Lawyers, major huddle before Buhari’s anti-graft war


Buhari and Nigeria Bar Association President, A. Alegeh

Lawyers, by their profession, are said to be major instruments needed to enhance smooth administration of justice, but as President Muhammadu Buhari appeals to them for support, MUDIAGA AFFE and GBENRO ADEOYE examines how they pose a threat to the anti-corruption war

Corruption in Nigeria has often been described as being widespread as no sector of the country’s economy can be said to be free of the scourge. It is a blot on Nigeria’s image and said to have hampered development of the country.

As a result, President Muhammadu Buhari, who made the fight against the menace one of the cardinal programmes of his administration, has initiated various measures to tackle the graft, going by a recent report that the President was planning to set up special courts in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory to aid the anti-corruption war.As regards anti-graft agencies, they are not in short supply in the country. Agencies like the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and the Code of Conduct Bureau have been charged with the responsibility of fighting corruption. But justice in cases involving corrupt practices has largely evaded people in the high echelons of politics and business in Nigeria. And lawyers are seen as the best allies to some of corrupt individuals, helping them to evade justice.

For instance, it is believed that lawyers deliberately stall the trials of some moneybags, including politicians, facing charges of corruption and abuse of office by using series of frivolous motions including stay of proceedings, adjournments, interim, interlocutory and perpetual injunctions.

This is because laws are complex and could sometimes be open to several interpretations, which some lawyers skillfully capitalise on to thwart or delay justice. Experts say lawyers often help their clients obtain court immunity and injunctions retraining the police and other security agencies from investigating or prosecuting them, thereby frustrating the wheel of justice.

An example is the trial of former Plateau State Governor, Joshua Dariye, for corruption charges, a case that has stalled in court since 2007.

In September 2004, British authorities in London arrested Dariye for alleged money laundering and seized about £90,000 in cash from him. Dariye allegedly skipped bail, fled to Nigeria and resumed his office as governor, which granted him immunity from prosecution.

When the governor’s term ended in 2007, the EFCC charged him with 14 counts of money laundering. But after eight years, Dariye’s trial has yet to start following different kinds of motions filed by his counsel.

First, Dariye’s lawyers filed a motion in November 2007, asking that all the charges against him be dismissed. Justice Adebukola Banjoko denied the motion, but his lawyers appealed the ruling. So, Banjoko halted the proceedings pending when Dariye’s appeal would be heard.

The appellant had contended that the Federal Capital Territory High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit since the alleged offences involved funds belonging the Plateau State Government.

He thus argued that he ought to have been tried in Jos and urged the court to quash the entire 23 counts preferred against the former governor.

Dariye’s appeal failed on every issue but by the time the ruling was handed down in June 2010, it had been three years since he first appeared in court.

In December 2010 when Banjoko announced that Dariye’s trial would commence in January 2011, his counsel stood up to announce that another appeal had been filed with the Supreme Court. The court halted the proceedings again until the appeal would be heard. But the Supreme Court in February 2015 dismissed Dariye’s interlocutory appeal which had stalled his trial since 2007.

Justice Sylvester Ngwuta who delivered the lead judgement described the scenario played out in the entire case as a “sad commentary” on Nigeria’s fight against corruption.

In a unanimous judgement by the five-man panel, the court ordered the accused to return to the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Gudu, Abuja, to face his trial.

The Supreme Court described as unmeritorious, Dariye’s appeal against the earlier decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, on his preliminary objection challenging the competence of the charges instituted against him and the jurisdiction of the FCT High Court to entertain the suit.

Justice Chima Nweze, while concurring with the judgement, also frowned on the attitude of politically exposed persons to deploy tactics to delay corruption cases instituted against them, as exemplified in Dariye’s case.

He held, “I have noticed a most worrying trend in most recent time, particularly among the politically exposed citizens of this great country, imagining that they are above the laws of the land, have perfected some awkward and baseless tactics of delaying their trial when they run into conflict with the law.

“The appellant in this appeal falls into this category. In 2007, about eight years ago, leave was granted to the respondent to prefer charges against him. He was duly arraigned before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.

“On November 13, the date set aside for the prosecution to marshal its witnesses, he implored the trial court to quash the charges against him on the grounds that the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to hear and determine the charges.

“When the application was dismissed, he proceeded to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which held and dismissed his appeal. Instead of returning to the trial court to face his trial, he appealed against the lower court’s judgment. I agree that this appeal is unmeritorious.”

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had, on July 13, 2007, arraigned the former governor on 23 counts of money laundering and other corruption charges allegedly involving “billions of naira” belonging to the Plateau State Government.

The agency had also accused the former governor of among others, diversion of about N1.2bn of the state’s ecological funds into a private account.

When a suspected oil subsidy thief, Mr. Seun Ogunbambo, was arrested by the EFCC in 2012, it was discovered that he had earlier jumped bail after being arraigned for suspected identity fraud, bank fraud and other related offences. Ogunbambo had allegedly collected a loan facility worth over N430m from a bank between February and September 2009.

After being denied bail in the matter by a Lagos High Court, Ogunbambo had approached another court to secure the bail.

Once after failing to appear in court, his lawyer, Raphael Oluyede, had told the court that he was absent because he had been attacked by some gunmen, who had wanted to abduct him.

But some months later, in a separate case involving Ogunbambo, Oluyede said he did not know the whereabouts of his client, telling the court that the last time he saw Ogunbambo, he had sustained an injury which affected his spinal cord.

Oluyede said since then, he had been unable to reach him because of his injury and the nature of his treatment. He however asked the court to grant him leave to discontinue his representation of Ogunbambo.

At the time, the EFCC claimed it had information that Ogunbambo, who was also charged with N979.6m subsidy fraud, had jumped bail and fled the country to Canada.

EFCC counsel, Emmanuel Oluyede, had described Ogunbambo’s actions as “an abuse of court process” capable of making “criminal law look like a toothless bulldog.”

According to reports, Oginbambo has not been sighted in the country since then.

Meanwhile, according to the Human Rights Watch in a 2011 paper titled ‘Corruption on Trial? The Record of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’, lawyers’ tactics at delaying trials pose a major threat to the country’s fight against corruption.

The report also noted that cases of corruption against many former governors have been pending for years, as far back as 2007.

Buhari seems to agree with the assertion of HRW, considering his address at the 55th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Abuja recently.

There, the President urged lawyers not to sacrifice the integrity of Nigeria’s legal system for money.

At the gathering, Buhari said, “First, we need to make our courts functional and effective again. This means that we must have lawyers who take the ethics of the profession very seriously; lawyers who will not frustrate the course of justice, even though they defend their clients with all legitimate means and resources.

“Nigeria needs ethical lawyers who always keep the end of justice in mind and will never sacrifice the integrity of the legal system to cover the misdeeds of their clients, no matter how lucrative the brief may be.”

However, in his reaction, the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Debo Adeniran, urged Buhari to do more than appeal to the lawyers’ moral conscience.

Adeniran described criminal justice in Nigeria as being lax, noting that courts are not being properly supervised by the National Judicial Council.

He said, “Beyond that, Buhari should empower the NJC to observe all court proceedings and ensure that anybody who deliberately delays adjudication or wastes the time of the court should face the music.

“Sources of income of lawyers should be investigated because they are the conduits through which some of the looters and corrupt elements launder money. They write receipts for the consultancy they didn’t do at exorbitant rates. That is why you see some of them hands in gloves with corrupt elements.”

Also, Adeniran urged the government to put a cap on the amount of money a lawyer can receive as legal fee per case, saying “it should not be limitless.”

He said, “If a few of them lose their practicing licences, they will sit tight. If the lawyer knows that there is a third eye looking at proceedings, they will also want to take heed and ensure they don’t engage in any fraudulent practice to circumvent the course of justice. All these frivolous applications and the challenging of jurisdiction should stop.”

Also, a lawyer and social commentator, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, said that corrupt lawyers and judges only function in an environment permissive of corruption.

“Now that we have a President that says that he wants to fight corruption, once that tone is set, it is likely that lawyers and any other person will take a cue and will be ashamed of what they were doing before to frustrate the prosecution of criminal cases.”

He called for the reformation of Nigeria’s criminal procedure law, however, adding that the recent promulgation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act would go a long way to curb the problem.

Ogunye said the Act should be domesticated in all states of the country to encourage an effective justice system.

He said, “More than that, all the interlocutory applications that were allowed by the extant criminal procedure laws have now been abolished by the new act. Now, we have a situation where lawyers object everything.

“But with the Act, you will be allowed to raise your objection, argue it, but you cannot appeal it.”

The lawyer also noted that Buhari’s appeal to the legal professionals should not be misunderstood to mean that lawyers should not defend persons charged with criminal cases.

He said, “The president was saying that there is a distinction between defending a criminal suspect and fabricating defence for him and doing unethical things in order to outsmart the justice system, confuse the issue and subvert the course of justice.”

He however called for the punishment of lawyers found to be delaying the course of justice, saying Buhari’s appeal alone would not deter them.

“It’s embarrassing that a former military man is the one telling lawyers to fight corruption because we should be the ones championing the cause as lawyers,” he said.

Meanwhile, with less than 50 days to the end of its mandatory 180 days to give judgment on cases before it, the National and state Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Cross River State has warned lawyers that it will no longer tolerate delays.

The tribunal, presided over by Justice Christopher Awubra, had during the commencement of sitting on May 12 warned lawyers to desist from making frivolous applications and requests for unnecessary adjournments.

Source: The PUNCH.


EFCC preliminary report on Fashola ready —CACOL claims

Written by:
Lanre Adewole – Lagos

A preliminary investigative report on the financial dealings of the administration of former Governor Babatunde Fashola is reportedly ready with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The disclosure was by the Chief Executive of anti-corruption advocacy group, Coalition Against Corruption (CACOL), Mr Debo Adeniran in an exclusive interview with the Nigerian Tribune, on Tuesday.
Adeniran claimed that the chairman of the anti-corruption agency, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde gave him the information when they both met penultimate Tuesday. Continue reading “EFCC preliminary report on Fashola ready —CACOL claims”

Tinubu is not our sponsor, says CACOL

August 26, 2015 : Ramon Oladimeji

   The Executive Chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said on Tuesday that contrary to some people’s belief, the group was not doing the bidding of a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu

CACOL, which recently called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to give Tinubu’s successor, Babatunde Fashola, any ministerial appointment having spent N78.3m to upgrade his personal website while in office, said it was not being used by Tinubu against Fashola.

Adeniran, who addressed journalists in Lagos on Tuesday alongside leaders of other Civil Society Organisations, said CACOL had investigated Tinubu but could not pin any evidence of corruption on him.

He, however, said the group’s battle with Fashola was yet a long-drawn one, saying that the battle had got to the point of no return.

He said, “Bola Ahmed Tinubu was arraigned at the level of the Code of Conduct Tribunal and a number of allegations have been levelled against him. We even helped to amplify some of these allegations.

“When Bola went to court and obtained an injunction, we said that was not satisfactory to us; we said that Bola should come to the open to defend the allegations that the PDP levelled against him. We said that was the only way he could be seen not to be guilty as alleged, but nobody has been able to prove the allegations.

“We actually went out and tried to verify some of the companies that they said belonged to Bola. We couldn’t find his name on the list of the directors of some of these companies. We didn’t find his name at the Lands Registry; we didn’t find his name at the Ministry of Housing and all that. A lot of people think that we have a godfather in him, it is not true. We looked at him eyeball to eyeball and said ‘go and defend yourself.”

Adeniran, however, reiterated his call on Buhari not to give Fashola any appointment, saying CACOL had found from Fashola’s antecedents that he was anti-people.

Source: The Punch.

Fashola Appropriated N78m For Personal Aggrandisement –Adeniran

Debo Adeniran, social crusader and Chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), is a leading critic of former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola. He recently urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to consider Fashola for appointment over the unexplained financial transactions of Lagos under his watch. In this interview with TUNDE OPESEITAN, he gave reasons for his actions. Excerpts:

How would you react to the allegation that about N78.3 million was spent for website upgrade by the immediate past regime in Lagos State?

Comrade Debo Adeniran
Comrade Debo Adeniran

When the news broke that he (Fashola) spent about $400, 000 to upgrade his website, we initially thought he brought out the money from his private account, but when we now checked on the website of the Lagos State Public Procurement Commission, we discovered that N78. 3 million of public fund was spent. Then we cross-checked on word press and our findings revealed that the most expensive website in the world today is around N600, 000. We then queried the firm that handled the upgrade and that was when they came out with the revelation that they only collected N10 million. Actually they wanted N12 million, but N10 million was paid. So, the question that arose is where is N68.3 million that is the difference between N10 million paid for the job and N78.3 million that was approved to which the Lagos State official website claimed was paid for the service? So, it is not so much about insisting that somebody has stolen the money; we are just saying that the chief accounting officer of that regime should give us explanation on where the N68.3 million is. He should tell us what they did with the money whether it was returned to the coffers of the state government and why should it be that the governor would spend so much money to finance his own personal website? It is immaterial that the website was meant to showcase the achievement of the gentleman, but the state as an institution has its own website and the question is why would that not be enough? Why couldn’t they have created a section of the state website to showcase these achievements? Afterall everything that the state website contains must be the achievements of the regime in power during that period. So, why should they create another website for the governor in his own personal name because the website was not created as governor of Lagos state but in the name of Babatunde Raji Fashola? That is why we are worried that that could have been appropriated for personal aggrandizement.


You were one of the major voices that questioned the integrity of Governor Fashola while in office. Why did you walked along that line when it seemed unpopular to do so?

If you remember in 2009 and early 2010, there was this publication by the True Face of Lagos questioning the contracts that were awarded and some that were re-awarded. The group had alleged that the contracts were massively inflated and when we saw it, we were alarmed. Then, the state government’s response was not satisfying to the extent that they said the True Face of Lagos was a faceless group and the rest of them. We now said it does not matter who pushed such allegation to the public and that the most important thing was for the government to state whether the allegations were true or not. If they were not true, state your position about it. We then wrote the state government and they failed to respond. When we waited for so long and there was no response, we then wrote the Lagos State House of Assembly asking that they should probe themselves because they were also indicted in the same publication and probe the executive. When the House of Assembly picked up the issue and set up a committee to probe the allegations, Richard Akinola went to court using the late Bamidele Aturu to challenge that and they got an injunction stopping the House from going ahead with the proceeding in the probe of the allegations. But we were not satisfied by that because if the regime, as headed by Tunde Raji Fashola had nothing to hide, it was not the court that they ought to have headed for; they ought to have opted for explanation. But when that explanation was not forthcoming and the House had been stopped from proceeding, we now wrote another petition that was sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). We adopted the one for the EFCC after we were invited. Now, by the end of February of 2010 when we did not get any serious response, we gathered our information and put it as an advertorial in a newspaper and still no response came from government because we said if they had anything to defend in the allegation, they should respond. And when they failed to respond for so long, we took it as a notorious fact and that was why we also went back to EFCC to say look these people have not defended anything; why have you decided not to prosecute them? They told us that they had started inviting principal officers of the regime and that they have started questioning them. That we did for so long and when we did not get any usable answer, we went to town and invited five people from each of the then twenty Local Governments to the Institute of Medical Research in Yaba in what we called Lagos Open Parliament and there we raised the question that each representative should tell us their impression of government’s performance in their Local Governments and there were tale of woes and our reaction was that this was a governor that was being carried as being performing. Remember, that was about the time he had just done something in Oshodi and we knew that what he did in Oshodi was not a state government’s job because it was about re-arranging the motor parks, markets and the road there is of the Federal Government. The only thing you can say belong to the state is may be the flyover. We were of the opinion that this was a local government function that had been usurped by the state government with the view to get popular support. So, at the Lagos parliament, we administered questionnaires on the people and the response was in the negative. We were still not satisfied and we went to town to administer the questionnaires in all the local governments; we monitored the radio programmes; we monitored newspapers, internet and so on, and we got our responses. We went to town and we took photographs of the site we believed that things were not properly done. We prepared our findings into a manuscript and we even sent to the state government and also called a press conference. Still, there was no response and gradually we got our members together and compiled our findings into a book and we called it “Open Parliament 1,” the state of budgetary implementation in Lagos, 2009 to 2011 or thereabout. We sent copies to the state government and still, there was no response and then we were now wondering how a state government can be so snobbish. It was at that point that we declared protest without end and since then, it had been protest after protest in different formats. From what journalists published in the media, internet and so on, we compiled them into a book and termed it “Open Parliament 2.” We also sent it to the state government and there was no reaction. We even wrote under the Freedom of Information Act and the Ministry of Justice replied us that the FOI Act is not operative in Lagos, being a federal legislation. And the most annoying aspect was that Lagos was the centre of activities that led to the enactment of FOI Act. Fashola’s predecessor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu was part of the struggle for the emergence of FOI Act and it was worrisome that the same state under Fashola was now championing the sabotage of the FOI Act. So, the major reasons why we asked the presidency not to consider Fashola for appointment is because if a man that was that snobbish at the state level could be appointed into higher federal office, then it would not be too good. Fashola never believed in a law that sought to enhance transparency, openness, probity and participatory governance, and such a man does not deserve higher appointment.                        

How would you react to the allegation that you are being sponsored to rubbish Fashola at all cost?

Well, that is the normal thing you hear when things are like this. When people commit indefensible offences and you expose them, you are bound to hear something of such. Even if I’m being sponsored to raise critical questions that you have not been able to answer, why not? Infact, I will like to be sponsored to do what I love to do. The question is not about who is the messenger, the question is about the message. But I should tell you, nobody sponsored us. If we had gotten people to sponsor us, we would have done a better book; we would have had enough copies to circulate to everybody in Lagos; we would have been able to buy newspapers’ pages and advertise the book beyond what anybody can stop; we would have done so much more than what you are hearing. Because of paucity of resources, we compiled one book for almost three years. The second book we compiled it for more than two years. If we have sponsors, all of these things could be done within six months or less and we have done it in greater quantity. To directly answer your question, nobody sponsored us, but we would be glad if we have sponsors.

In the past few months, the EFCC has suddenly woken up to its responsibility. How do you see this?

That is the kind of reaction you get from the body language of the present regime. There is no agency that can be more effective than the regime that sets it up. That is why people say he who pays the piper dictate the tune. There is no agency that will not study the body language of the regime that puts it together before it acts and so it is because they saw the pedigree and antecedents of the president in power now that is simply making them to be alive to their duty. I believe that they are yet to be empowered the way they should because we at the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders have advocated that the anti-corruption agencies should be strengthened; they should be better funded; they should be better trained; they should be better equipped; they should be better protected because they are also exposed to so much danger while they carry out their assignments, but that has not been done. The body language of the present regime is to the effect that they are going to get enormous support from the regime if they do their work and that is why they are doing what they are doing and that is why we think what they are doing is good.

Talking about body language, so many people have criticized President Buhari and his vice, Prof Yemi Osinbajo for failing to declare their assets publicly. Is that not a direct departure from their anti-corruption posture?         

Well, we are one of those critics. Our criticism of Buhari regime is that he entered a covenant with us that within the first hundred days, he would do it. Granted that the end of the first hundred days has not come, but we believe that he could have started on the right tooting by ensuring that the Assets Declaration Form which he filled got to the press even before it got to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). No law would have been violated by so doing. Now, if they don’t have anything to hide, they ought to have done it. If they now make it public there, the credibility that would have been achieved is no longer there because they have assumed power and they have assumed influence that could overwhelm even the CCB to play things down. If they had done it immediately they were sworn-in, it would have been more acceptable. But largely, the subsequent actions have been okay.

Source: Daily Independent.

Fashola: We’re ready to wrestle with pigs for accountability —CACOL leader


The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) recently wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari warning him not to elevate the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola. CACOL’s Executive Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran, speaks with MOSES ALAO, on why the group is on the trail of the former governor and the need for accountability in Nigeria’s body-politic. Excerpts:

RECENTLY, the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, accused your organisation of writing a preemptive letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, raising allegations that have not been proven. Why did CACOL write a letter that appears to be targeted at stopping Fashola from being appointed into Buhari’s cabinet at this point?

You are wrong. The effort to get Mr Babatunde Fashola to be accountable started in 2009.


But the fact that you wrote that letter to the president now is suspect. Why is CACOL on Fashola’s trail at a point that he is likely to be appointed by the president? How many other likely appointees did you write to Buhari about?

We cannot work on everybody. There are certain things that have obvious answers. It is only those that we know that we can work on. When you talk about why we are on Fashola’s trail, you just need to look at the need to hold our leaders accountable. CACOL is not being sponsored by the state; it is our members that contribute the funds that we utilise to do the little that we can do; so we only take one step at a time.

We are in Lagos and we are witnesses to the budgetary presentations year in year out, which can be put at an average of N500 billion yearly. We know that international organisations like UNESCO, WHO and World Bank, among others, contributed to some of the projects that are supposed to have been executed in Lagos, especially in the areas of provision of water, drainage system and aesthetic, that is citing of ornamental plants and so on were also done with contributions from corporate organisations, which are in abundance in Lagos. So, when we pieced all of these together, we discovered that more than N5 trillion could have been budgeted for and expended in Lagos in the past eight years by the government headed by Mr Fashola. We moved round Lagos and we discovered that there were no adequate signs that such amount of money was properly utilised. We suspected that as early as 2009. By February 2010, we wrote the first petition, after we had been frustrated, having tried in vain to see everyone that needed to be seen for explanation. We wrote that petition to the Lagos State House of Assembly and we submitted it in a public protest that was covered by the mass media. The House set up a panel to investigate the claims in the petition, but the state government went to court by proxy, using Richard Akinnola; the late Bamidele Aturu was his lawyer. They succeeded in getting an injunction restraining the House from proceeding with the investigation. If a governor does not have anything to hide, why is it difficult for him to allow an investigation by an arm of the same government and just present his side of the story?

Remember also that a group called the True Face of Lagos came up with damning allegations about the financial recklessness of the Fashola’s administration. But he didn’t defend himself or state his own side of the story; he only said the group was faceless. It got to a stage that we went round all the locations that the True Face of Lagos mentioned and we decided to give a face to what they did; so we adopted their petition and sent it to the governor to give us their response, but they did not respond.


Can you remember when you sent that petition?

That was in 2010 but we didn’t get anything. Out of frustration, we wrote to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the commission claimed that it had got our petition and that it invited some directors and other top officials. The commission claimed it got a detailed report, which it would not release to us because Fashola had immunity. Out of frustration, also, we went to town, called representatives of all the local governments together in a hall and we called in Lagos Open Parliament. Through that platform, we got reports from each local government about how the government was able to implement the appropriation law, how effective or otherwise it was. We administered questionnaires and the entries were recorded. We gave at least 2,000 questionnaires to each local government, retrieved the ones we could and analysed them. We monitored mass media and social media reportage of budget performance and we gathered that the implementation was far less than expected. We didn’t stop at that; we took photographs of areas where expectations of the people were not met and we put all our findings in a book. We also monitored the internet and we compiled these findings into a book we called ‘Lagos Open Parliament: A report of the underground assessment of the state of budgetary implementation on infrastructural development in Lagos State between May 2007 and May 2011.’ The book can be accessed on our website. It contains pictures, data, graphs, tables and so on. But after all of these, we thought that we could be wrong and so we sent copies to the government; but I must tell you that we had even sent manuscripts to the government before publishing the book, telling them that if they had any defence to make, they should do it. We started updating that book through the same process. We also kept on reminding the anti-corruption agencies every year but they didn’t give us the feedback we desired; we were waiting and complaining. We grumbled about why everyone should ignore us when we had presented how expectations of people were not met and no one explained why government was right and we had been wrong. After that frustration, we vowed that it would be protest without end.


But it is appearing as if CACOL just woke up at the prompting of some people to hunt Fashola.

That is not correct. If you could recall, before the last general elections, we had a public demonstration, warning the Lagos public not to vote for Mr Akinwumi Ambode, because he was coming from the same stock with Fashola. It was also at that time that we asked former Governor Bola Tinubu to come out in the open and defend all the allegations against him in the documentary aired on AIT. We told him that rather than go to court to stop the documentary, he should defend himself in the open on allegations the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) levelled against him, because the court has always been deployed as a tool to keep others quiet about issues. Unfortunately, we didn’t get anything out of those efforts.

So, when elections came and went, we knew that President Buhari, whose election we supported because of his pedigree, antecedent, personality and integrity he exudes, would be able to fight corruption. But when we saw this gentleman, Fashola, dancing around the president, following him everywhere and fraternising with him, we suspected that he could have been lobbying the president for a post and we knew that would be dangerous for Nigerians’ collective wellbeing.


Why did you think so?

You would recall that Lagos State was a theatre of activism during the clamour for the Freedom of Information Act. But we wrote to the Lagos State government back then, asking them to give us all the information we needed regarding the corruption allegations based on FOI Act and the state that was governed by Fashola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), replied us through its Ministry of Justice that the FOI law passed by the order of the National Assembly was not applicable to Lagos. We were taken aback then and that was why we said if Fashola had his way to the federal level, he would discourage the federal government from engaging in pro-people governance. He is not likely to allow transparency, accountability and probity. He might even work towards the repealing of the FOI Act. So, it was on that basis that we had to write Buhari that instead of elevating Fashola, he should get him investigated and possibly prosecuted. That was the basis of our letter.


But Fashola made a reference to some pigs somewhere who he would not like to wrestle with. Is CACOL sponsored by some anti-Fashola elements to stop him from being appointed into office?

Look at it from this angle, if you want pork, won’t you wrestle with a pig and make sure it dies? CACOL wants a piece of pork and that pork is to make our leaders remember that they are accountable to the people, who are the owners of the sovereignty. That is what we are doing and we are going to wrestle this pig into submission and we will not allow the pig to go into our barn, because it will destroy everything it finds there.

I want to tell you that if we had been sponsored since 2009, we would have been able to fight him more frontally than we are doing. He would not have been able to cover his tracks. It is because we had no access to government shelves that we have not been able to compel the anti-graft agencies to prosecute him. If we were sponsored, we would have been able to mobilise Lagosians and we would have been able to buy media spaces to make our points. As I am speaking with you, CACOL is not sponsored by anyone; we do not have money, but we have intellect; we have the know-how; we have the spirit of activism, patriotism and progressivism and these are driving us. We believe that someone must stand for what is right. That is what obtains in Nigeria, whenever anyone says anything against a top personality, such person will be accused of being sponsored.


The former governor said the allegations against him could not be substantiated, that you have no evidence.

It took us five years to get facts and reports that we have published and he has failed to ever respond to. So what is the evidence that we are being sponsored? Fashola said we did not have any evidence, when every top civil servant in government had been sworn to secrecy not provide any evidence. The only statute we could use to compel the MDAs to give evidence had been made ineffective in Lagos and what we did was to go into the fields and question how contracts were awarded and executed even when the facilities were nowhere to be found.


But he said his job was done, having served the state for 12 years.

Which job was done? Is it roads? Is it schools? Is it hospitals that we will talk about? There is nothing that is not in a bad state in Lagos; there is always flood anytime there is a heavy rain; the drainage system is too shallow. Fashola started building on the lagoon, go and look at what they are doing at Ilubirin and what they call the Atlantic City. Is that what Lagos needs? Why is the money spent on the cable bridge in Ikoyi not utilised on an expressway that will run from Ikorodu to Epe and back to Lekki so that people could move freely, because that is the axis where people who only depend on their ingenuity to earn a tuning for themselves are. But their roads are bad; there is no security in Lagos. Security of lives and properties is in a shambles. So, what can we not talk about? If anyone says someone is sponsoring CACOL, we are happy that we are being sponsored to do what is right; but I can tell you that we are only being sponsored by our members who contribute what they have towards emancipating people from physical and moral enslavement they were subjected to by the administration of Fashola and we are not going to stop at anything but to achieve freedom for them.


Finally, do you subscribe to the claim in some quarters that the current fight against corruption is selective?

There is no way the corrupt elements will not complain that the anti-graft agencies’ war is selective; even when you publish a story, they will accuse you. How come you won’t select? Once it is only those who perpetrated corruption that are being selected, we are happy with that. If it is only those corrupt elements on whom we have adequate evidence and witnesses that are being selected, Nigerians will be happy with that. Inasmuch as no innocent person can come out to claim that he is being wrongly prosecuted, you cannot prevent elements that are drowning from clutching to any available means, even straws, in order to discredit any effort towards bringing them to justice. Everyone who has perpetrated corruption must rot in jail. Unless we all put our acts together to kill corruption, corruption will kill us. We should not allow corruption to kill us. We should banish corruption.

Source: Sunday Tribune.

Special courts needed for corruption cases –CACOL

Adeniran: Why we’re fighting Fashola

Adeniran: Why we’re fighting Fashola

Comrade Debo Adeniran, a human rights activist and anti-corruption crusader is the chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL). In this interview with TEMITOPE OGUNBANKE, he speaks on President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to the fight against corruption, graft allegations against former governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, among other issues

What is your take on former Governor Babatunde Fashola’s defence on the controversial N78 million website design?

What concerns us more is the issue of suspected corruption embedded in the award and execution of contracts in the regime of Babatunde Fashola as illuminated by the award of this N78.3 million website contract. Every Information Technology (IT) person our organisation, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), contacted put a bloated estimate of the cost of the website at about N6 million. We are not surprised that a contract that could have cost N6 million ballooned to N78.3 million, because that is a trademark of Fashola’s administration.

The website contract is an eye-opener and lending credence to the allegations of the ‘True Face of Lagos’ where most of the contracts awarded before 2010 were said to have been immorally inflated by the Fashola-led administration. If the former governor could be justifying the cost of his personal website, no matter what he uses it for, then there may be many more shenanigans to be unearthed by the relevant anti-graft agencies.

As a matter of fact, we see it as a way by which the former governor laundered at least N68.3 million out of the state coffers because the firm that put that website together had insisted that it only collected N10 million.

We are not supposed to be IT specialists, neither are we going to go deeper into the analysis of the content, but from the look of things, the use of the website is only opened to the initiates, so of what use is a N78.3 million website when several other developmental needs of the Lagos people he claimed he was ruling were begging for attention? It is absurd that whereas Lagos State has its own website, the MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) have their own websites; Mr. Fashola could still host another website, not as the Governor of Lagos, but in his own name with taxpayers’ money. This means that the entire N78.3 million was spent on the need of the former governor.

The website is not our priority because until the story broke out a few days back, many of the middle class elements that are major users of internet do not know that the website was existing, which means that the priority had been misplaced. Only God knows how many of such expenditures would have been incurred on the part of the government. The basis of our petitions was to get Fashola investigated of all alleged corrupt cases and if possible prosecuted.

But the former governor has described people like you and his accusers as pigs. How do you feel about this?

Mr. Fashola has mentioned pig, but we are no pigs. Since they are, we won’t mind fighting the pigs to get the pork.

The history of integrity and the outcome of such accountability would be the stain-removal that will remove the stain we could have gotten from fighting the pig. And until the pigs are brought down and we extract the pork, which is accountability we require from them, it would be protests without end. Truth is a muddy puddle and when the puddle is hit with the staff it splashes multidirectional.

It then behoves those who get stained in the wake to clean themselves up by rendering account of their stewardship on why they make supposed clean water dirty. If we must cut the pork out of the federal and state budgets, we shouldn’t stop at anything but get the pig out of the barn. This pig must be banished from our barn.

Your petition was seen as a means to stop expected federal appointment of the former governor into Muhammadu Buhari-led administration. Now, that Fashola has said that he is not looking for a job, are you satisfied?

Of course he is looking for a job because his body language has told us that he is looking for a job and the way he dances around President Buhari shows that he is trying to warm himself into the heart of Buhari. It has been rumoured from different quarters and that was how the rumour also started when he was to become a governor and eventually he became the governor. Fashola’s arrogance didn’t start today; it started since the day he was the Chief of Staff to former Governor Bola Tinubu.

This was how the rumour started that he would be his Chief of Staff and it eventually translated to the truth. In the second coming of Fashola as governor, we said because he was not accountable in the first term of office, he should not be allowed a second term, but he got it. So, we don’t want to leave any stone unturned. We are just informing the president that this man has a number of socio-political and moral questions to answer over the way he governed Lagos and until he discharges himself of such lingering questions, he should not be given a new appointment.

How do you see determination of President Buhari to probe those who have looted the nation’s treasury?

His anti-corruption programme so far has been so good. He has said that he is going to probe the immediate past administration. His decision is in the right direction and a way to start but beyond that he should look out pending petitions with the anti-corruption agencies and the ones with the presidency itself and ensure that every petition is investigated and reacted to in such a way that the petitioner will not feel let down.

That is the way by which the public will support the effort of government towards the eradication of corruption in Nigerian. He also needs to rework the books especially the legal criminal justice system that make it possible for corrupt people to delay the period of adjudication into their cases for as long as they wish.

There should be a time limit during which such hearing would be done and any lawyer that waste the time of the court should know that if it is discovered that it is a deliberate action, would be sanctioned. Any judge that allows frivolous applications when it is unnecessary should also be sanctioned. This means that there should be a commission that will oversee the adjudication into all of these criminal cases to ensure that no judge or lawyer participates in deliberate time-wasting venture.

What is your take on the setting up of Prof. Itse Sagay-led Presidential Advisory Committee on corruption?

With the calibre of people in the anti-corruption committee, we believe that the committee is a good pedestal to set a template for the regime to fight corruption. It is worthy to, however, note that it is not the absence of a good template or theoretical basis that anticorruption fight has been difficult in Nigeria; it is because of lack of political will, which also dampens the spirit of the public against the fight against corruption.

The committee, if allowed to do its duties without interference from any quarters, will confer credibility on the present regime and will also enhance the public confidence in the regime to fight corruption.

What is important is that the judiciary should be sanitised; the anti-corruption agencies should be strengthened with funds, equipment and training. There should also be protection and security of lives of the investigators and their relatives. If that is done, the anti-corruption agencies would be able to do diligent prosecution in the court of justice.

How would you react to the position of the General Abdulsalam Abubakar-led peace committee, especially that of Bishop Matthew Kukah that President Buhari should focus more on governance and not be distracted by his corruption fight?

They cannot constitute themselves into an alternative advisory platform unless Nigerians approve of them and the advice has been helping the aspirations of Nigerians. It doesn’t matter what method of strategy the administration adopted, no individuals or groups of individuals should dissuade the present government from examining the books of its predecessors. Nobody stopped the predecessors from probing the governments before them and if they didn’t do it, they would be creating more problems for everybody in this country.

They should also not forget that Nigerians voted for the change mantra of the present ruling party and they have to do everything they want to, even in fighting against corruption in clear departure of what the previous government has done.

Hitherto, the government that they are pleading on behalf condones corruption instead of fighting corruption by every action that they took during their regime. That should not be allowed to continue. So, the committee should not go beyond its bound. It is not speaking for majority of Nigerians; it is speaking for itself and those who set it up not the Nigerians.

Source: New Telegraph.

Corruption allegations, blot on Fashola’s administration



Mr. Babatunde Fashola

Explanation by a former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, on how the N78m he approved for the upgrade of his personal website is considered unsatisfactory, FISAYO FALODI writes

Admirers of a former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, if given the opportunity, will like to roll out the drums and celebrate their hero for the successful completion of two terms in office. They will like to use various yardsticks to assess his two tenures in office and come to the conclusion that the 13th governor of Lagos State had fulfilled his electioneering promises to the people.

They will, no doubt, hail the former governor for serving the people meritoriously while in office. The admirers will like to point to the several accolades he won for the various programmes executed by his administration. They will also like to mention the fact that some of his policies were testimonies of his excellent performance.

To some watchers of political events in the state, Fashola’s administration marked a historic turning point in Lagos since the state was created on May 27, 1967. Of the former governors’ achievements while in office,supporter picked five as most significant.

They hailed the former governor for personally overseeing the battle to contain the spread of the deadly Ebola virus brought into the country by a United States-Liberian citizen, Patrick Sawyer, in the state and investment in education leading to the reintegration and creation of new blocks of classrooms, distribution of free text books and provision of workrooms and libraries as outstanding achievements.

Other Fashola’s achievements, according to them, are renewal of infrastructure culminating in the construction of many roads, building pedestrian bridges, execution of over 110 projects in rural communities and prioritising of security with emphasis on turning hideouts that previously served as bases for impostors and armed robbers into beautiful environment. They also listed the establishment of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund to effectively finance the security needs of the state as a major feat achieved by the ex-governor.

Based on the widely proclaimed catalogue of achievements by Fashola, some analysts are already speculating that President Muhammadu Buhari may appoint the former governor as one of his ministers.

But as plausible as the conjecture sounds, critics believe that Fashola has to answer some questions bordering on integrity and how he managed public resources while he was in office as the governor. The critics alleged that the former governor’s hands were not clean in terms of management of public funds and asked Buhari not to consider him for appointment in his yet-to-be-formed cabinet.

Like Fashola’s admirers who catalogued his achievements for likely appointment as a minister, a civil society group, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, also felt that the former governor deserved no higher responsibility because his administration was engulfed in many controversies that could not be overlooked.

CACOL Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, listed what he considered as Fashola’s “sin” to include failure by the former governor to fix the dilapidated public schools in the state and his refusal to disclose how his administration spent the $200m World Bank education fund even when the Socio-Economic Right Accountability Project invoked the Freedom of Information Act to know how the money was expended.

He said instead, Fashola ran the state’s affairs in secrecy by claiming that the FOI Act did not apply to state governments.

While insisting that Fashola should be made to account for the alleged moral and financial misconducts that characterised his administration, Adeniran said independent investigations by CACOL revealed that the 1.36km Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge reportedly built for N25bn actually cost only N6bn.

He, however, wondered why the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ignored the series of petitions he said he had written to the anti-graft body to probe the various projects Fashola claimed to have executed in the face of the over N500bn debt left behind by his administration.

Based on its finding, CACOL wrote a letter to the President, asking him not to consider Fashola for ministerial appointment while constituting his cabinet.

The group’s letter to Buhari had read, “Mr. President, we are constrained at this point in time to bring to your attention our critical reaction to the unbridled speculation making the rounds for some time now, from the members of the public as well as the media, as to the fact that the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, is being considered by the Presidency for higher national responsibility. Feelers have it that his name is prominent on the list of the president’s nominees for key offices in your administration.

“It is gratifying that you have promised at various fora that your appointments would be purely based on merit and that tested technocrats, with impeccable records, would be given their rightful places in your administration, as a way of ensuring good governance to the people of Nigeria.

“It is against this background that our organisation is appealing to you to please take the pains to dig deep into Mr. Babatunde Fashola’s record of performance as well as that of financial impropriety on the part of his government while in office.”

Besides allegation by CACOL, the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency claimed that the former governor approved the sum of N78m for the upgrade of his personal website in 2014.

What made the revelation an attention-grabbing one, according to observers, was that it was published by the state’s agency. The observers therefore doubted that the revelation was meant to malign the former governor’s reputation, contrary to a claim by Fashola’s aides that it was a campaign of calumny against the former governor’s chances in Buhari’s cabinet.

The contract for the upgrade of the website was awarded to Info Access Plus Limited by the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Governor.

The expenditure published on the state public procurement office’s website was first exposed by foremost budget analytic firm, BudgiT.

Other questionable expenditure, among others, said to have been incurred by Fashola’s administration included N1.2bn vaguely spent on the construction of pedestrian bridges along Eti-Osa Lekki-Epe Expressway. The spending was tagged “vaguely” because it did not specify the number of bridges constructed with the money.

Following these revelations, BudgiT called for probe into Fashola’s finances and expenditures while in office.

The Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party described the N78m spent on the website upgrade as reckless, adding that it was part of the “needless” expenditure that jerked up the Lagos State debt profile under Fashola to N500bn.

The state PDP Publicity Secretary, Mr. Taofik Gani, while stressing that Fashola spent the tax payers’ money on a website that exclusively served him, also asked Buhari to initiate moves to probe the former governor, instead of considering him for appointment.

Gani said, “The website was more than 70 times the actual cost. Little wonder it is on record that he is the former governor that incurred the highest debt in the history of Lagos State.”

But Fashola defended the N78.3m approved for the upgrade of his website, confirming that the money was actually spent.

He, however, accused his critics of refusing to break down the details of the transaction to cause confusion in the state.

He had said, “As far as the website contract is concerned, yes there was a contract. It went through procurement and was approved by the government agency authorised to do so. One of the services was an upgrade quoted for N12.5m but awarded for N12m.

“There were other services that were new like a hand over countdown clock, mobile Apps for Google, for IOS and Ipad, for Microsoft and for Research in Motion (Blackberry), which the existing website did not have, as well as the annual maintenance cost for managing the website.”

The former governor equally told CACOL to stop worrying itself with the belief that he was interested in ministerial appointment.

Fashola said, “I cannot conclude without responding to the crusade of CACOL and their ilk seeking my prosecution on allegations that have no proof and writing pre-emptive letters to the Presidency.

“In case they are unaware, I am not looking for a job. I expect them to know that allegations of wrongdoing are not resolved without evidence, neither are they resolved in press conferences.”

A social scientist, Mr. Ajiboye Akinniyi, who described himself as one of Fashola’s fans, said though he would continue to praise the former governor for surpassing his predecessor in terms of performance, the former governor should see the agitation by the people to seek explanation on how their money was spent as one of the responsibilities of the office.

Allegations bordering on financial impropriety levelled against anyone, especially those who held public offices in one time or the other deserve explanation,” he said.

Akinniyi, however, asked those entrusted with positions of responsibility to bear in mind that people are watching them.

He said though Fashola had explained how the N78m was spent, that did not mean that the former governor would not be asked questions bordering on the financial management of the state in the future, if the need arises.

Akinniyi said, “Fashola ought to have known before now that the people might want to ask him questions concerning how he spent their money for eight years; he ought to have known that holding public office equally demands accountability, especially as speculation is rife that Buhari may appoint him to head one of the key ministries.”

A financial analyst, Mrs. Atinuke Owotutu, said Fashola might have satisfied the curiosity of those seeking explanation on how the N78m was spent, but the former governor should get prepared to satisfy others who might want detailed explanation on how other expenses were made under his watch.

Owotutu said she had never believed that Fashola worked enough in Lagos State, considering the huge amount of allocation and Internally Generated Revenue that were available to him while in office.

She said, “I have always asked people not to be deceived. One thing is when you have a large number of people toeing the same path, you have got to stop and think, ‘Is this the right direction?’ Nobody needed to tell me that Fashola didn’t do enough regarding the level of performance expected from his administration.

“He must come out and account for other allegations that have been levelled against him. It is not enough for him to say he doesn’t want to join issues with anyone. He should; this is accountability we are talking about.”

Source: The PUNCH.

Notice of CACOL Annual Convention/ Founder’s Day

Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL)

The Humanity Centre: 610, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, Ijaye Bus stop, Ijaye-Ojokoro.

P.O. Box 1592, Agege, Lagos, Nigeria.Tel: 01-4736534, 08023226276, 08037194969 E-mail:,

Name, Nail, Shame and Shun Corrupt Leaders Anywhere, Everywhere



10th August, 2015


Notice of CACOL Annual Convention/ Founder’s Day

The Annual General Convention/Founder’s Day of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) holds in September.

The Convention seeks to educate members on the workings, strategies and the tactics of the Coalition in fighting corruption in Nigeria.

The event will also serve as an avenue for participants to socialize and welcome new members into the Coalition.

Members and affiliates of the Coalition are hereby enjoined to please pay up their annual dues to facilitate our planning as what is contributed would be used for funding the event.

For further enquiries, kindly call: 0814 112 1208 or 0708 214 7742. You can also send mail to

Thank you for the anticipated cooperation as we look forward to your early contributions and payments.

Yours faithfully,

Debo Adeniran
Executive Chairman, CACOL



Against the backdrop of some analysts and Nigerians who had reacted that governance goes beyond the ongoing probe of corrupt public officials by the Buhari’s administration, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders has asserted that the probe is in order.

The group emphasized that Nation should be serious about making a difference, it advised that we must understand that we cannot accomplish anything significant on our own because meeting the great challenges of our time requires cooperative efforts.

CACOL had initially agreed with the President when he said, “At home we face enormous challenges. Insecurity, pervasive corruption, the hitherto unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages are the immediate concerns. We are going to tackle them head on. Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us. We must not succumb to hopelessness and defeatism. We can fix our problems.”

The Coalition of anti-corruption organisations considered that Buhari’s speeches and powerful agenda have reflected seriousness and passion for the responsibilities of his new office but had yet to spell out practical blueprint that would make the nation’s economy one of the fastest growing emerging ones in the world for the purpose of engaging youths for productive activities, which they described as one of the pillars of his campaign promises. Nigerians believed the economy, infrastructure, youth employment and other critical sectors should also be given equal attention by the President.

The group asserted that its hope was rekindled because President Buhari had maintained that he would not waste his administration’s precious time on probing every past administration before his as doing so would only amount to sheer distraction which, at the end of the day, would have left the very core of governance unattended to. This implies that he is not ready to stop at anything until he has been able to achieve his promises within the limit of what is achievable during his tenor.

In his reaction, Debo Adeniran, the Executive Chairman of CACOL said that the only mission or agenda under which Nigerians voted Gen. Muhammadu Buhari into power was to explore the possibility of putting to an end an era that cannot sustain Nigeria and replace it with an era of new hope and new initiatives. For the first time we have a President we can fully describe as being progressive despite all the political shortcomings.

“Even if probe is going to take the four years of Buhari’s tenure, he needs to clear the mess. Even at that, Buhari has been working because there are areas of improvement in the power sector, the oil sector is been re-engineered, Nigerian’s integrity has been restored in many countries, foreign relations has been strengthened, prosecuting in the war against corruption and war against insurgency, etc.The probing is worth it because the nation has been soiled for so long and the dust table needs to be cleared. President Muhammadu Buhari didn’t stop at anything.” Adeniran said.

Debo Adeniran concluded by imploring President Buhari not allow himself to be distracted in any way, in his quest to fight corruption nor get carried away in his probe crusade. Nigerians want to operate in an economy that will reward their effort, not the one that will further frustrate them so, as he concentrate on pursuing his anti-corruption crusade he should also ensure that other sectors of the economy get the same attention he gave insecurity and corruption