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Monday, 30 July 2012


A mutual friend who is not media savvy and is indeed as media shy as much as the current Minister of Justice and Federal Attorney General Mohammed Bello Adoke, esq [SAN] is, peeped through the screen of my laptop computer on Monday morning while I was completely immersed and deeply carried away by the flow of thoughts' pattern and what I thought to be an articulate presentation of an essay I was typing with the help of the keyboard titled "As Adoke Battles petrol subsidy thieves"  and she shouted 'WHAT?'. 

At first I never read any sinister import into her early morning oral vibration since I have always known her to be a good Poet so I indeed thought she was making up her mind to settle down into writing one of her many great poems, particularly upon my realisation that she just emerged from the "REST ROOM" acclaimed as one of those unfathomable places that she gets her inspiration as a budding writer and poet, but I was dead wrong. She took a second look at the theme of my piece and shook her head violently as if to say that this man is indeed not serious about what he was doing and she repeated her word-'WHAT?'.

Looking at her in terrifying amazement with a demand written all over my lips for her to offer possible explanation for what I may consider a sudden and rude exclamation upon her sighting my piece but she would not let me have it on a platter of gold even as she stood up and made to walk away in stupefying shock.

But I left the computer and accosted her as quickly as she could walk and pleaded with her to give me the meaning of her exclamation because as a writer I have always fancied peer review as one of the ways to gauge the quality and standard of any piece that I am going to send to the public space since the Nigerian public is increasingly becoming sophisticated and academically upwardly mobile to decipher when they are being taken for a ride and to shout blue murder.

She offered very scanty but well- loaded words thus; "Do you really believe from the bottom of your heart that the current holder of the office of the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke would have the liver to competently prosecute members of this powerful fuel subsidy cabal alleged to have stolen huge public fund and donated part of these massive stolen wealth to the campaign treasury of the Peoples Democratic Party's Presidential flag bearer in the 2011 General Election- the current President Dr. Good Luck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan?."

 Knowing me for being tenacious in holding and defending what some analysts may term as hardline stance on some issues that border on the need for the Government to wage unrelenting war against corruption and economic crimes, my mutual friend who asked that I never mentioned her name further asked me that; "   Don’t you think that what the current Government is doing by parading these small accused persons in the ongoing judicial procedure relating to the disappearance of over half a trillion tax payers' fund is to just use them as experimental guinea pigs to confuse the vocal members of the public and create an impression that at least the Federal Government has indeed summoned courage to do the needful by charging some persons connected to powerful politicians in court for alleged theft of subsidy fund?

 My friend simply told me that she completely adopts the position canvassed by the veteran and courageous columnist of Daily Sun Newspaper Mr. Duro Onabule who indeed wrote a piece titled; "Guinea Pigs on trial for fuel subsidy fraud" in his column of Friday July 27th 2012 page 23.  She repeated aspects of Uncle Onabule's position that; "It is not as if these trials are anything serious or even ground-breaking ventures. Recall past showdowns of the same magnitude? After the lawyers, the suspects will plead not guilty. Their lawyers will then argue for bail which will often be reflected with the offer of a substitute to be filed. The Suspects would then be clamped into EFCC custody. The court will then adjourn till a specific return date for the bail application to be argued...Mark it, nobody will be punished for the fuel subsidy fraud as public interest will be deliberately wearied and waned out. Nobody will even remember. Of course, there may be token fines of ten million Naira for the Billions of Naira stolen in each case".

 Duro Onabule has been in and out of Government at the highest level as Chief Spokesperson of a powerful office holder in one of Nigeria's military dictatorship so most persons believe that he knows what he was writing since he has been part of the ruling elite and so is in a better position to decode the techniques of what the late Music Icon Fela Anikulapo Kuti would rightly call "GOVERNMENT MAGIC". But some other persons who equally should know dismiss him as a Nigerian who has lost out of the political power equation and is therefore out to hit back at the current beneficiaries of the "spoils" of political offices. Who knows? But in all of these arguments one thing is as sure as the Northern STARS and that is the fact that Mr. Duro Onabule is a man of his words and he is courageous, firm and he is a man that has achieved high level of integrity and credibility as a columnist who puts down what he believes to be true.

 But again, as a writer I am also a person who believes in giving each person the benefits of doubt and in this instance I know that the Federal Attorney General is a man known by most of his friends as a principled believer in the RULE OF LAW and not RULE OF THE MOB and therefore would stick tenaciously to following the due legal process in seeking to bring alleged law breakers like the suspected petrol subsidy thieves to swift trial.

 Adoke is a man though media shy but a great and consummate reader of quality books and journals including newspapers, is aware that the judgment of history is swift and decisive and therefore would not let his good name and image be dragged to the mud of comprehensive historical condemnation should the public perceive that those undergoing trial for allegedly stealing huge taxpayers money from the petrol subsidy fund scheme are only being paraded as "GUINEA PIGS' to masquerade and confuse Nigerians into thinking that Government is determined to bring decisive justice to these characters no matter how very powerfully connected they are to some very influential persons in the current administration.

 Knowing Mohammed Bello Adoke as a good man from the abundance of human evidence that I have gathered in the last twelve years and also following his work pattern in the last couple of months that he was appointed into the powerful office of the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice, I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt to competently charge, prosecute and obtain quality conviction of these persons charged now in the competent courts of law in accordance with section 6 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 [as amended] not necessarily because public opinion is of the well considered view that those who steal from the public till must be punished sternly but because it is lawful and just to bring alleged perpetrators of economic crime to swift justice and to retrieve allegedly stolen public fund put at over N400 billion by two highly powered technical Presidential committees headed by a tested and trusted Banking Executive Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. 

Appraising the beautiful scorecard of these two Presidential committees that investigated and unearthed the huge heist in the management of the fuel subsidy scheme, the highly rated newspaper columnist and journalist Mr. Simon Kolawole wrote on Sunday July 29th 2012 in his back page column in ThisDay newspaper titled;"STILL ON FUEL SUBSIDY, FAKE SUBSIDY" that "Millions of Nigerians are being made to bear a higher cost of living through the removal of fuel subsidy because we are told the bill is 'unsustainable'. Now we know where the bulk of the fake subsidy is going. I ask: Is that one sustainable?".  

The ball is in the court of Mohammed Bello Adoke to ensure that substantial justice is brought to bear on these alleged petrol subsidy thieves and indeed Nigerians will monitor the court rooms to see if their Lordships will deny Nigerians the fruit of justice by compromising on the prosecution of these suspected petrol thieves in these trials that have just been dubbed as 'silent revolution' by the newly appointed Senor Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs  Dr. Doyin Okupe who spoke with Chuks Okocha of Thisday at the weekend. Adoke may bring quality body of evidence to nail these subsidy thieves but if the courts presided over by Judges are not predisposed to render good justice there is nothing the Minister of justice can do since he is not the ultimate minister in these temples of justice but the judges are.

+ Emmanuel Onwubiko, HEAD, Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria, blogs at


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