Continuing with the Ribadu Saga - Part 2

In the initial part of this article, in the light of Ribadu's current travails and the wider implication for the battle against endemic corruption in Nigeria. It is suggested that the Oputa Panel could not be seen as a completion of any sort of process but merely as a template to which a future panel(s) convened or inaugurated may build upon.  I have sought to argue for the use of the model and mechanism of the panel as a modus operandi to address the structural and fundamental problem of Nigeria's corruption.  I also indicated that I would seek to address the question detailed below:

"To explore the need for a more substantive truth commission along the lines of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission in order to combat the endemic malaise of corruption and mis-governance in Nigeria"

In the midst of the shenanigans surrounding Nuhu Ribadu I am even more conscious that the trend emerging in Nigeria in its battle against corruption is in a stalemate.  A stalemate between the law enforcement/detection agencies and the ruling classes. Some would even argue with some validity that the EFCC and ICPC at its very best could only scratch the surface of corruption and that most of the high profile convicts have now been released to stride their respective communities like colossuses after their routine applications for bail. The stalemate I highlight is in my view capable of sending our fragile state to an irreversible decline, hampering any hope of development or any agenda for industrialisation.

I have already argued that the Oputa Panel for all its good intentions was unable to call to proper account significant members of the ruling class. The simple reason for this was that there was not an incentive for those classes of people to cooperate with the panel. I think at this stage a useful analysis of the South African context may help us appreciate the premise am trying to construct.

The South African scenario was that it was on the verge of a violent melt down and after much anguish the intellectuals like

Professor Albie Sachs, Kadar Asmal, Dr Alex Boraine, they emerged with the idea of a Truth and Reconciliation but made it novel by offering amnesty to the perpetrators of heinous crimes on the condition that they confessed all. 

The intellectuals provided the basis for the ANC's agreement with the National Party predicated on the decision not to prosecute its political class and suspected collaborators in return for the ceding of power. In other words truth became an outpouring of utility to the old and new political classes. This was the plank upon which South Africa built a new society and escaped the predicted bloodbath at the time.

They also sought to do something remarkable through the process using the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to play the role of the highest cultural role of hero in a general sense of being the "poet" that included both philosopher and scientist as forger of new vocabularies and new narratives that redescribe and thus reconstitute the people of South Africa and the world, rather than that of the traditional role of philosopher as seer into the timeless and necessary truths about the essence of humanity and reality.[1]

The simple question that arises in trying to apply the South African model to Nigeria's war on corruption is what justice would such a process bring?  This of course identifies profoundly difficult questions faced by the fledgling democracy when balancing the possibility of amnesty for crimes committed in support of the previous regimes, with the need to give justice in the form of recognition and respect to the many thousands of victims harmed. 

I am advocating that in addressing some of the issues of concern that such a Truth and Reconciliation model applied to Nigeria needs to enshrined in law for a time defined/limited period and to be granted the power to grant amnesty to individual perpetrators of corruption and other heinous crimes and that such a commission would need to combine quasi-judicial powers with the investigative tasks of truth-seeking body.

I would suggest that for such a body to be effective it would need the powers of subpoena, search and seizure. That the nature of the Commission's hearings be public and provision be made for the institutional hearings and witness protection programmes.

The reality of Nigeria, I dare suggest is that the scale of corruption is so massive, so deep, and very insidious that it would take a generation of investigations and prosecutions if we are to attempt to bring the entire ruling class from the local government councilors/officials to the very top government officials to account.  Furthermore we risk investing so much billions in investigating many for limited political returns.  I see the adoption of a South African model Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a means of using it as a political instrument to heal the fractured Nigerian society and of cause as a cost free mechanism to recover billions. 

The whole modus operandi of what I suggest is that the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission should have the power to encourage the ruling class to confess all their corrupt activities and other crimes and restitute a significant part of their ill gotten gains. I suggest the perpetuators after confession should also be compelled to re-route some of their stolen wealth into social economic infrastructures in the respective areas or$ state treasuries they looted under the direction and supervision of an accountable body of some description.

Then offer the incentive that on the basis that their confessions being verified by the Code of Conduct Bureau, EFCC and ICPC, that a full and unconditional pardon be allowed and a clean slate be drawn for the perpetrators.

To many who query whether there is a moral basis for what I am proposing. My response is simple: That I think in one sense it could be argued that there would be, with the idea that truth at least could be preserved.  Essentially the Truth and Reconciliation Commission could be committed to the development of a human rights culture and a respect for the future rule of law in Nigeria.  

In attempting to do this, I believe that there was an irreducible minimum and that is a commitment to truth. As Roberto Canas of El Salvador puts it:  

"Unless a society exposes itself to the truth it can harbour no possibility of reconciliation, reunification and trust. For……settlement to be solid and durable it must be based on truth."[2]

And in drawing from Zalaquett's introduction to the English edition of the Chilean Commission's Report that:[3]

"Although the truth cannot really in itself dispense justice, it does put an end to many a continued injustice -……………..."

In a word, it is important that knowledge of the past is known and shared, but it is equally important that this knowledge, this truth, should be acknowledged by the Nigerian community - if reconciliation is to have any long term chance in what had been a deeply divided society.

And yes I agree to some extent with Kadar Asmal that:

"I therefore say to those who wear legalistic blinkers, who argue that immunity would be an affront to justice, that they simply do not understand the nature of the negotiated revolution that we have lived through, we must deliberately sacrifice the formal trappings of justice, the courts and trials, for an even greater good: Truth. We sacrifice justice for truth so as to consolidate democracy, to close the Chapter of the past and to avoid confrontation."[4] 

What I suggest I believe would lay the basis for Nigeria as a nation coming to terms with its corrupted and fractured past and moving forward.

The concluding part would attempt to detail how confronting the truth would set Nigeria free on the path to greatness and also highlight the parallels and points of difference between Nigeria's context and South Africa's.  

May our intellectuals, commentators, journalists and masses emerge with many more ways in which we can all more confidently speak truth to power.

  

The writer is a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and author of yet unpublished 'Speaking Truth to Power: Albie Sachs and the work of South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission'.


[1] Rorty, Richard (1989)., Contingency, Iron, and Solidarity Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 101.

[2] Boraine, Alex (1996). "Justice in Cataclysm: Criminal Tribunals in the wake of mass violence:  alternatives and adjuncts to criminal prosecutions". http://www.truth.org.za/reading/speech01.htm [Accessed 23rd October 2005]. 

[3] Zalaquett, Jose. "Balancing Ethical Imperatives and Political Constraints: The Dilemma of New Democracies Confronting Past Human Rights Violations." Hastings Law Journal. Volume 43, No. 6 (1992). 

[4] Asmal, Kadar (1995)., Hansard 1995: pp. 1382 –3 Act No.34 of 1995: Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 1995.




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Re: Continuing with the Ribadu Saga - Part 2
Philipikita posted on 08-09-2008, 22:42:59 PM
Our people are not the same as the south africans. The nature of crimes is not the same too.
Our crooks will not risk loosing their billions in return for "amnesty".
Our crooks would rather die than loose their "stolen" riches.
Don't you see how our reps kick against the FOI bill with maximum energy?
I humbly oppose your propositions because the nature and character of the wrongs and of the perpeprators are not the same.
Some of south africa's wrongs were legal, could only be healed through "truth" and amnesty.
Our so-called leaders are criminals.
Re: Continuing with the Ribadu Saga - Part 2
Employlawone posted on 08-10-2008, 01:16:12 AM
QUOTE:
Our people are not the same as the south africans. The nature of crimes is not the same too.
Our crooks will not risk loosing their billions in return for \"amnesty\".
Our crooks would rather die than loose their \"stolen\" riches.
Don't you see how our reps kick against the FOI bill with maximum energy?
I humbly oppose your propositions because the nature and character of the wrongs and of the perpeprators are not the same.
Some of south africa's wrongs were legal, could only be healed through \"truth\" and amnesty.
Our so-called leaders are criminals.



Thank you,

Therefore, I humbly ask what is your solution or alternative?
Re: Continuing with the Ribadu Saga - Part 2
Lovenest posted on 08-10-2008, 01:16:54 AM
Nothing but a revolution by the people or a people's coup carried out by determined, hardened revolutionary Majors and Captains in the Nigerian Army can save the country otherwise forget it, let the looting continue.

These people are so mean that we also need a mean action to put them in check. No amount of palliative measures can save us. Attempt to bring in a seemingly democratic govt that would have brought sanity in governance was thwarted by their counter-part in military uniform. I am talking about the June election. So, those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.
Re: Continuing with the Ribadu Saga - Part 2
Anonimi posted on 08-10-2008, 02:25:01 AM
For quite a while now I had nurtured the hope that through democracy we could get a gradual change and lake some progress as some of our African neighbours have done. However that seems to be fading by the day, with PDP's overbearing and criminal ways of holding on to power regardless of the people's wish. Maybe it has something to do with the preponderance of ex-soldiers at the helm of its affairs
In the face of such hopelessness, one is bound to understand the call for a very bloody take over and subsequent quick trial and execution of KEY looters to serve as deterrent to others. But getting someone to lead such is a matter of luck (divine intervention?) and having him stay true to the cleansing objective to the end is something else, given our usual na-only-my-tribesman-wey dem-dey witchhunt mentality.
I am still hopefull that the other political parties will actualise their threat to not participate in further court-ordered rerun election until the Indepent portion of INEC's name is guaranteed and Iwu removed. Otherwise we are a long way from national redemption.
Re: Continuing with the Ribadu Saga - Part 2
Lovenest posted on 08-10-2008, 03:36:17 AM
QUOTE:
For quite a while now I had nurtured the hope that through democracy we could get a gradual change and lake some progress as some of our African neighbours have done. However that seems to be fading by the day, with PDP's overbearing and criminal ways of holding on to power regardless of the people's wish. Maybe it has something to do with the preponderance of ex-soldiers at the helm of its affairs
In the face of such hopelessness, one is bound to understand the call for a very bloody take over and subsequent quick trial and execution of KEY looters to serve as deterrent to others. But getting someone to lead such is a matter of luck (divine intervention?) and having him stay true to the cleansing objective to the end is something else, given our usual na-only-my-tribesman-wey dem-dey witchhunt mentality.
I am still hopefull that the other political parties will actualise their threat to not participate in further court-ordered rerun election until the Indepent portion of INEC's name is guaranteed and Iwu removed. Otherwise we are a long way from national redemption.



anonimi,
These Nigerian politicians are so deaf that they cannot hear. They have refused to change for good and from the hand writing on the wall, they are not prepared to change. For God sake, how else can we appeal to the senses of these people? Who are they, and how many are they that they have to hold a whole country to a ruthless ransome? So, all we need is a crisis situation in the country to keep distabilising the polity.

The Niger -delta boys are doing just that. All I crave is for MASSOB, MOSOP, and OPC to join them in creating an ALARMING SITUATION and terrible crisis that will then propel every Nigerian to rise and send this people packing. I can assure you that out of such crisis situation, a leader will emerge to jump-frog our political and economic development. It pains me, just like it is still paining Major Adewale Ademoyega, that their January 15, 1966 coup failed, just as it pains me that Major Gideon Orkar's coup of 1990 against IBB, also failed.

Corruption in Nigeria is violence, pure and simple. And the earlier Nigerians know that and respond appropriately by returning violence with violence, the better otherwise all these theoretical permutations and mutations will not help us. It is time for us to transform our writings into social action. Gani has been fighting these thieves since 1970 and yet the monster has refused to leave us. It behoves on all of us to change tactics!
Re: Continuing with the Ribadu Saga - Part 2
Employlawone posted on 08-10-2008, 07:27:39 AM
QUOTE:
It pains me, just like it is still paining Major Adewale Ademoyega, that their January 15, 1966 coup failed, just as it pains me that Major Gideon Orkar's coup of 1990 against IBB, also failed.


I doubt if this changes the essence of your point, however, the Major who I had the opportunity to spend sometime with in the 80s died last year or there about. There was always a sadness about him which I guess links into what you are trying to articulate.
Re: Continuing with the Ribadu Saga - Part 2
Aji posted on 08-10-2008, 08:58:17 AM
After all said and done we will still be grappling with the same problem of corruption, corruption and corruption. This is the only problem we have in this country and it is sad and disgraceful that I will admit there is no solution to this monster in our midst.
It is really sad and alarming that we are not sincerer in our efforts to curb corruption in Nigeria and this practise is now deep rooted that it is becoming a cultural thing.
I will never be in support of military intervention of any sort whether by the top, middle or non commissioned officers cadre as we will simply be swapping a bunch of thieves with another.
Talking about the leaders of the ethnic militias what have they ever done to justify the opulence in which they live the leadership of these organisations compose of people of high doubtful characters from school drop outs to carpenters and what have you and the only thing they are fighting for in most cases is their own economic well being.
One can be rest assured that as soon as these ethnic champions or radical officers in the armed forces have a taste of power we will be back to the status quo just like you have in George Orwell's animal farm.

Talking about a revolution, this will definitely lead to a civil war that will consume the country completely, our wealth will be the target of international arm dealers and you can be rest assured that a lot of Nigerians will also go into the arms trade as our only motive in life is money, money and more money.
The so called returnees from the Western world in politics have not given the populace any hope, because in most cases these are usually people with criminal convictions who have no other choice than to leave the west for their mother land or risk returning to the gallows.
You can imagine what to expect from such people as displayed by the likes of Ibori and Fayose perhaps one of the things Mrs Farida ought to embark upon is inviting the criminal investigation service in the UK, US and other European countries to come with their finger print files and DNA profiles to see how many of our public office holders are on their wanted list.

Our problem is a very complex one that needs lots of prayers and patience as no model anywhere in the world will work in Nigeria, but one law of nature and God's is that any kingdom divided shall not prosper.
The Nigerian nation today is Akin to the proverbial Kingdom of the devil and as one regime leaves after hounding its perceived opponents using the EFCC and ICPC another will come up with a list of its own game and at the end of the day like an equation corruption will cancel out corruption.
The cases we read about now are so bizarre or how do you explain how in this day and age a government official investing huge sums in a voodoo ceremony, to kill his perceived opponents by remote control or blue tooth.

At least in Ribadu's time the likes of Bode George could not be apprehended but see what has become of the grand old thief of the wharf, so we can be rest assured that who ever come after Farida and Yaradua will go after another band of thieve belonging to a clique other than theirs.
One thing we should also wait for is the outcome of the election reform programme embarked upon by the present administration i.e. give them a chance and lets see what happens, maybe Nigerians will be in a position to defend their votes.
In every corrupt society there will still people who will act as a beacon of hope to the populace. The intents of Yaradua are still not known to us, it might be too early to judge him and we should also try to avoid jumping to judgement on the Ribadu saga, especially when we take into considerations recent statements being made by Mr Nwude, though he might not be a credible person but what has he got to loose.
I believe Nigeria will rise again as there is a limit to which a nation can encourage mediocre at the helms of it's affairs, the laws of nature will occur as when you pursue an animal no matter how small to the wall, it will definitely turn around to defend itself as it can not break through the wall.
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