By SOC Okenwa
Penultimate week a Nigerian young singer, Azeez Adeshina Fashola, popularly called Naira Marley, was arraigned before a Judge of the Federal High Court in Lagos charged with digital fraud. Prior to his arraignment he was arrested with Omoniyi Temidayo Raphael (aka Zlatan) and three others, Tiamiyu Abdulrahman Kayode, Adewunmi Adeyanju Moses and Abubakar Musa by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at home in a spectacular raid that caught them panting leaving open some hard evidence that would help the anti-graft agency to be able to successfully prosecute the case.
After days of detention Naira Marley alone (the four others with whom he was nabbed having been released) was slammed with an 11-count charges of cyber fraud and money laundering. Currently he is still cooling his heels in prison pending the determination of the bail application filed by his lawyer.
As he was sent to jail some concerned Nigerians (especially in the showbiz industry) including Ruggedman and Daddy Showkey had reacted divergently towards his case. For the former it was wrong for anyone to eulogize fraud or fraudsters as Naira Marley was doing in his songs. But Daddy Showkey saw it differently. For the Ajegunle-born ghetto musician what Marley did was not worth prosecution since he was a youngster thus capable of juvenile delinquency!
While Ruggedman’s position sounded logical Daddy Showkey demonstrated risible pollution of morals. The talented entertainer sounded unreasonable in his interventions. They were more emotional and sentimental than reasonable. So in Showkey’s reckoning or worldview the EFCC should have released Marley congratulating him for possessing fake credit cards and apologising to him for disturbing his peace? Where then is the law in this nonsensical scenario?
If Showkey was insinuating that EFCC should be concentrating their efforts and energy on the ‘big fishes’ in the system (big looters) then they are not doing their job. Ignorance cannot be an excuse for criminality no matter the degree of crime committed. EFCC was not established to go after politicians alone. But anyone found to be involved in economic and financial crimes against the interest of Nigerians and/or foreigners.
Days after Marley’s arraignment reports online emerged that he had once committed an offence in the UK as a teenager for which he was declared wanted! One wonders what Daddy Showkey had to say about that disclosure since Marley’s lawyer had told the court in Lagos that he had never been involved in any misdemeanour in his life before now.
Fraud is fraud! If you engage in ‘419’ (Advance Fee Fraud) locally or internationally and you are caught you are liable to be charged to court. If you loot the treasury or engage in money laundering, drug peddling or human trafficking then you are breaking the laws of the land. There is no ‘small’ crime or ‘big’ crime, ‘small’ fraud or ‘big’ fraud. There is capital punishment for capital crimes as well; crimes like murder, homicide, terrorism or coup plotting.
And recently a former First Lady and wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, had approached the Frderal High Court in Lagos shamelessly asking the Judges to rule that $5.7m and N2.4bn seized from her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should be released to her arguing that the seizure was not justifiable. The EFCC had on April 26, 2017 dutifully secured an interim forfeiture order of Justice Olatoregun in respect of the funds.
Pray, where did Mama Peace work and got paid to the tune of the millions of Dollars under focus? How did she come about such staggering amount? Or she was among those (including the fugitive Diezani Allison-Madueke and the incarcerated Sambo Dasuki) that looted the nation blind during the Jonathanian giddy corrupt presidential era?
Nigeria is indeed a country of fraud and fraudsters! Fraud everywhere from Kano to Lagos, Calabar to Abakiliki. Everyday we read mind-boggling stories online of millions and billions of scam by our politicians. Now the national disease of corruption has caught up with civil servants and other workers. From the Director in Abuja down to the local government employee sleaze is the name of the game!
But why the fiscal madness, you may ask. Well, the answer could be as simple as asking any discernible Nigerian if the last presidential poll that returned Buhari to power was systematically rigged or not! We could nevertheless locate the answer in the fact that very few of us (if anyone at all) believe in the nebulous Nigerian project. That is, very few of us ‘love’ Nigeria sans hypocrisy! Patriotism, therefore, becomes a scarce ‘commodity’ seldom found in the market. In the hearts and minds of majority of our compatriots unity only exists in the privileged imagination of those in power.
Indeed, there is this disturbing ubiquitous scramble for filthy lucre as if the late great seer, Nostradamus, had arisen recently from his grave predicting imminent implosion nay disintegration of Nigeria. Everyone (every Tom, Dick and Harry) wants to get rich quick — by hook or by crook — at the expense of mother Nigeria!
In the final analysis there must not be any sentiment in the tepid war against graft of any kind in ‘Naija’. Patience Jonathan must be made to forfeit permanently the billions of Naira she stole while her husband ruined our collective hopes and aspirations as a clueless President; the ‘re-elected’ Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, must be made to answer to the millions of Dollars he was caught on video hiding in his Babanriga; Naira Marley must be made to face the prison music if found guilty of ‘419’.
It is by so doing that Nigeria would start working again and making progress. We must endeavour to kill fraud and corruption before the twin evil kills us as a struggling nation.
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