Who said the rich and influential do not go to prison in Nigeria? See here

by Emmanuel Chidiogo

“Only the less privileged go to prison in Nigeria” were the words of Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, in Enugu last week as he expressed dismay at the level of dilapidation of Nigerian prisons.

According to Ekweremadu, only the poor and the weak mostly go to prison in Nigeria.

Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu admitted that only poor people go to prison in Nigeria.

Well, to a large extent and coming from the Deputy Senate President, a lot will agree that there’s not much to be faulted in his statement. Nigeria is a country where the elites make laws which are only applicable to the poor while the “big shots” only use these laws as a tool through which they show their supremacy.

However, it should be noted that it is not always a walk in the park for these big shots. A couple of them, like the common thief, have fallen under the corrective sledge-hammer of the law. Bode George serves as a good example.

Olabode Ibiyinka George is a Nigerian politician who became Military Governor of Ondo State, and later Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, then national vice-chairman in the South-West zone of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In October 2009 he was sentenced to a 30 month jail term for charges that included contracts splitting and inflation. The former South-West deputy Chairman of the PDP was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2008 for contract inflation to the tune of N84 billion with five other board members, during his tenure as the Chairman of the NPA board between 2000 and 2003.

According to the charges, Mr Bode was alleged to have, among others, conspired on June 6, 2003 to inflate the contract price for the rehabilitation of Kalmar Container Handler from 215,555.52 Euro (over N47 million) to 269,965.71 Euro (over N59 million). He was also alleged to have inflated contract awarded to Dateks Ltd for the replacement and installation of six 11KVA High Tension Panels with accessories at Sub-station C, Tin Can Island Port, Lagos, from 310,500.40 euro (over N67million) to 345,925 euro (over N75,842,582). The PDP chieftain served a two-year jail term at Kirikiri Maximum Prison, Lagos.

Bode George, went to prison for corruption.
Bode George, went to prison for corruption, but his conviction has been overturned.

Mr George is not the only “big man” in this category. Tafa Balogun, a former Inspector-General of Police (IGP), was on April 4, 2005 arraigned at the Federal High Court, Abuja on charges involving about N13 billion obtained through money laundering, theft and other sources. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission under Nuhu Ribadu brought 70 charges against Tafa Balogun covering the period from 2002 to 2004. He made a plea bargain with the court in exchange for returning much of the property and money. He was sentenced to six months in jail and was released on February 9, 2006 after serving his sentence.

Alamieyeseigha has also had a taste of the corrective sledge-hammer. On July 26, 2007, he pleaded guilty before a Nigerian court to six charges and was sentenced to two years in prison on each charge; however, because the sentences were set to run concurrently and the time was counted from the point of his arrest nearly two years before the sentences, his actual sentence was relatively short. Many of his assets were ordered to be forfeited to the Bayelsa state government. On July 27, just hours after being taken to prison, he was released due to time already served.

Former Delta state governor, James Ibori, escaped justice in Nigeria, but faced it abroad.
Former Delta state governor, James Ibori, escaped justice in Nigeria, but faced it abroad.

James Ibori, former Delta State governor cannot be left out of the list as he is currently serving jail term in London. In April 2010, an allegation of N40 billion ($266 million) money laundry was pressed against him. Attempts to arrest him were unsuccessful. It was reported that he fled from Abuja to Lagos and then to the creeks of Oghara, his homeland in the Niger Delta. Ibori later fled Nigeria, prompting the EFCC to request the assistance of Interpol. On the 27th of February, after being accused of stealing US$250 million from the Nigerian public purse, Ibori pleaded guilty to ten counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud at Southwark Crown Court, London. He was sentenced to thirteen years in jail by a London Judge. The sentence brought to an end the ex-governor’s long road to jail and earned him the repute of the first Nigerian politician to get a jail sentence abroad for stealing.

Although there are very few cases where the influential in our society are sentenced to prison by the law; one will hope that the law becomes a tool, not only for the rich but also for the poor.

Comments (0)

  1. Story..what of stella odua n allison madueke former nnpc director, are they in the prison as well? Abeg DSP shut up if you don’t ve anything good to say

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