We Might Need a Benevolent Dictator to Get Things Right - Festus Keyamo

The Appeal Court just ordered a retrial of the Police Equipment Fund case which you have been prosecuting against Kenny Martins and others, what was your initial reaction when a no case submission was handed down by the High Court judge that tried the case initially?

Well, I just knew the judgment was wrong. From the very first day it was given I knew there was something terribly wrong about the judgment and I only bided my time the moment the EFCC briefed me.

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There has been this line of thought that the EFCC are not very thorough in their investigations and this affects prosecution of some of the cases, how do you react to that?

Well, you see that the Court of Appeal said there was enough evidence; that there was a good case at the lower court. So most of these things you hear, most of these judgments, you hear when they say people have no case and are thrown out, in most of these cases, there are things that are terribly wrong with these judgments but I cannot say more than that. It is when you test it at a higher court that you know that those judgments are flawed.

This case has been going on for some time now; don’t you think the case is losing appeal?

Unfortunately, that’s the way our criminal justice system goes; it’s slow and tardy. Look at the Al Mustapha’s case, the case took 13 years but justice was served at the end of the day and when that judgment was given, the whole episode came back fresh in the minds of everybody. People hardly forget; it’s just that justice takes time a times but when served, it is served very hot and sweet.

You issued a statement on the Farouk Lawan ongoing drama, the question I want to ask you is, if this is supposed to be a sting operation, what took the security operatives so long in arresting him?

I want to ask you a question; if Farouk Lawan had been arrested a few hours to the presentation of that report on the floor of the House, would you have believed the law enforcement agents? Everybody was waiting for that report, he was the hero of the nation at that time and he told the nation that he was doing a thorough job and then he was arrested a few hours before the presentation of that report, would you believe the law enforcements agents? Never. In fact, if he tells the nation that he was picked up from his house at gun point and taken to Otedola’s house to take the dollars, everybody will just believe him and say, they want to kill this boy. As it is, the SSS laid a trap, allowed him to stew in his pot. And they allowed him to perform the act for which he took the money.

Then why was he not arrested after the act of exonerating Otedola?

But that was when they said they called the Speaker of the House to inform him. Don’t forget that all these law enforcement agencies are subject to politics; ICPC, EFCC, Police, all of them. When it gets to that level, they always get approvals to do anything. And I am sure you heard that at that point, they called Tambuwal after the presentation and said this is what happened and showed him the tape. And Tambuwal called Farouk Lawan and said, look at the embarrassment you have brought us. It was at that point that Lawan started running up and down and said he wrote a letter to Jagaba attaching dollars; it was only after it has been exposed. But then, all those explanation have fallen flat at this point. Jagaba said, “Sorry, you did not give me dollars.” He said he wrote a hand written note and you want Nigerians to believe you. He thinks that he is wiser than Nigerians; that you took bribe from somebody and the only act of exposition you made is a hand written note to a colleague of yours saying that you hereby attach dollars in these note that they gave you a bribe. So we have become foolish as a nation to believe that cock and bull story. The man Jagaba said don’t drag me into this because obviously, what was planned was that he would assist him when he was falling and at that point, Farouk Lawan was left alone. He started running up and down to say all sorts of cock and bull story to spin Nigerians. Farouk said he wanted to use the dollars to expose Otedola but instead of exposing him, you stood up on the floor of the House shielding him, telling the world that this man was not involved in subsidy scam. So what you are seeing is that the whole thing smacks of a grand scam; all along these probes are nothing but schemes of blackmail, this is what they do. And that is why Nigerians have been asking what happened to all the reports of past probes? That is the problem we are seeing here it is just a scheme for blackmail by members of the House of Representatives. That is why they set up these committees; it is not to help Nigerians; are they accountable to anybody? All of them were handpicked by their Godfathers in their various states. What happened in the case of Farouk Lawan is a robbery that went terribly wrong and not as planned and he should stop this dance of shame; it has gotten to a ridiculous extent right now. Lawan should appeal to Nigerians, appeal to Allah he serves and say please forgive me I have erred. Nigerians will be sympathetic and consider him. He should resign from office and save that office the shame that he has brought to the House and go back to his village and begin to grow Kolanuts; he will still make a living with all the monies he has collected.

The police have said that they don’t have enough evidence to prosecute Lawan, does that now worry you with regards to the prosecution should the matter get to that extent?

That is more or less like a statement of investigators; they will not tell you how far they have gone. As it is now, the case is closed in my opinion; somebody has made a confessional statement already that he took the money. I don’t need to see tapes again, I don’t need to see video or see dollars. What are they looking for dollars for? To prove what? It has been admitted by Farouk already. He has admitted himself that there were several phone calls regarding the giving and receiving of bribes. By denying his voice on those tapes he is making a further U-turn again from the various he has made. By denying the obvious, he cuts the picture of a hardened crook and criminal; that we are dealing with a human being who is hardened in his ways and he will never change. The only way to break him is to tell him as patriots that he cannot hold public office if he is this kind of person.

The bigger picture we are not looking at is the fuel subsidy investigation report, what happens to it now?

The subsidy report should be sent to law enforcement agents for them to do independent investigations.

With what has happened, is this report still credible?

The report, in the first place, is not the basis for prosecution, I don’t know who is misleading the public; the press has been misleading the public. You cannot use the report of the House to prosecute anybody; all lawyers know that and many of our colleagues are the ones putting forth that argument. The report of the House is worthless in the eyes of the law. When you bring a report of the House, it will be set aside by law enforcement agents and they will do their own independent investigations. All those witnesses will be re-interviewed; their statements this time will be taken under caution because the circumstances under which you took the statement in the House are not the same under law enforcement agents. There you will be told that you are not obliged to write anything but anything you write will be used for or against you in a court of law, which is a statement of caution. You will be asked if you wish to go on. Without the scandal, the report of the House is only a guide, it has no prosecutorial worth.

With what has happened, do you see the House as being credible?

The House of Representatives has never been credible. It only confirmed all the suspicion all along. I know them very well, I have prosecuted them before. That place you see at the Central area is a dome of fraud; a scheme of fraud. I am being honest. People just use the power of public office to design schemes of fraud.

How can this ‘Dome of Fraud’ be made credible?

We need to go back to our electoral system. This is the problem and it’s key. The system that produces people in public office, it is completely messed up. Let us fine-tune our electoral system. If we cannot fine-tune it, I am sorry, we need a benevolent dictator to come and do that for us. I am sorry but we may need it.

I want to get you right, are you saying we need a ‘benevolent dictator’ to get things right?

What else do we need at this point? Because now they (House of Representatives) are not willing to make change happen. In fact, after committing electoral fraud, they have further frustrated those they have cheated by saying that they should do their petitions in some days. Look at all the petitions that have been thrown out that has merit. Just look at it. Without creating an enabling environment for the court to function.