Saharareporters can authoritatively report that the Umar Yar’adua machinery has perfected a plan to spare all corrupt ex-governors, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and top officials of his administration from prosecution for corrupt enrichment. Each official has been advised to scout a corrupt high court judge willing to issue an order restraining the official’s arrest or prosecution. Yar’adua’s attorney general will then order the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to desist from harassing any official who is protected by this “bought order,” revealed our source with insight into the workings of the Yar’adua “government.” Added the source: “I can tell you that a lot of former governors, ministers, special aides to Obasanjo and even the former president himself have paid off judges who have written such orders.”
As part of the general plot, Attorney General Michael Andoakaa met with Orji Kalu and James Ibori two weeks ago to guarantee them that the EFCC would be thoroughly emasculated. James Ibori, whose money laundering case in London is coming up in October, needed the Attorney General’s assurance that the EFCC will be reined in to prevent the anti-corruption agency feeding the London Metropolitan Police damaging information about Ibori’s massive looting of Delta State funds. Should Ibori lose the case in London, he faces the prospect of forfeiting his worldwide assets. A few weeks ago, the Southwark Crown Court in London ordered the assets frozen.
Andoakaa’s secret meeting with the two ex-governors was a follow up to an earlier meeting between Umar Musa Yar'adua, James Ibori, Orji Kalu and Peter Odili. The former governors asked Yar'adua to save their neck from what they referred to as a "rampaging EFCC".
The latest meetings took place after the collapse of Yar’adua’s initial attempt to emasculate the EFCC by stripping the agency of the power to prosecute corrupt public officials and individuals. Under that plan, the power to prosecute would be exercised solely by Aondakaa who had cut a deal with many corrupt former officials. That plan backfired when the public kicked against it, forcing the government to retreat. Even so, Yar'adua and the former governors did not abandon the idea but merely returned to the drawing board to come up with a different strategy.
After the second round of meetings with embattled former governors, James Ibori hopped on a plane to South Africa from where he disappeared into thin air. His escape, Saharareporters has learned, was at the instance of Yar’adua who asked him to watch the unfolding scenario from a safe distance. Yar’adua, whose campaign expenses were underwritten by Ibori to the tune of several billions of naira, is the biggest single beneficiary of James Ibori's loot.
The latest plot to checkmate the EFCC is well choreographed at the highest levels.
Orji Kalu's corruption trial is designed to be the first test of the plot. The attorney general reached an understanding with Kalu's lawyers to officially protest to him “about the EFCC’s high handedness and disregard for the principles of law and order.” Kalu’s lawyers wrote to Aondakaa claiming that the EFCC had disregarded an order by an Abia High Court presided over by a certain Justice Kalu(a relative of Orji Kalu) barring the EFCC from arresting the ex-governor after his immunity might have run out. Citing this alleged contempt for the courts, Kalu’s lawyers asked Aondakaa to order that, “in the interest of justice,” their client is discharged from trial.
The action whole ploy was arranged without the attorney general inviting the EFCC to state its side of the story. The attorney general replied almost immediately assuring Kalu's lawyers that he would intervene. He did by sending the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to appear in court without the benefit of being briefed on Kalu's case file or any prior consultation with the EFCC.
This curious action led to an open altercation in court between the EFCC's lawyer and the DPP. Following the public embarrassment and public relations disaster, the attorney general beat another retreat, but not until he had demanded that Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, head of EFCC, axe the agency’s lawyer with whom the DPP had had an altercation. He also asked that the EFCC apologize to his office for being "rude to the AGF".
Saharareporters has been reliably informed that when Orji Kalu’s case comes up tomorrow before the Federal High Court, the DPP is expected to file a nolle prosequi, indicating the government’s decision to halt Kalu’s prosecution. This move is to be made under the pretext that the current regime believes in the "rule of law".
Meanwhile, an examination of the so-called order by the Abia High Court shows that it contained nothing that should prevent the EFCC from arresting Orji Kalu for corruption. Instead, it was an order granting Orji Kalu "leave to enforce his fundamental human rights". A legal scholar who has studied the order told Saharareporters that it was so weak that Orji Kalu had to flee from Nigeria before the expiration of his tenure as Abia State governor. It is public knowledge that he handed over hurriedly to the current governor, Theodore Orji, three days before May 29, 2007. He then fled abroad.
Kalu returned to Nigeria only after Yar’adua promised him a position on the so-called Government of National Unity (GNU). Interestingly, Kalu’s lawyers never mentioned the so-called order of the Abia High Court after his arrest and arraignment before a Federal High court. A legal analyst told Saharareporters that if Orji Kalu was sure that the EFCC was violating a High Court order, his lawyers would have approached the same court to ask that the EFCC Chairman Nuhu Ribadu be committed to prison for contempt of court.
One inside source told Saharareporters that contrary to the AGF's position in his response to Orji Kalu's lawyers, the EFCC actually obtained a "warrant of arrest" from a Federal High Court judge before picking up the former governor. They also pointed to the exparte motion filed by Orji Kalu before another Federal High Court, where he sought the leave of the court to proceed on a non-existent surgery for his wife in a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.