IBB Ibadan Rally Flops

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IBB Ibadan Rally Flops

Post  nex on Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:12 pm

MANY politicians were, on Thursday, disappointed at the non-appearance of former President Ibrahim Babangida in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, as reported in the media for the past two weeks.

The politicians, who were gaily dressed, waited to receive him at the Ibadan end of the defunct Lagos-Ibadan expressway toll gate, while many cars and over 60 buses were also there waiting.

The former military president failed to show up to kick off his presidential campaign slated for the Polo Ground, Eleyele, Ibadan, as a result of alleged ‘security risk alert.’

A source told the Nigerian Tribune that the former president had, on Wednesday night, informed that the security situation in the state did not favour his coming.

It will be recalled that some students of tertiary institutions across the state had staged a peaceful protest to some media houses, warning against the coming of the former leader to kick-start his campaign in the state capital.

The students were said to have threatened to stone him (IBB), if he showed up for the exercise in Ibadan.

The Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade 1, who led other members of the Ibadan Traditional Council to receive him at the Oja’ba palace, went home disappointed when the news came that the former military leader would not be available for the ceremony.

Also, some members of the IBB Campaign Organisation and some top government officials, who were at the Ibadan toll gate, were disappointed as they waited endlessly for the arrival of the former military president.

Babangida, who was represented by a former governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abdulkhadir Kure, could not deliver the lecture slated for the Press Centre of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), because he was not assigned to handle it by the former president.

Speaking at the NUJ Press Centre, Alhaji Kure claimed that three serving governors in the South-West were in support of the candidature of Babangida and wondered why anyone would be spreading the rumour that the people in the region did not want Babangida in the presidential race.

Kure, who commended the appointment of the new INEC boss, Professor Attahiru Jega, stated that he would surely conduct credible elections, urged him to ensure a new voters’ registration for the election to be credible.

He explained that “I would want to avoid talking anyhow in order to avoid saying anything that may prevent IBB from becoming the president in 2011, because the people of the South-West are too intelligent to be played upon by anyone.”

The representative was said to have paid homage to the Molete home of the former chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, the late Chief Lamidi Adedibu. He later went to the Polo Club, venue of the rally.

Meanwhile, a panel set up by the Federal Government on the alleged indictment of Babangida over the $12.4 billion Gulf War oil windfall by the Pius Okigbo Panel report will submit its report ON Monday, and this is authoritative.

The first phase of the panel’s assignment was to authenticate a copy of the Okigbo report which was provided by a coalition of civil society groups, which is demanding the prosecution of the former Nigerian leader over the alleged sleaze.

The panel, headed by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Alhaji Abdullahi Yola, would submit its report to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke SAN, who instituted the panel.

The coalition had asked the AGF to commence Babangida’s prosecution over the alleged scam using the copy of the Okigbo Panel report which it sent to him.

Adoke, however, insisted that the genuineness of the report sent to him by the coalition must be established since the coalition was not the original custodian of the report and the source of the report was not known to government.

He, subsequently, set up the Yola Panel in May, which had reportedly concluded its investigation and would be submitting its report on Monday.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that the panel, in the course of its investigation, interviewed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) over the authenticity of the report, with a source disclosing that the panel also moved around to see if a member of the Okigbo Panel could authenticate the copy of the report sent by the coalition of the civil society groups.

The source, however, declined to disclose the content of the Yola Panel or confirm whether a member of the Okigbo Panel was seen by the Yola Panel.

Justifying the setting up of the Yola Panel, Adoke had said, “since SERAP (the leader of the group) is not the original custodian of the report, would it not be right to have what was sent verified? Even if it’s genuine, don’t I have to verify the content of the report and see if there are material evidence and witnesses that could sustain criminal charge. We are all partners in the fight against corruption and it must be according to the rule of law. Nobody must be criminalised before the process is complete.”

In a letter dated May 12 , 2010, the minister had promised the coalition a committee that would consider the genuineness of the signed report sent by the group and the findings on allegations of corruption and mismanagement of $12.4 billion in the Dedicated and Special Accounts by Babangida while in power.

The letter read in part: “I acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 5th May 2010. I appreciate your effort in making available a signed copy of the Dr Pius Okigbo Panel Report, and, as appropriate, I shall set up a committee that will confirm the authenticity of the said report and also review the allegations and recommendations contained therein with a view to ascertaining whether these allegations can sustain a criminal charge. While we shall keep you informed of our effort in this regard, I would like to thank you for your concerted effort in sustaining the fight against corruption in our society.”A part of the Okigbo report read: “the dedication and special accounts had become a parallel budget for the presidency. The decision as to what expenditure items to be financed out of these dedicated accounts was made by the president alone.

“For example, the accounts had been utilised to defray an assortment of expenses that could not in any way be described as priority such as the $2.92 million to make documentary film on Nigeria; $18.30 million to purchase TV/video for the presidency; $23.98 million for welfare of staff in the presidency; $.99 million for travels of the first lady abroad and $59.72 million for security.

“The approved budget for the federation did not reflect the receipts into the dedication and other special accounts; that the balances kept in these accounts were not included in the federation account, a practice which violated the fundamental precepts of the federal fiscal relations in Nigeria and that, in a number of cases, there were significant variations between the amounts approved for payment and the actual disbursements made, without any further explanation from the documents supplied.

“The impact on the exchange rate in the years under review would have been so significant that the Naira would have been stronger in 1994, in relation to the dollar, than it was in 1985, when it stood at N1 to N1.004. It should be evident, therefore, that the burden of external debt to the Paris and London clubs and the pressure on the exchange rate would have been substantially mitigated if not completely eliminated. It is this fact that calls into question the wisdom and prudence, not in the creation of these accounts, but in its disbursements.”

Reacting to the letter, the Executive Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Adetokunbo Mumuni, in a statement, said “while we prepare a detailed response to the letter by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, we would like to welcome the clear commitment of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to prosecute the former military president on the basis of the strong and compelling evidence contained in the Okigbo report.”

Mumuni also said “we note that this commitment has been at the very centre of the new govern-ment’s platform for the future. We commend the important and encouraging steps already taken by the AGF, but strongly urge the government to accelerate action to ensure that the case is diligently and effectively prosecuted.

“Pursuing this case to a logical and successful conclusion will show that our government can do things differently, when it comes to the fight against corruption in this country. This would also provide effective remedy for the countless victims of high level official corruption in the country.

“We believe that a successful prosecution of the case is a key step in improving the overall governance environment in the country. This new government now has an important opportunity to show that its words would be its deeds.

“We urge the AGF to involve the civil society and the United Nations (UN) in the work of the committee to ensure that justice is not only done, but also seen to be done. We stand ready to offer full support and assistance to the authorities in the prosecution of suspected perpetrators of the $12.4bn scam,” Mumuni added.

It will be recalled that in April, Mr Adoke, responding to the petition by the groups, requested “for a signed copy of the Okigbo Report attached to the letter under reference” in a letter signed by his Special Assistant, Tunde Busari.

The group, in its response in a covering letter dated May 5, 2010, accompanying the 352-page original report sent to Mr Adoke, said “now that we have gone the extra mile to fulfil the request by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, we expect that you would now move swiftly to prosecute the former president on the basis of the Okigbo report and ensure justice to the victims of the mismanagement and corruption documented in the report.

“Time is now of essence; any further delay would be justice delayed, which, as you know, is justice denied.

“We believe the report was never missing but has remained in the custody of the government for years. What has been missing is not the Okigbo report but the political will by successive governments to act decisively on the report.”
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