By Adebiyi Jelili Abudugana
With the impending elections, Nigerians would be seeking through the present, a future. This endeavour constitutes a change process that requires the use of our understanding of why our yesterday was miserable and obscure, as determinants in seeking the realization of a cheery tomorrow.
Given that this implies seeking history (future) through history (past and presence), our ability to achieve the desired- a better tomorrow, is incumbent upon the realization of the fact that the traumatizing moment we are agitatedly seeking its reversal, was once a future whose present bleakness owes to our collective inabilities to use the past that gave birth to the present, in shaping its course. It is therefore on the basis of this consideration that this article uses on the one hand, the instrumentality of history, in addressing certain issues constituting moral burden on Goodluck and Dame Patience Jonathan’s leadership.
On the other, Arnold Toynbee’s concept of seeming repetitive patterns in history is used to unearth the fortress on which Jonathan’s presidential ambition is based and what this portends for the change Nigerians desire.
Although there is the hidden hand of God in man’s unfolding history, it is man’s activities in and within time that gives birth to circumstances which either favour or impede the realization of man’s goals in time. It is also these activities that culminate into events that becomes the determinant of man’s present.
Such philosophy would be evoked to revisit the alleged involvement of Goodluck and Dame Patience Jonathan - Nigeria’s president and the first lady - in a well documented case of money laundering that has recently becomes a sensation in Nigeria’s political landscape.
As rightly stated by many writers, on September 11, 2006, Mr. Osita Nwajah, former EFCC spokesman made a public declaration that a whopping sum of $13.5 million Dollars (US) was seized from Mrs. Patience Jonathan. This was during her husband’s reign as the Governor of Bayelsa State and Nuhu Ribadu’s years as the EFCC Chairman. Before this, there was also a sum of N104million that was reportedly seized by the EFCC from one Mrs Nancy Ebere Nwosu in August 2006, which, as confessed by the latter under oath, belonged to Mrs Jonathan.These money laundering matters, which was presumed to be wrongly associated with President Jonathan and the first lady, Madam Patience, is now widely sensationalized as a ploy aimed at discrediting the persons of the president and his wife. The issue at hand has also been widely portrayed as fabrication by the ruling party’s and Jonathan’s political opponents.
To establish the innocence of Jonathan and his wife, statements credited to Ribadu were quoted. Accordingly, Ribadu was cited as saying, “I never handled a case against Patience Jonathan, never; it’s a lie. You know it is so sad because in our country this is how we go about maligning people. But today thank God I am not in his government. So, I can open up and talk. If I were to say it earlier people would have thought that I was looking for job from President Goodluck Jonathan. I am not looking for anything. But the truth must be told.” (The Nation, September 16, 2010).
To convince the electorates of the veracity of Jonathan and Patience’s incorruptibility, another statement of exoneration reportedly issued as well by Ribadu was quoted as follow, “The case had to do with a lady and a man who lodged huge sums of money in the bank. The EFCC was alerted by the bank and an investigation was carried out. It was found that they legitimately earned the money through contracts executed in the state. All the reports in the media were lies. For instance, it was initially reported that N70 million was lodged into the bank. Later, it was reported that the money ran into millions of dollars. Such was the extent of the lies. We never handled a case against Patience Jonathan.” (Thisday of September 17, 2010).
Since the alleged crime was committed under Ribadu’s watch as EFCC boss, one may be tempted to say the case never existed at all or consider the whole issue, a mere ploy by Jonathan’s political adversaries.
But, in view of the fact that over reliance on one source is a factor that affects the reliability of historical sources and veracity of an historical claim, one is compelled to seek the use of other prominent sources for a cross validation in establishing the veracity of these claims.
During my search for other primary evidence on this matter, I stumbled on a case with a suit number FHC/ABJ/M/340/06, filed on August 21, 2007 at the Federal High Court, Abuja. As indicated in this file, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu’s -led EFCC named Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of Goodluck Jonathan, as an accomplice in the N104million money laundering case involving one Mrs. Nancy Ebere Nwosu. The amount in question was stated in this file to be laundered on the order of Mrs Patience Goodluck into a First Bank of Nigeria account number 3292010060711 held in the name of Nansolyvan Public Relations Limited by one Hanner Offor.
Still not satisfied with this new primary source on the issue at hand, further effort was exerted to dig into the archive. Again, we (with help from an NGO) stumbled on the EFFC’s affidavit used in supporting the above mentioned suit’s originating summons.
In this document, Ofem Uket, the then EFCC prosecuting officer declared, “Our investigations revealed that Mrs. Patience Jonathan, wife of the Governor of Bayelsa State, was the person who instructed one Hanner Offor to launder the said sum of N104, 000, 000 into the account of Nansolyvan Public Relations Limited with First Bank of Nigeria Plc (FBN), Niger House, Marina, Lagos”.
To further establish the veracity of this discovery, I was forced to search for a court ruling on this matter. Findings revealed that on August 22, 2006, Justice Anwuli Chikere who then was at the Federal High Court, Abuja presided over the EFCC’s application on this case and ruled that, “leave is hereby granted to the Executive Chairman of the EFCC to … freeze the bank accounts of the persons referred to as the account holders pending the conclusion of the investigation of the activities of the said persons in connection with their involvement in the acts of money laundering and other economic and financial crimes related offences.”
Given that the combined use of both primary and secondary sources is needed to make a reliable historical narration, effort was also directed at newspaper reports of this suit and judgement. Among many others, in its September 11, 2006 edition, a story under the caption,”EFCC seizes N104m from Bayelsa Governor’s Wife” featured in Punch newspaper. The news item was put together by Sam Akpe and Tobi Soniyi, Abuja.
When cross-examined with our newly found primary sources, we observed consistency between contents of the newly discovered primary resources on this matter and this news reportage. It may be interesting to produce parts of these documents which highlight how EFCC arrived at the conclusion that the laundered money in question involved Jonathan and Madam Patience.
As shown in these documents, Mallam Ribadu-led EFCC stated: Mrs. Nancy Ebere Nwosu through whom the money in question was laundered “had been evasive in her earlier statements.” But when confronted with further evidence, she said, “I voluntary elect to state as follows: My earlier statements were made while I was very disorganised by the overwhelming questions I had to deal with.” “She then admitted that Mr. Godwill Oba told her that Mrs.Jonathan wanted to give him (Oba) some work and that she (Mrs. Jonathan) would advance the mobilisation money to him (Oba) through her (Nwosu) account. She said, “When Oba came for the money to be withdrawn, I confirmed from Her Excellency, Mrs. Patience Jonathan that she wanted the intended project money to be withdrawn.” “I know that Her Excellency is related to Oba. I confirmed from Her Excellency that the money could be made in favour of Oba.”
As further observed in one of these documents, Ribadu-led EFCC declared that, “Investigations into the laundering of the N70m into Finviclaud with Access Bank Plc cheque revealed that the money was deposited into the account with a First Bank of Nigeria Plc cheque number 3292010060711 for N70m, a personal current account drawn on Nansolyvan Public Relations Limited at the Niger House Marina branch.” “ Nwosu then transferred the N70m from the account into another account operated by Fivviclaud at the Access Bank Plc, Apapa branch, Lagos.” ”Our investigations at the two banks – First Bank and Access Bank – showed that Nwosu of No 2A Araromi Street, Lagos Island, is the sole signatory to the two accounts.”
Given new insights which these documents have offered us, one is bound to raise the following questions. Is it possible that Jonathan and Patience Goodluck are not aware of this court suit? If they do, why is it that they merely rely on Ribadu’s statement of exoneration to establish their innocence and not on any competent court’s judgment? Can it be said that their refusal to back up their claim of exoneration with a competent court’s judgment or make allusion to any pending court case on this matter is an attempt to burry facts of history and hoodwink the masses? While readers are at liberty to find appropriate responses to these questions, one is tempted to suppose that Jonathan and Patience are playing the blame-trade and using power to cover up a past which is inherently part of their persons and a leading reason why our today is miserable.
Another round of question that needs to be raised would be on Nuhu Ribadu’s role in the whole issue. Since we have established that a case with suit number FHC/ABJ/M/340/06, filed on August 21, 2007 at the Federal High Court, Abuja, exists on the issue at hand, can we accept Nuhu Ribadu’s conflicting statement which reads, “I never handled a case against Patience Jonathan, never; it’s a lie” (The Nation, September 16, 2010) as a statement of fact?
We may also need to ask, has Ribadu known to have exhibited double-speaking attitude in the past or in recent time? Evidence suggests that in an interview the former EFCC boss granted The NEWS magazine in February 2007, Nuhu Ribadu once stated that, “Olabode George was never an executive officer of NPA. He was a part-time Chairman. It is the Executive Managing Director who runs the place; it was the MD’s name that appeared in all the contract papers of NPA. Olabode George was a part-time Chairman whose name was never on any contract paper”.
Upon the pronouncement by Justice Olubumi Oyewole which sentenced Olabode George to a deserved two years imprisonment without an option of fine, Nuhu stated that the ruling “is a measure of the shamelessness of our elite and the institutions that fuel their values. That Chief George could be awarded a national honour in our country and that he could later sue some newspapers for libel on account of the damming indictment report I prepared against him.”
Again, the question is, are there no obvious contradictions in the above-quoted statements credited to Nuhu Ribadu on a crime which involved Bode George’s abuse of public trust? It seems to me one is a statement of exoneration and the other, of indictment on Nuhu Ribadu and Bode George. Since the foregoing suggest that the former EFCC boss’s statements may be self-contradictory, then, it is only objective that his statement which exonerated Jonathan and Dame Patience of any involvement in the money laundering case under consideration be discarded.
Probably it was this reality that made president Jonathan to urged Ribadu that he should desist from parading himself as a man of integrity. Little wonder, Jonathan through his campaign organization stated that, “to also show Ribadu’s lack of faith in the anti-corruption fight, he recently said and we quote:“I won’t bother myself with the integrity of politicians that will fund my campaign. I will take corrupt politicians money for my campaign as far as the money is not put in my pocket.”
It is also curious to note that Jonathan and Dame Patience Goodluck who were quick in quoting Ribadu to establish their innocence ironically rejected Nuhu Ribadu’s recent exoneration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of any public trust abuse during the latter’s 8-years reign as the Governor of Lagos State. As stated Jonathan through his presidential Campaign Committee, “the Campaign Committee recalled that in 2007 while answering questions from the Senate on the alleged acts of corruption by some governors, Ribadu pointedly said that the corruption of the former governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Tinubu was “of international dimension …”.
Is it not curious that the same person with such a tag is now the political godfather of Ribadu and sole financier of his political campaigns?… “Ribadu by such posturing has given Tinubu a clean bill of health which is not only hypocritical, but evidence that given the same opportunity, he would not have done better than the governors whom he had indicted.”
Premised on the above position of Jonathan Goodluck on Nuhu Ribadu as an hypocritical personality, a position, upon which Jonathan predicated his rejection of Tinubu’s exoneration by Ribadu, then, it is only logical that all right thinking persons should also dismiss Ribadu’s exoneration of Jonathan and Dame Patience Goodluck of any complicity in the case of money laundering under consideration as hypocritical and fallacious.
From the above analysis, there are some discernible apparent patterns in how the personalities of Goodluck and Patience Jonathan have been unfolding in time. One is that, in an effort to achieve their bids of becoming, they have decided to cover a part of their past and use all means possible to prevent those seeking to revisit it as agents of blackmail.
It seems it was this reality that made the discerning Moses E. Ochonu, Assistant Professor of History concluded that, “President Jonathan Goodluck’s ambition is built and sustained partly on blackmail.” Ochonu added, “but blackmail is only one item in the Jonathan presidential toolbox, revisionist history is another.”
It could be recollected that the twin bomb blasts that rocked the litigious 50th Independence anniversary of Nigeria from colonial servitude caused ethno-political hiccups, and exchange of tirades across divides and affiliations. In effect, accusing fingers were pointed at the probable master minders of the blast to the extent that individuals with different pedigree and affiliations were arrested, interrogated and arraigned by the Jonathan’s government.
Ironically, the only group, MEND, which claimed responsibility for the attack was offered a clean bill of health by President Jonathan Ebele Goodluck. Accordingly, Jonathan stated, “The name of MEND association that operates in Niger Delta was only used. I grew up in the Niger Delta so nobody can claim to know Niger Delta better than myself, because I am from the Niger Delta. I know the person behind the attack and the person sponsoring it. They are terrorists, not MEND.”
He also added, “the government knows them and would fish them out as investigations proceed.” This slipshod vituperation one may want to contend, raises a series of salient questions on the leadership credentials of Goodluck. Given the fact this statement of exoneration issued MEND by Jonathan preceded any known investigation into this matter, then, he may be guilty of playing politics of blame, culpable of policitization of national security and gross incompetence in handling national matters. A more revealing part of the above statement credited to Jonathan is that which reads, “I know the person behind the attack and the person sponsoring it.” It should be asked,who is this fellow Jonathan had in mind or was refereeing to as the brain behind the bomb blast? Could it be one definite individual or that the identity of such individual will depend on Jonathan’s ambition of becoming? We may need to probe further.
If one could recollect vividly as well, Raymond Dokpesi, who then was the campaign manager of former dictator Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, one of the strong contenders who was vying alongside Jonathan for the PDP Presidential ticket, was detained in connection with this bombing issue. One may need simply guess Babaginda’s alleged involvement.
On the eve of a New Year, precisely on 31 December, 2010, Nigeria witnessed another bomb blast at “Mammy” market attached to the Abacha Barracks in the Asokoro area of Abuja. While reacting to this tragic development, the leadership of Jonathan Goodluck concluded and announced that, “the recent bomb blasts in Nigeria were politically-motivated and handiwork of detractors who wanted to bring down the present administration.”
With thorough investigation yet to be conducted into this issue, on 1 January, 2011, after a New Year service at the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) Abuja, Jonathan proclaimed, “the preliminary analysis of the explosives so far used in Nigeria, the one used in the October 1 explosion has the same characteristics with the ones that happened in Port Harcourt, Warri and some parts of the Niger Delta, it has been classified. The one that happened yesterday (Friday) from preliminary analysis is identical with the ones that happened in Jos. So there are two routes. As long as the security operatives know the two routes, we will get to where these things are coming from.”
On the 3 January, 2010, the Minister of Interior, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho (rtd.), was reported to have said that it was too early to link the bomb blasts at the mammy market beside Mogadishu Military Barracks to the Christmas Eve explosions in Jos, Plateau State. Again one observes the problem of hasty judgement, fabrication of a non-existing security report and a sly attempt to blame those who were assumed to be allegedly responsible for the obdurate Jos mayhem and the Niger Delta arm-struggle as the sponsors of the 2nd Abuja bombing.
From the instances analyzed so far, it is evident that revisionist politics of black mail and the use of deceit to cover up facts of history underlie Jonathan Goodluck’s attempts at becoming Nigeria’s president. Since history is what David McCullough describes as, “who we are and why we are the way we are” Nigerians have reasons to think outside the status quo in navigating their search for a better future.
Also, in view of the fact that the ignoble inaction of our corrupt leaders, is a core factor that led us to where we are at the moment, the tomorrow we are seeking will only be a moment of respite, if, we make amends by entrusting the navigation of our country’s future in care of those whose yesterday was not part of what contributed to the culture of corruption and blackmail that make our today miserable.
Wouldn’t it be right that to say that the Jonathan and Dame Patience Goodluck’s activities in time examined so far has imposed on us all, the burden of learning from the past, and the present, by making at the desirable time, desirable decision and desirable effort, that is built on desirable foundation and redirected in the desirable direction.
I suppose this is the only way Nigeria can bring about the desirable change that would revive desirably, the desired future of the country.
Abudugana, the author of this article can be reached through [email protected] The views expressed in this article are solely that of the author and does not reflect that of nigeriansabroadlive.com