Have the Jonathans Been Granted Immunity?

Have the Jonathans Been Granted Immunity?

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Asks Umar Hassan

The decision by the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating allegations of corruption and breach of due process in the sale of OPL 245 oil field, more popularly referred to as the Malabu scandal, to consider inviting former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to answer questions on the role he played in the saga elicited joyous reactions from a lot of Nigerians. The status quo, which suggests Mr and Mrs Jonathan have no case to answer with the authorities despite being mentioned in a couple of investigations, is totally unacceptable. The Buhari administration has shamelessly looked the other way on the occasions the Jonathans’ names have come up.

Revelations after Dame Patience Jonathan filed an application through her lawyers to have a freezing order on her account with Skye bank overturned showed the EFCC knew or ought to know at the time it arrested persons associated with the account that she had the ATM card for the said account and had been withdrawing money from it since 2010.These facts were ascertainable at the most preliminary stage of investigations and it was obvious the EFCC had deliberately skipped her. The woman had been overlooked and saved possible jail time and humiliation, but it was nothing to be grateful about.

The audacious public claim of ownership prompted many to think she and her husband had Buhari by the balls and were not scared of squeezing hard if need be. It’s especially so when the EFCC, as a face-saving measure, began to seize her assets without ever inviting her to answer any questions talk more prosecute her. Facts available to the anti-graft agencies were enough to necessitate the seizure of her properties but not enough to warrant prosecution. How rational does that sound?.

During investigations into the $2.1 billion arms deal, the former national security adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), said every payment he made was authorized by ex-President Jonathan; and Doyin Okupe, a media aide of the former president, said his former boss approved the sum he received. No questions were asked of GEJ; we just went about our lives like it was no big deal. There has been a nauseating disinterestedness and incuriousness on the part of our anti-graft bodies towards the Jonathans whenever a significant need to look into their activities has risen.

President Buhari promised to prosecute anyone found culpable of embezzling money including those who return their loot, and even though he has chewed back those words, if such a will ever truly existed and even if the Jonathans were among the exceptions, then he ought not to have condoned Patience Jonathan’s arrogance in overlooking the “favour” done to her because of the need to send a strong message to those who think they can take for granted the benevolent gestures of his government.

He should have still held on to the funds returned (if any) and gone ahead to prosecute her. Everything adds up to the fact that the Jonathans, who ran the most corrupt government this country has ever seen, seem to be enjoying a special immunity sanctioned from the highest of places.

Even after the promise by the House of Reps committee chairman, Hon. Razak Atunwa, to look into summoning President Jonathan to clarify his part in the lingering Malabu scandal where a Russian middleman, Ednan Agaev, who helped negotiate the transfer of OPL 245 to SHELL and ENI by the FG, told the FBI and Italian prosecutors that Jonathan might have got as much as a $200 million bribe, a disturbing report emerged hinting that the committee has succumbed to pressure mounted on it by “concerned” Nigerians to dispense with his attendance and accept a written submission instead because of the negative implications inviting him could have on the polity. Though it has stayed a rumour, it serves as a perfect illustration of the lengths to which GEJ and those covering his backside can go to thwart the only genuine effort made at looking into his dealings as leader of the most corrupt government we have ever had.

President Buhari’s emergence in 2015 was more down to Jonathan’s inadequacies than the belief the majority of Nigerians had in a 72-year-old’s abilities to turn things around. If there was any consolation, it was his stance on corruption. A lot of people didn’t really believe every indigent Nigerian would get N5, 000 monthly or that the naira would rise to equal the dollar as was promised by the APC. Fighting corruption sounded the most realistic of their targets and it was the one a lot of Nigerians eagerly looked forward to but, so far, the war hasn’t been as straight as expected and it is really sad that the leader of the most vicious gang of pen-and-paper bandits ever known to us seems to have been shielded.

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