Dariye: A feather In Obasanjo's Cap?

Mr. Joshua Dariye has become in our nation, a man synonymous with so much. For now, nothing seems good about what he represents. That categorisation is as bland and confusing as various opinions over declaration of emergency rule in Plateau State because of the infraction at two of the seventeen Local Authorities. Many pundits purport the action of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution of the nation. More have challenged the impunity that Kano State escaped the same wrath. The emergency rule declaration is here and in many ways it projects wrong values and awful leadership not only in Mr. Obasanjo; we are all to blame for the calibre of people we celebrate as leaders in our nation. In a democratic dispensation, it is now clearer that Mr. Obasanjo for one or two reasons that I shall later dwell upon is as bad Mr. Dariye ? the suspended governor of Plateau State who was condemned with all sorts of expletives. Now and on reflection, both men seem not aware of  ??that all power is a trust ? that we are accountable for its exercise that, from the people and for the people, all springs, and all must exist (Benjamin Disrael, the 1st Earl of Beaconsfield and former British Prime Minister).  For Mr. Dariye, his personal survival for now is more crucial than resuming the Office of the Governor of the State ? an office that may now forever be beyond him. The suspended governor is at the mercy of the president; and Mr. Obasanjo is not only aware of the expected grace ? he needs Mr. Dariye as a prime example of the failure of his crusade against corruption. Earlier stories reported was that the suspended governor was detained in London. I can state on reliable information as Mr. Dariye has denied that he was not detained. The information that I have had corroborated is that a man was arrested over a large amount of money for which the source may be dubious. Let us for ease of reference call the arrested man: ?the Courier?. When questioned, the Courier must have realised that he could go to prison. Hence, for love of freedom, he spilled that the money belonged to the suspended governor. At this point ? there were two options available to the suspended Governor. If he was well advised - he could have denied he knew nothing of the Courier?s claim and the result would have been the loss of the money to the British Government and a jail term for the Courier. The other option and a very ill advised one for that matter ? the governor could have claimed the money; and show proof of its legitimate source. Such proof may have been difficult for a serving State Governor. The suspicion is that Mr. Dariye could only have purloined the funds; and seeking to pervert the course of justice by falsehood would have compounded his problems. Hence, it would have been a dangerous choice to risk arrest and possible jail term in the United Kingdom. The only advantage in the latter choice would have been that if the State treasury were defrauded, the return of the money to the Nigerian Government would have been assured. I state this outcome for one very good reason.I have lived practically all of my adult life in England and I am conversant with the system. I can state that only two Nigerians ? one living and the other dead are the only ones that have or have had the clout to influence the legal system in the United Kingdom. As for the dead one, he is only mentioned for effects and because of an incident rumoured in the 1980s. Unfortunately for the suspended governor, Mr. Obasanjo is the only living Nigerian that can save him from a prison term in the United Kingdom, assuming the funds seized in London were his. The Nigerian president has the connections of his office and the British Government respects him as its ?Establishment? is in awe of him. If he chooses not to use inter-governmental connections to intervene at the mercy of Mr. Dariye, his fans and friends outside the British Government will most certainly deliver what he wants. For this reason, I am fairly confident that if the funds were stolen ? they would not only be returned to the nation; the suspended governor will serve no prison sentence under the provisions of Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 or its counterpart money laundering legislation. It has to be said that since the funds were not paid into a Bank Account or expended, it may be difficult to prosecute the suspended governor under the provisions of the Money Laundering Act. Mr. M.K.O. Abiola was another man who had the same gravitas. Were he alive, Mr. Dariye could have counted on him. After all, it was rumoured in the 1980s that a relative of one of his wives was involved in a criminal infraction in Brazil. The rumour had it that with his intervention, the wife?s relative quietly left Brazil with no criminal records. Mr. Abiola?s tentacles spread all over the world. He was that powerful. Now, that he is dead and prosecution of crime is not time barred ? may be it is time to alert the authorities in that country of the existence of the relative ? so that he could face the music.In some regards, I am saddened for Mr. Obasanjo. If the advice in declaring a state of emergency is well considered - his Attorney General has a lot to answer for. Considering the advice to the president was based on a ?spent? statute, which the Attorney General linked to inexistent provisions in the 1999 Constitution ? there is only one honourable option left for Mr. Akinlolu Olujimi - the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation. He should resign immediately. It is time that our public servants are made to pay for ineptitude.  Could Mr. Obasanjo rely on an Attorney General that does not know which legislations are still in force? A man that ought to guide him in legal matters has failed woefully on this occasion and for as long as the issues of the emergency rule are debated - Mr. Obasanjo started from a bad and embarrassing position. If Mr. Olujimi refuses to take the honourable path ? Mr. Obasanjo must relieve him of his appointment. The president cannot and must no longer rely on legal advice from this minister. Mr. Obasanjo?s crusade against corruption is at the heart of the process to declare a State of Emergency in Plateau State. The president needed to assume powers to punish Mr. Dariye and in so doing 120 million of us are now caught in the web to avenge the suspended governor. He could have allowed the system to impeach the suspended governor. As, Mr. Obasanjo would not gain the ?glories? that he sacked the governor - regardless of whether the constitution granted him the rights to appoint a sole Administrator or not, Mr. Obasanjo desires the approval that he is serious about eradication of corruption. What his foreign friends shall not inquire is the breach of the nation?s constitution in his actions. Wait for a while, you would hear Mr. Andrew Young, the Black American friend of the president singing his praises over the declaration of emergency rule.   Let us backtrack a little bit. Earlier this year, the president may have considered that a compounded unlawfulness and illegality could just as well provide the expediency to absolve his failures over the last five years. Therefore, he seeks to showcase the weakness of our democracy as not his personal failures but the corruption of others - Mr. Dariye only becomes a feather of in the president?s cap in the path of history. The errors of the suspended governor might be exemplified to vindicate the president. Mark it, this president will, in future claim the avarices of corrupt governors frustrated his achievements. If that claim is doubted, consider the theme of the president?s media chat in celebration of Democracy Day ? where he announced that two governors were currently being investigated. The announcement of the investigation of governors in itself is queer to the extent that neither the police nor other prosecuting authorities have been as clear-cut to advise the public. Why is it the place of this president to do so? There are two situations that the president?s disclosure may precipitate. Firstly, there are irresponsible gossips and painting of all governors with the same brush ? as corrupt. Secondly, the governors collectively will react to the president  - just as they did to the Minister of State for Finance, Mrs. Esther Nenadi Usman. The result is that governance suffers. Could the prosecuting authority involved in this matter not have made the announcement at the conclusion of its investigation? What happens, if the two governors investigated were found innocent? Would Mr. Obasanjo return to advise the nation of their innocence? Would he announce that he ought not have made the earlier comment about the investigation? Whichever way the president?s announcement is explored, it is a foreshadow of the foreboding action that our polity is to suffer. That aside. Consideration of the drama precedent to emergency rule may help understand the reluctance of Mr. Dariye to pursue a legal remedy to restore his powers and office; and why he is seeking refuge with God. In my view Mr. Dariye seeks to convince of repentance and possibly a ruse to forestall greater dangers. But, if the president could not contain his anger with the expletives to describe the suspended governor; it may be hopeless to expect compassion. Possibly for Mr. Obasanjo the suspended governor is to serve as a deterrent to corrupt government officials. As it is in the president?s gift to protect the governor - I doubt if he could on this occasion be magnanimous. Would anyone dare plead for the suspended Governor? If the governor breached the trust of his office, he deserves to be punished by his electorate. Perhaps, more than anyone, he realises his limitations and I am the first person to admit his options are limited. So, he is right in his chosen response to his personal crisis.If it can be submitted that Mr. Dariye is the embodiment of what is wrong in our political system; I reiterate once again that there is a need to reconsider ascendancy to political offices. Political parties must in the interim to the next elections scout for aspirants currently affecting their immediate environments through selfless projects to limit rogues from taking political offices. What we operate at present is a polity devoid of ideas and ideals. Political offices go to the highest bidders. That much was foolishly acceded by the current president of the Senate ? Adolphus Wabara. If politicians are assuming offices to recoup their investments, why is Mr. Obasanjo angered that governors have stashed funds in foreign banks? As for declaration of emergency rule, the president must realise that his Attorney General proffered a bad advice. He should appease the nation and restore the choice of the people of Plateau State. Mr. Obasanjo should then provide the nation with facts of what happened in London and watch how the system will itself deal with Mr. Joshua Dariye. It takes a true leader to reverse the error of an ill-fated advice. Mr Obasanjo should demonstrate that he is a fearless leader, who is willing to correct the errors of a faulty advice.
Mr Odutola is a solicitor of the Supreme Court, England and Wales and a Lawyer at a Firm of Solicitors in London, England.



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