EFCC and Yahaya Bello’s White Lion – By Sam Nwaoko

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EVERYONE cannot be the same. No, never. A man who calls himself Lion might not be as courageous as a man whose surname is Coward. We are created differently; we present as differing materials and we are stuffed with varying stuffs. I’m expressing this thought with a man called Peter Ayodele Fayose in mind. Then I also remembered a 1932 song entitled “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” The song was in a musical by English satirist, actor and musician of the era when the British Empire was at its imperial peak. Coward was so brave, and with his satire, he was unfettered in his attack of the British aristocrats and nobles, who disrespected other people’s cultures and traditions simply because they were British, impervious and were the lords of the Empire. The brave English man’s name? Sir Noel Coward.

Coward was courageous enough to write and publish his song that was sung to the hearing of the British Empire lords. He told them that they were disrespectful and wrong to disregard norms in some of their colonies. To Coward, “in tropical climes there are certain times of the day when all citizens retire to tear their clothes off and perspire.” He says the British colonisers who did not respect this are “mad dogs”. Coward says only “mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun.” To reinforce his amazement, Coward notes that even “the toughest Burmese bandit can never understand it.”

That was Sir Coward who lived between 1899 and 1973. Then, there is a Peter Ayodele Fayose who was born only in 1960. He’s still living and flourishing. He flourished more when he served as governor of Ekiti State. He flourished indeed during his first tenure which started in May 2003 but was truncated in 2006; and during his second tenure which ran its full course from 2014 to 2018. Fayose is still thriving and it’s difficult to forget how much he contended (and is still battling) with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Yes, Fayose and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission are intertwined on the tenterhooks. They are still locked in keen inter-observation like two fighting roosters, watching each other’s every move in that state my Ikwuano people refer to as “looking themselves the fowl way.”

Fayose had and still has his brushes with the EFCC. It appears to be eternal, but he has been brave enough to stand up to defend himself each time the commission moves for him. He has been travelling to and from courts but on most of the occasions, the EFCC has always come out the bruised one in each of these numerous legal encounters.

And Fayose, like Sir Coward, has always been singing. He is ever ready with his mouth as the cavity is not with the washerman. He had called EFCC names and dragged the commission out many times for its tardiness in litigations. Like Coward, Fayose has always exhibited courage. On October 16, 2018, the day his second tenure as governor of Ekiti State ended, the EFCC tweeted that they were coming for him. It was in bad taste and the majority of responses the EFCC got in the comments said so. The commission deleted the tweet. Tardiness, again… Fayose, true to his earlier words that he would go to the EFCC himself, went to meet them. He also made a show of the impending arrest and detention. He created clothes for the dance. Of course we remember that Fayose was adorned in a T-shirt he had specially made for the occasion. He wore it for the camera and for the EFCC. He had “EFCC I’m here” written boldly on the shirt.

Fayose’s was courage in adversity which is miles away from what has so far been exhibited by a certain man that is called ‘Lion’ in Kogi State. Alhaji Yahaya Bello was the Kogi State governor until January 27 this year. He was the youthful, flamboyant governor of Kogi State until Saturday, 27 January, 2024 when he handed power to Ahmed Usman Ododo. Since he exited the Kogi government house, there are claims that he has been slithering about Nigeria, running away from arrest like a hapless fugitive. Meanwhile, his sobriquet is ‘White Lion!’

It’s more than three months since Yahaya Bello completed his second tenure as governor. Since exiting the Lugard House in Lokoja, he has allegedly been running from mounds to hills and from pillar to post all in a bid to evade arrest by the EFCC, the only agency which has publicly said he’s wanted for alleged sleaze. That’s the claim of the EFCC and those around the matter, but going by the way Bello has been dodging the commission, there might be more than meets the eye. However, it’s an interesting point to note that what Fayose did in four days, Yahaya Bello has refused to do in more than three months.

Now he has attracted all the attention to himself. To act manly, the EFCC has declared him wanted. This has made Thursday’s Yahaya Bello drama to outshine the equally ugly drama the world witnessed with the invasion of the Abuja home of former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha. The messy effort to bring Bello in is somewhat messier than that Okorocha debacle because the EFCC, eventually, successfully broke the resistance of Okorocha. They were able to hole him in like a hunted game because he and Nigerians were looking out for the presidential primary election of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

While we lash at the White Lion for acting so cowardly and so ungentlemanly, Yahaya Bell’s ‘messiah’ and protégé, Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo should also get the due flak. From what is happening we can say that it is only in Kogi State that a father has left his fate to his son in heaven. Ododo was wrong to have used his office to abet alleged financial crime against the people of Kogi State and also prevent lawful arrest of a suspected criminal. How long he is going to shield his godfather from the powers that be is left to be seen. Ododo must realise that he has taken a plunge into a crocodile-infested river, his being a member of the APC notwithstanding. Definitely, Governor Ododo will share in the splash of “if you no be thief why you run?” when the time comes.

Governor Ododo should wonder and ponder on this: Why would a lion be so scared? By the metaphor of a lion, is it because he’s a rare one? Or are there more to this issue that Nigerians would get to learn? Our fingers are crossed.

Has the EFCC itself proved to be a reliable agency? After it and its minders threw their hands up in frustration following a spirited but failed attempt to arrest Bello at his residence in Abuja, it chose to now declare Bello wanted. Does the EFCC mean that they do not know where Bello is hiding in this country? EFCC has at different times shown different kinds of drama in its approach to the arrest of suspects. Interestingly, the most dramatic of the arrests or attempted arrests are usually the ones which litigation end up as the biggest farce. Okorocha’s is one example. Fayose’s is another. There are many more celebrated arrests and trials.

Why have the police not instructed their officers and men around Bello to arrest him after they demobilised them as his security? So, is the police not also as tardy as the EFCC? Why did the police not just order the police officers and men around Bello to round him up and hand him over to the EFCC? Or does justice mean different things to our different security and anti-crime agencies?

The NIS is in the fray too… we know. We have heard that we should monitor the airports and our borders for Yahaya Bello. This is an interesting angle to the whole episode. It is normal in Nigeria to hear and contribute to all the noise and hullabaloo that begin issues like these. Where do they normally lead us to?


Published by Saturday Tribune on 20 April, 2024

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