with. In addition to this, the Operation Feed the Nation Program, and the associated land grab under the Land Use Decree implemented by the then Head of State was used as conduit to reward cronies, and his now famous Ota Farm Nigeria (OFN) was supposedly a project borne out of this scandal.

Shehu Shagari Administration (October 1979 - December 1983)

Corruption was considered pervasive during the administration of Alahaji Shehu Shagari. A few federal buildings mysteriously caught fire after investigators started to probe the finances of the officials working in the buildings. In late 1985, investigations into the collapse of the defunct Johnson Mathey Bank of London shed light on some of the abuses carried on during the second republic. The bank acted as a conduit to transfer hard currency for some party members in Nigeria. A few leading officials and politicians had amassed large amounts of money. They sought to transfer the money out of the country with the help of Asian importers by issuing import licenses.

In 1981, a rice shortage led to accusations of corruption against the NPN government. Shortages and subsequent allegations were precipitated by protectionism. After its election, the Nigerian government decided to protect local rice farmers from imported commodities. A licensing system was created to limit rice imports. However, accusations of favoritism and government-supported speculation were leveled against many officials.

Muhammed Buhari Administration (December 1983 - August 1985)

In 1985, a cross section of politicians were convicted of corrupt practices under the government of General Muhammadu Buhari, but the administration itself was only involved in a few instances of lapsed ethical judgment. Some cite the suitcases scandal which also coincidentally involved then customs leader Atiku Abubakar, who later became Vice President in 1999, and was indicted for various acts of corruption. "The 53 suitcases saga arose in 1984 during the currency change exercise ordered by the Buhari junta, when it ordered that every case arriving the country should be inspected irrespective of the status of the person behind such. The 53 suitcases were, however, ferried through the Murtala Muhammed Airport without a customs check by soldiers allegedly at the behest of Major Mustapha Jokolo, the then aide-de-camp to Gen. Buhari. Atiku was at that time the Area Comptroller of Customs in charge of the Murtala Muhammed Airport."

Ibrahim Babangida Administration (August 1985 - August 1993)

The regime of General Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) has been seen as the body that legalized corruption. His administration refused to give account of the Gulf War windfall, which is estimated to be $12.4 billion. He annulled the only successful election in the history of Nigeria and presently lives in his lavishly exquisite mansion in his home state of Niger.

During IBB's tenure, corruption became a policy of state. Vehicles and cash gifts were routinely disbursed to earn loyalty, and the discipline of the military force eroded.

Max Sollium wrote in his book Soldiers of Fortune how that IBB spent almost 2 percent of the national budget giving out these gifts.

The term "IBB Boys" emerged, meaning fronts for the head of state in the business realm, someone who will transact dirty deals from drug dealing to money laundering. The President was allegedly deeply involved in drug dealing through the first lady, Maryam Babangida, and another lady, Gloria Okon.

The near-revelation of this misdemeanor by Newswatch editor, Dele Giwa, triggered the journalist’s assassination carried out by the Presidential death squad with the aid of a letter bomb.

IBB used various government privatization initiatives to reward friends and cronies, which eventually gave rise to the current class of nouveau riche in Nigeria. From banking to oil and import licenses, IBB used these favors to raise cash for himself and his family, and he is regarded as one of the richest ex-rulers of Nigeria with supposedly significant investment in Globacom - one of the largest telecom operators in Nigeria, regarded as a front for his empire.

Sani Abacha Administration (Nov 1993 - June 1998)

The death of the General Sani Abacha revealed the national nature of graft. French investigation of bribes paid to government officials to ease the award of a gas plant construction in Nigeria revealed the depth of official graft in the country. The investigations led to the freezing of accounts containing about $100 million US dollars.

In year 2000, two years after his death, a Swiss banking commission report indicted Swiss banks for failing to follow compliance process when they allowed Abacha's family and friends have access to his accounts and to deposit amounts totaling $600 million US dollars into them. The same year, a total of more than $1 billion US dollars were found in various accounts throughout Europe.

Abdusalami Abubakar Administration (June 1998 - May 1999)

The government of Gen. Abdusalami was short and focused on transiting the country quickly to democracy. Albeit, suspicion remains that quite a huge amount of wealth was acquired by him and his inner circle within such a short period, as he lives in a quite exquisite mansion of his own, adjacent IBB's that exceeds whatever he might have earned in legitimate income. Indeed, the major Halliburton scandal implicated his administration, and this might have financed his opulence.

Olusegun Obasanjo Administration (May 1999 - May 2007)

Various corruption scandals broke out under Olusegun Obasanjo's presidency, including one of international dimensions when his vice president was caught in cahoots with a US Congressman stashing cold hard cash (literally) in freezers. In addition to this, the KBR and Siemens bribery scandals broke out under his administration, which was serially investigated by the FBI and led to international indictments indicating high-level corruption in his administration. According to reports, "while Nigeria dithered, the United States Department of Justice on January 18, 2012 announced that a Japanese construction firm, Marubeni Corporation, agreed to pay a $54.6 million criminal penalty for allegedly bribing officials of the Nigerian government to facilitate the award of the $6 billion liquefied natural gas contract in Bonny, Nigeria to a multinational consortium, TSKJ". They paid bribes to Nigerian government officials between 1995 and 2004, in violation of the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Some other acts of corruption tied to Olusegun Obasanjo included the Transcorp shares scandal that violated the code of conduct standards for public officers, and the presidential library donations at the eve of his exit from power that pressured associates to donate. Obasanjo was also said to widely lobby for his failed campaign to alter the constitution to get a third term by actively bribing the legislators, further deepening corruption at the highest levels.

Umaru Musa Yar'Adua Administration (May 2007 - May 2010)

Yaradua's ascent and time in office was short, although a fair number of corruption scandals from previous administrations came to light under his tenure and went uninvestigated due to lack of political will and poor health. Yaradua's various acts of political corruption using his Attorney-General to frustrate ongoing local and international investigations of his powerful friends like Governor Ibori, Igbinnedion and Odili which led to massive losses to their states. Indeed, AG Aondoka was legendary in his inability to obtain conviction in Nigeria even as UK and foreign courts successfully tried Nigeria's deeply corrupt governors from the Obasanjo era that helped Yaradua emerge as president. In addition, Wikileaks revealed that the Supreme Court Justices were bribed to legitimize the corrupt elections that saw to his emergence as president through massive rigging. Wikileaks’ documents also revealed the staying power of corruption under Yaradua, with illegal payments from NNPC to presidents continuing unabated.

Goodluck Jonathan Administration (2010-2015)

In 2014, Nigeria's rank improved from 143rd to the 136th position on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.[36] In late 2013, Nigeria's then Central Bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, informed President Goodluck Jonathan that the state oil company, NNPC, had failed to remit US$20 billion in oil revenues owed to the state. Jonathan however dismissed the claim and replaced Sanusi citing mismanagement of the central bank's budget. A Senate committee also found Sanusi’s account to be lacking in substance. After the conclusion of the NNPC's account audit however, it was announced in January 2015 that NNPC's non-remitted revenue was actually US$1.48 billion, which it needed to refund to the government. Upon release of both the PwC and Deloitte reports by the government at the eve of its exit, it was determined that truly close to $20 billion was indeed missing or misappropriated or spent without appropriation.

In addition to these, the government of Goodluck Jonathan had several running scandals including the BMW purchase by his Aviation Minister, $250 million plus security contracts to militants in the Niger Delta, massive corruption and kickbacks in the Ministry of Petroleum, the Malibu Oil International scandal, and several scandals involving the Petroleum Ministry including accusations of sweetheart deals with select fronts and business people to divert public wealth. In the dying days of Goodluck Jonathan's administration, the Central Bank scandal of cash tripping of mutilated notes also broke out, where it was revealed that in a four-day period, N8 billion was stolen directly by low- level workers in the CBN. This revelation excluded a crime that is suspected to have gone on for years and went undetected until revealed by whistle-blower. The Central Bank claims the heist undermined its monetary policy. In 2014, UNODC began an initiative to help combat corruption in Nigeria.

New allegations of corruption have emerged since the departure of President Jonathan on May 29, 2015, including:

  1. $2.2 billion illegally withdrawn from Excess Crude Oil Accounts, of which $1 billion was supposedly approved by President Jonathan to fund his reelection campaign without the knowledge of the National Economic Council made up of state governors and the president and vice president.
  2. NEITI discovered $11.6 billion was missing from Nigeria LNG Company dividend payments.
  3. 60 million barrels of oil valued at $13.7 billion was stolen under the watch of the national oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, from 2009 to 2012.

NEITI indicates losses due to crude swaps due to subsidy and domestic crude allocation from 2005 to 2012 indicated that $11.63 billion had been paid to the NNPC but that “there is no evidence of the money being remitted to the federation account”.

  1. Diversion of 60% of $1 billion foreign loans obtained from the Chinese by the Ministry of Finance.
  2. Massive scam in weapons and defense procurements, and misuse of N3 trillion defense budget since 2011 under the guise of fighting Boko Haram.
  1. Diversion of $2.2 million vaccination medicine fund, by Ministry of Health
  2. Diversions of Ebola fight funds up to N1.9 billion.
  3. NIMASA fraud under investigation by EFCC, inclusive of accusation of funding PDP and buying a small piece of land for N13 billion.
  4. The Ministry of Finance led by Okonjo-Iweala hurried payment of $2.2 million to health ministry contractor in disputed invoices.
  5. NDDC scams and multifarious scams including 2.7billion naira worth of contracts that do not confirm to the Public Procurement Act.
  6. Police Service Commission Scam investigated by ICPC that revealed misappropriation of over 150 million naira related to election related trainings. ICPC made refund recommendations, but many analysts indicated that prosecution was more appropriate.

Muhammadu Buhari Administration (2015-present)

In 2016, the Senate ad-hoc committee on “mounting humanitarian crisis in the North East” led by Senator Shehu Sani indicted the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation appointed by Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Babachir Lawal in a N200 million contract scandal for the clearing of “invasive plant species” in Yobe State by Rholavision Nigeria Limited, a company he owns. On October 30, 2017, President Buhari sacked Lawal based on the report of a three-man panel led by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo that investigated him and one other.

Abdulrasheed Maina was head of the task force on pension reforms during the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration but fled Nigeria in 2015 after claims that he embezzled two billion naira (equivalent of $5.6 million, 4.8 million euros). Despite the fact that an Interpol arrest warrant was issued, he still managed to return to Nigeria, being said to have enjoyed protection from the security.

According to the senate through its committee on public accounts, 85 government parastatals under the present government under the leadership of Muhammadu Buhari are yet to submit their reports since the inception of the government. The flag bearer of the corruption fight in Nigeria, the EFCC has responded to the Senate committee on public account's claim on the non-submission of her account report by the institution and 84 others. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission denied the report issued by the committee claiming it was not true.

News Features on Graft

Everyday, Nigerian newspapers and tabloids are loaded with unbelievable news of corruption, fraud, sleaze, sabotage and graft at all levels in the society, portraying unsavory evidences of the loss of virtue and enthronement of ills in our society. Law enforcement agencies such as the State anti-robbery squad, which is constantly alleged to rob innocent citizens, are not left out. Consider the following mind-boggling and ridiculous news items:

NNPC, NPA, FIRS, others failed to remit N526bn, $21bn -NEC

Eighteen Federal Government revenue generating agencies failed to remit N526bn and $21bn into the Federation Account between 2010 and June 2015, an audit commissioned by the National Economic Council has revealed. The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has therefore recommended that the affected agencies be made to refund the money.

Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of a meeting of the NEC presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday.

The council chaired by the Vice-President has all state governors, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and relevant ministers as members. Dankwambo explained that the shortchanging by the agencies was detected by an audit firm, KPMG, which was contracted by the NEC to carry out a forensic audit of revenue remittances to the Federation Accounts by the NEC.

The governor listed the government agencies indicted of underpayment by the audit report to include the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and the Nigerian Communications Commission.

Others are the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, among others.

Apart from refunding the money, Dankwambo said a sub-committee would be set up to look into the details of the infringement. He said those found to be criminal in nature would be handed over to the Attorney General of the Federation for action.

The governor said, “KPMG presented the report of the technical audit of RGAs, concluding that a total sum of N526bn and $21 bn was underpaid to the Federation Account.

“NEC’s Ad-hoc Committee which I head with members including governors of Edo, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Lagos states and the finance minister recommended refund of the amounts underpaid. Council adopted the presentations and reports of the KPMG and the recommendations of its Ad-hoc Committee including a resolution to identify instances where there appears to have been criminal infringements and forward such to the Attorney General of the Federation and the Legal Committee of the National Economic Council for further action.

Council resolved to pursue the strengthening of the NNPC’s governance structure to prevent further recurrence of such gross underpayment by the NNPC and other RGAs.”

The governor said it was resolved that the audit period be extended to June 2017.

“One of the resolutions of NEC is to extend the audit to June 2017. So the audit will continue for the remaining agencies. It is NNOC, NPDC, DPR, Customs, Federal Internal Revenue Services, NPA, Maritime Authorities, all the revenue generating agencies and the details of the infringement are contained in the report. It is a voluminous report; there are a lot of items that are there.

The most important decision that was taken is that a sub-committee will be set up which will be an arm of the legal committee of NEC that will look into the details of these kinds of infringements and make sure that those issues that are criminal and require prosecution will be handled by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.”

Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, said the issue of whether states should henceforth determine how much is paid as fuel subsidy and not NNPC came up at the meeting. He, however, said a final decision on the matter would be taken at the next meeting. He said, “We are doing the nitty-gritty with the NNPC in terms of remittances. Don’t forget that the reason we got it right in 2016 on the NNPC side was that the oil prices were too low. It was easy for everyone to get fuel into the country and then make their profit. So, when the price started jacking up, then marketers started adjusting back because they needed to have a template of cost recovery and how they are going to make up the difference from the pump price to the landing cost of what they are importing.

“Our problem is the volume, the quantity of consumption which is not acceptable. Working with the governors, so many decisions were taken but by next month, we are going to adopt that position either for the governors to take responsibility for the subsidy in their states based on the consumption or we look at other ways.

“For instance, if you say we paid N800bn subsidy, you will ask who are we paying the subsidy to? And if you look at the infrastructure development and capital programme of the Federal Government, it is about N1.1trn, almost 70 per cent of what you are spending on developing the economy.

“If there is no infrastructure development, then you cannot talk about the development of the economy. N800bn is a huge amount that we must look at it, who is benefiting from it.

“So, we are coming up with a strategy; we are going to meet in the months of May and June. By next meeting, we will definitely come up with a position of the government at both the level of volume of what is being brought into the country and what the state and federal governments collaborate to check.”

Adeosun reported to the council that the balance in the Excess Crude Account as of May 14, 2018, stood at $1,830,682,945.30. She also reported to Council that the current balance in the Stabilisation Account as of the same day stood at N15,725,456,963.83.

She put the balance in the Natural Resources Development Fund at N116,104,644,763.39. The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, gave an update to council on the just-concluded Economic Recovery Growth Plan Focus Labs.

Udoma told members that the Labs identified 164 projects spread across the six geopolitical zones of the country. He said the outcome indicated that over 500,000 jobs were likely to be created.

Strange Snake Swallows N36 Million Cash in JAMB office - Daily Post Nigeria

A mystery snake is said to have sneaked into the accounts office of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, in Makurdi, the Benue State capital and made away with N36 million cash. Before now, JAMB candidates purchased scratch cards from JAMB state offices and other designated centers, to gain access to the Board’s website for either registration or to check their admission status but the reforms introduced by JAMB registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, recommended an end to the use of scratch cards.

A team of auditors was dispatched to different state offices of JAMB to take inventory of the sold and unsold scratch cards and recover whatever money that might have either been generated or mismanaged during the period of the sale of scratch cards.

On their visit to Makurdi office of JAMB, a sales clerk, Philomina Chieshe, told JAMB registrar and his team that she could not account for N36 million she made in previous years before the abolition of scratch cards.

In the course of interrogation, Philomena confessed that it was her housemaid that connived with another JAMB staff, Joan Asen, to “spiritually” steal the money from the vault in the accounts office.

She said: “I was one of the four sales clerks attached to JAMB office in Makurdi. My responsibility was to sell scratch cards to candidates and not involved in handling the revenues. It was the responsibility of Joan Asen and my other senior colleagues. I only remit money when am done selling the cards.”

Few months ago, there was issue of fraud in the Makurdi office. Auditors were sent from Abuja to carefully flip the record books of the office, to perhaps, ascertain the current state of affairs. The state Coordinator, Obilo, was not around when the audit team came. But in the course of the audit, N36 million was discovered to have been missing from the account. An investigation was launched. In the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Joan Asen, who is account staff and a lady outside JAMB have connived to steal the money.

Philomina in her confessional statement said that Joan Asen and her accomplices confessed that they have been stealing the money “spiritually” through a mysterious snake that always sneak into the office to swallow the money from the vault.

According to her “It was a mystery to me too. I have been saving the money in the bank, but I found it difficult to account for it. So I started saving it in a vault in the office. But each time I open the vault, I will find nothing. I became worried and surprised how the millions of Naira could be disappearing from the vault. I began to interrogate everybody in the house and office, and no one could agree on what might have happened to the money. I continued to press until my housemaid confessed. She said that the money disappeared “spiritually”. She said that a “mysterious snake” sneaked into the house and swallowed the money in the vault.”

Lagos SARS Operatives Extort N5,000 From Woman, Friends, Threaten To Kill Them

Four operatives of the Federal Special AntiRobbery Squad, FSARS, have been dismissed over alleged kidnap, unlawful detention and extortion of N7 million from one Mr. Chukwudi Godwin Odionye, popularly called Bishop, in Ajagbandi area of Lagos.

The victim, Bishop, in a petition to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Adamu Ibrahim, said the SARS operatives from Ikeja, stormed his residence on June 4, to effect his arrest over allegation that he was performing ‘fake’ miracles. He said rather than being taken to a police station, the operatives took him to hotel in Agege area of the state, where he was detained and threatened with death if he did not cooperate.

Next day, he said, the operatives— Sergeants Adeoye Adekunle, Adeniran Adebowale, Agbi Lucky and Odighe Hehosa— followed him to a bank where he was made to transfer N7 million into one of the operatives’ accounts.

On receipt of investigation, the AIG, according to the zonal spokesperson, Chief Superintendent Dolapo Badmus, ordered an investigation into the allegation, during which it was discovered that the policemen did not follow proper Police procedure for investigation in the victim’s arrest. She further stated that the four SARS operatives actually abducted the victim from his house and unlawfully detained him in the hotel under their guard, for personal gain.

According to Badmus, the Assistant Inspector General in charge of Zone 2 Command, AIG Adamu Ibrahim, has upheld the recommendation of the Police disciplinary body that recommended dismissal of four policemen attached to Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja, Lagos SARS.

“They (operatives) were subsequently found guilty, during the orderly room trial, of professional misconduct, corrupt practices and discreditable conduct, were dismissed and consequently charged to court on criminal charges of armed robbery, kidnapping, unlawful detention, stealing, intimidation and threatening violence.”

Badmus, who reiterated the AIG’s directive that the Force will not tolerate any act of misconduct that undermines the value of international best practices of policing, said any policeman found guilty would not be spared.

Shortchanging the Economy

These are clear examples of the various societal ills bugging us, an offshoot of the fire of corruption, which has to be nipped in the bud. It has become a free for all. Despite the economic instability, a lot of people fail to realize that Nigeria has become poor over the years - not just in wealth terms but in virtue.

Presently, Nigeria's budget is merely 25 billion dollars. In 1980, under Alhaji Shehu Shagari, it was 26 billion dollars. If you were to divide the current budget by the population, every citizen gets 138 dollars from the government every year. That is 30 cents every day. Out of this meagre amount, some people still have the nerve to steal and pad the budget. It is shocking that despite our meagre resources, corruption has increased. Recently, I was listening to a news story on TSOS (the old Oyo State broadcast service). In 1983, Prince Olobokun reportedly stated, that the state monthly revenue was 25 Million Naira, then about 25 million dollars equivalent (which is about 9 billion naira in today’s value). Currently, the Oyo State monthly allocation is about 4 billion naira. This shortfall is a clear indication to how much the economic viability of states in the nation has been plundered but despite this, the looting and stealing has increased.

It has to be said there is a need to constantly assault the various societal challenges we face with the bulldozers of critical thinking, but the question is can we trust the operator(s) with the bulldozer’s capacity?

CHAPTER SIX

THE FIRE OF STATE CAPTURE

Without sugarcoating issues, since independence, Nigeria’s moral essence and structure have depleted and spiraled downwards year by year. But in recent years, the stupidity has undoubtedly become unbearably palpable. So palpable that neo-colonialism now reigns decades after independence. A full-blooded Nigerian is still treated as a second-class citizen on Nigerian soil in lieu of a Lebanese. In fact, you are told that he, who pays the piper, dictates the tune. It is unfortunate that in Nigeria, due to numerous factors, a foreign business has a higher chance of doing better than a local one. As it occurs in business so does this in many other fronts nationwide.

Some would argue that we never earned freedom, all we got was independence. I concur with this school of thought because I believe the freedom struggle was skewed in the direction of tocqville - undefined craving for independence.

From the colonial days, Indians and Lebanese have always done business in Nigeria. They came in as traders and made their margins - a fair deal was a fair deal. But it wasn’t too long that these deals subtly turned into state capture. Prominent mentions are the Vaswani Brothers and Chagoury, who before our very eyes, have virtually taken over the nation’s economy. The Vaswani brothers, in collaboration with some other Nigerians looted the country dry.

This is attested to in the following excerpt from an article by Sahara Reporters:

Nuhu Ribadu, former chairman of the once dreaded Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, knows how tightly these brothers have gripped the veins of Nigeria's economy. He first ran them out of the country in 2002, but they clawed their way back. ''It is very glaring the nation won't enjoy much prosperity, especially in the domestic economy, as long as the Vaswanis remain in Nigeria,'' the former anti-graft czar once reportedly lamented. Tongues in the presidency are wagging as feelers by way of petitions reaching it allege that between 2002 and 2010, Nigeria lost about N150.8 billion in over-invoicing, waivers abuse, and tax evasion to the group's import business. But for some hunch, they would have strung Nigeria along again in a N200 billion car importation waiver proposal and N150 billion in the Badeggi, another rice deal production nearly sealed by the Vaswanis and their Thailand collaborators.

Something else that effectively cripples Nigeria's economy in the manner they conduct their business is capital flight, which results from repatriation of profits, in dollars, back to the United Kingdom, Dubai, India and other countries where they have businesses. A 2009 study of the Global Financial Integrity estimated that Africa lost $903 billion that year, and about $800 billion annually. Nigeria, according to the report, topped the losers' list.

NASS Digs in

Maybe the deluge of petitions the seven-man Senate Committee on Privatisation received on the alleged economic crimes of these Indians will be heavy enough to confirm that the brothers hold Nigeria in the jugular. Economic analysts have always argued that it will take some doing for the country to really get industrialized with its current expansionist import policy. The Stallion Group particularly appears more obsessed with dumping goods on the economy. With its 15 subsidiaries and a conglomerate of fronts in Nigeria, the group imports practically anything from rides to rice.

That is one way of keeping Nigeria a perpetual consumerist nation, unlike India that is, to a large extent, known for its booming technology, health exports and manufacturing.

The Vaswani greed may have led to their latest scam in the acquisition of the Volkswagen Nigeria Limited, VON. The Senate is already convinced Nigeria has been shortchanged in the sale of the company. Very revealing are the video clips of the Senate Committee's fact-finding visit to the VON office in Apapa, Lagos, almost six years after sale.

The vast premises of the former German-Nigerian auto plant are now a bonded terminal, one of the three bonded terminals the group owns in Lagos. That conversion of a key driver of an economy into a storage facility is illegal, going by section 1 of the Memorandum of Association of the automobile company. What further throws more light on the shady deal is the account of a 24-year old business romance gone frosty between Kashim Bukar Shettima, owner of the Barbedos Group. Shettima, in 2006, bought Nigeria's 35 percent in Volkswagen for N612million, shortly after the brothers, who also bid, were deported. Although they were poles apart after then, the bond remained fairly strong between the Vaswanis and Shettima. “I made every effort to get their return,” he asserted. The brothers had won the bid for N400million in 2003, but a rice importation fraud pitted them against former President

Olusegun Obasanjo who had to fling them out of the country. Yet Shettima ensured the Stallion Group was running on autopilot until 2007, when the late President Yar' Adua, after a business luncheon, brokered by their Nigerian beneficiaries during his first visit to the United States, okayed their come-back.

Their Mafian Style

But the Indians came back with a vengeance. They had registered and incorporated a Barbedos Virgin Island (BVI) in the UK, in February, 2005, with which they later partnered with Shettima's Barbedos, Nigeria Ltd, as Overseas Partner, to acquire the remaining 35 percent Federal Government stake in the company. Petitioning the federal government and the National Assembly, Shettima said the Vaswanis cheated Nigeria by short-circuiting due process, under a company called Avolon, to acquire Germany's 51 percent in Volkswagen. According to presidency sources, it was a breach of the pre-emptive rights of the federal government of Nigeria stated in section 151 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990.

The BVI, however, had their reason. The National Council on Privatisation was aware of the under-hand deal. In a letter dated August 25, 2005, Atiku Abubakar, former vice president and chairman of the NCP, was informed by the Bureau of Public Enterprises, under Irene Chigbue, to waive Nigeria's pre-emptive rights to acquire the 61 percent shares of the German partners.

While Abubakar knew then that the Vaswanis had been banished from the country, he blinked over the BPE request.

Again the debt of about DM 4 million that VON purportedly owed in Germany was another point in favour of the Vaswanis. They claimed to have settled up Germany, thereby making VON indebted to them. Shettima is, however, strongly of the opinion, in some of his representations to the presidency, that the credit arrangement was fraudulent because the auditing firm that investigated VON debt profile, Robert Ade-Odiachi & Co, said that the debt was non-transferable.

By the same token, former shinning jewel in the Nigerian steel industry, Delta Steel was captured by Premium Steel, a company owned by the Vaswani brothers and left moribund. The names are endless. In another article by Sahara reporters, Chagoury was mentioned as having made his fortune in Nigeria through shady deals.

One major element of controversy was his relationship with former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, who allegedly stole about $4 billion worth of public money during his mandate.

The Swiss judiciary opened a legal case against Abacha’s family, relatives and colleagues after Abacha died in 1998, including Chagoury, who was involved in the case and convicted for money laundering. He paid a fine of $600,000, and gave back $65m to Nigeria, according to the LA Times.

One can only imagine how much of Nigerian has been money developing India and Lebanon! Over 3 billion dollars have been lost in state capture - a very sad narrative.