Sunday, 31 March 2013

Article: Why Impeached Imo State Dep. Gov. Could Not Survive Impeachment

Agbaso; Impeached Imo State Deputy Governor

By Emperor Nnabuihe Iwuala

For sometime now, Imo State has been in the news over the 458 million bribery scam involving the impeached former Imo State Deputy Governor Sir Jude Agbaso and one of the contractors handling a road project in the state called JPROS International Company Nigeria Limited.

The saga finally led to the recent impeachment of Sir Agbaso by the Imo State House of Assembly.

The former number two citizen of Imo State has described his recent impeachment as not only man’s show of wickedness against man but an open rape to injustice, fairness and rule of law.

I followed the whole saga with keen interest and I knew that nothing would have stopped the impeachment because it was long conceived. My reason is that on good authority, it is being speculated that Governor Rochas Okorochas wants to contest as a presidential running-mate in 2015. At the same time, Agbaso needed to be replaced early with Governor Okorocha’s more trusted former Chief of Staff Prince Eze Madumere who will be sponsored for the governorship position of Imo State in 2015. It is believed that it would be easier for Madumere’s political profile to rise if Madumere becomes a Deputy Governor. Accordingly, the Governor’s son in-law who is presently the state Commissioner for lands, Mr. Uche Nwosu will be Madumere’s running mate. Not being too sure of his bid at the vice-presidential bid, the Governor wants those he feels would not betray him in future. This is the plan, if Governor Okorocha sponsors the duo to become governor and deputy respectively and in the end, the vice-presidential race doesn’t favour him, Madumere will resign for Nwosu to become Governor and pick Governor Okorocha as his Deputy. The plan also has it that Mr. Nwosu will subsequently resign for Okorocha to ascend as Governor and may probably pick Nwosu or Madumere as his Deputy. To guarantee the arrangement, Okorocha will obtain an undated resignation letters from the duo prior to their election.

On The Investigation By The 7 Man Panel Set Up By The State Chief Judge:
Investigation is a systematic research into a subject so as to establish the truth of a fact. Ironically, Agbaso saga is the first case in Nigeria where a public officer is begging to be investigated over corruption and the investigators bluntly refused. The criminal justice of our country presumes an accused innocent until the innocence is proved otherwise. But in Agbaso’s case, his accusers were not ready to prove him guilty but only wanted to satisfy the selfish will of the powers that be.

On the other hand, the country’s constitution stipulates that the 7 Man Investigative Panel that found Agbaso guilty had 3 months to investigate this matter but it chose to do it in one day.

As an investigative panel, it was the duty of the panel to verify the allegations against Sir Agbaso. The contractor and the state legislature gave enough particulars of allegations against him that needed verification. Agbaso’s accusers alleged that Agbaso sent details of bank accounts of Three Brothers Concept Ltd. and IHSAN BDC Ltd. through GSM text message to a Lebanese contractor named Joseph Dina of JPROS Ltd. to pay in some amount as bribe. As a supposed unbiased and thorough panel, it needed to confirm this fact from MTN call logs of both Jude Agbaso and Joseph Dina. It was also alleged that the sacked Deputy Governor directed Dina to pay a total sum of =N=458 Million bribe into two companies’ accounts with GTB and UBA respectively. The contractor also gave details of the companies’ bank accounts. Respectfully, I think it would have been necessary to get at the directors of the companies and details of the companies from Corporate Affairs Commission to see if the impeached Deputy Governor was in any way linked to the said companies. Also with the help of security agencies and the banks, transactions in the said accounts should have been properly investigated. Also, it would have been more expedient to possibly get at the signatories of the said accounts to see if the said sums were paid in accordingly. If paid and withdrawn, who withdrew it? It is a trite law in Nigeria that ‘he who alleges should prove’.

However, the panel did great disservice to Imo people. It only pre-occupied itself with impeachment of the former Deputy Governor. Its chairman and members did not use their onerous call to serve in the panel to let the people know the whole truth of what happened to Imo people’s money.

On his own side, Jude Agbaso said that he decided to shun the panel because he was still challenging the impeachment process including the constitution, appointment and inauguration of the panel in a law court. He personally wrote a letter to the chairman of the panel on this but the panel discountenanced the letter. For me, even if he had gone there on merit, the panel would have still not taken his defence because the panel was specially detailed to sack him. The panel sat only once. Before the panel sitting, the members of the state legislature who were already on Easter vacation were summoned the same day the panel sat and they were anxiously waiting for the panel to finish and submit its report. Heavy security men were detailed to both the place the panel sat and the state legislative complex. The irony in the whole drama is that the same day the panel sat was the same day it submitted its report to the legislature, it was the same day I was impeached and it was the same day the new Deputy Governor was confirmed by the same legislature. It was like that because everything was a script well written, rehearsed and dramatized.

Progress To Unravel The truth:
In order to prove the innocence of the sacked Deputy Governor, his family is said to have engaged professional investigators and security agencies and the revelations appear terrible. Findings have it that the alleged bribe money was traced to Dubai and Lebanon. An aide of Governor Rochas Okorocha Prince MacDonald-Akano who is the Governor’s Special Adviser and Chairman of the Committee on Monitoring and Implementation of Road Projects in Imo State was made a shareholder in JPROS International Nigeria Ltd. on June 20, 2012 and allotted two (2) million shares of the company’s 10 million shares. Akano also wrote and consented to be a director of the company two days later, on June 22, 2012. The alleged 458 bribery sum was actually sent by Mr. Dina to his company accounts overseas. Mr. Dina first paid N325, 000,000 into the Three Brother’s Concept Ltd GTB account. The money was used to raise the sum of $1,930,000, which was subsequently transferred through Dubai, on February 21, 2012, to Mr. Dina’s account No. LB5001400002302300179018010 with the Kaslik Branch of BLOM Bank SAL in Lebanon. The purpose of the transfer, as stated in the transfer document, was “to import construction equipment”. Mr. Dina similarly paid the second tranche of N133,000,000 into the IHSAN BDC LTD’s account No. 1015334698 with the UBA. Again, the money was used to raise $800,000 and transferred to Mr. Dina’s Account, No. AE360200000036374395130 with HSBC Middle East Ltd at Dubai Internet City, Sheik Zayed Rd, Dubai. So, while Mr. Dina was accusing Agbaso of demanding and receiving a bribe of N458 million, the said money had been converted by the same man and his associates in Lebanon. Directors of who are also the only shareholders of JPROS Nigeria Ltd, are: Joseph Dina, Aline Dina, Jean Samir Aoun and Prince MacDonald-Akano. Isn’t it fascinating to discover that a Director and a major Shareholder; indeed, the second highest shareholder in the company involved in this ugly defamation of character and wicked attempt to destroy a name of a Deputy Governor is a member of Governor Okorocha’s inner circle? Akano stood quietly and loyally beside Mr. Dina, as Dina blackmailed and slandered his Deputy Governor in his own state knowing well that his company, JPROS, was the guilty party in the matter. It was also found out that Prince Akano suddenly applied and became a director and a major shareholder in JPROS. Is not clear that the plan was to impeach Agbaso with 2015 in mind, using Mr. Dina of JPROS and Prince Akano as the hatchet men?

(Iwuala can be reached on: 08037247295,