Appearance Of Impropriety Vs. Due Process


Farouk Martins, Omo Aresa



There is a higher standard called Appearance of Impropriety that decent men and women adhere to before clinging unto Due Process. Of all the countries in the world, Nigeria has now championed due process for the rich, the looters and men born by the goddess. I do not think this sudden discovery of due process can fool anyone. The family of Pinochet in Chile and Fujimori of Peru would love our Attorney General self serving stand.


We are caught up with intellectual diarrhea while people in need of stolen resources are starving to death. You know, they know and I know the truth, but you have to prove it. After all, there are three sides to a story: your side, my side and the truth. Affirmative defenses can bury the merit of a case in court, a bonanza for lawyers. So if you desire justice, go to heaven! But Nigeria can not wait until everyone is probed, so get on with it.


This is not the case where all decent people will be accused and we will not have anyone to govern. Are we so short of men and women of high caliber that the Country will be so bereft? We have honest people in Nigeria, in our cities and villages but will never smell power until there is a revolution. If we want to avoid revolutions witnessed in many countries, trustees with appearance of impropriety must stand down before due process.


Distinguished men and women have taken sides and those who are helpless or restrained are signaling for help from overseas agents to come and deliver us from ourselves. We ask for foreign soccer couch mainly to be resistant to bribe and ethnic preference. We ask for London police to probe Funso Williams’ death in order to be miraculously objective. We call on South Africa for GSM. These same Nigerians are miraculous workers in other lands against all odds. They vary from the space engineers to Mac Dee specialists. 


Sometimes some of us have to hide our face in shame when we hear Agbakoba, Fasheun, Aondoakaa, and now the Delta Government asked for restrain either from the courts or the intelligentsias. These are respectable men whose stands confuse their constituencies. These are men who should be demanding decency in the polity, calling on those who have been accused of any impropriety that appears to soil the office they hold to clear their name first before stepping back into the position of trust.


Many of us may have lost our bet on this see-no-evil Government because we had hoped it would succeed in its fight against corruption: our number one enemy, as terrorism is in other countries. It gets more complicated when we become helpless, faking fights and problems instead of concerted effort to reduce the double headed evil in our midst. We are on fire in this house but we are fighting over who started fire before putting it out.


Africa, we can not rid ourselves of a cancer that infected our right hand? Selfishness has eaten up our guts. Either one person gets his way or the whole Country perishes. We are never short of ethnic champions crying out for their kin but we have made progress since most looters can not hide among their same kin anymore.

The men on the street quote my favorite: Saro say “na poor I poor, no be craze I craze”. No amount of logic, lawyers and public relation officers can fool us that Nigeria is not endemic with corruption as its worldly known. There are saints still in Nigeria but they are hard to find and most of them do not go near politics.


We beg foreign countries to take our loot at the risked of being detained with heavy legal and penalty payments. They humiliate us and complain about how we squander foreign aids given to us, actually a fraction of what they take from us in dubious loan penalties plus interest. That does not include royalties and taxes from our exploited resources.


We like to compare ourselves to how cases are handled in the civilized world or how they behave there. Those of us who have not been there have heard enough to conclude that if Nigeria does not grab a higher standard, it will sink. There are many instances in the so called civilized world where men who have stolen people’s money from the stock market were dragged to court in chains in the full view of television. Lobbyists have been jailed.


Where should we start? From the Watergate scandal of President Nixon where Attorney General John Mitchell was jailed or in his first term when Vice President Spiro Agnew was forced to resign?  In the Carter Administration, Bert Lance, Budget Director faced the music. Yielding to the appearance of impropriety, Raymond Sullivan, President Reagan Labor Secretary resigned, and then asked where he was going to get back his reputation after he was freed in court. His Attorney General Edwin Meese III resigned in the face of impropriety for helping a company he owned stocks in.


Most of President Clinton friends that were dragged to jail resulted in nothing against the Clintons except graphic salacious sexual details. Recently, baby Bush Attorney General Gonzalez resigned over appearance of impropriety for firing prosecutors who would not carry out political agenda. These are painful sacrifices, no doubt. But there is nothing as painful as corruption is to Nigeria as is terrorism to others. Political house cleaning can be dragged out with due process in court while exalted positions are spared. Immunity in Nigeria is an invitation to loot.


In the cash for honor scandal in Britain, the Prime Minister Tony Blair could have resigned if he was cautioned when interviewed twice by police. His campaign manager Lord Michael Levy and three others were arrested and questioned about possible offenses related to the sale of peerages and concealment of party donations. But for some reasons, looting governors or head of police in Nigeria can not be disgraced even when we know the reason for going into politics in Nigeria is to loot the treasury. So it is fair to ask where Nigeria got to be the champion of due process amongst hardened kleptomaniacs.


Attorney General excuses and reasons for the defense of men and women of shady characters must stop. Most of us waiting for all the crooks to be apprehended in one swoop by one agency and one government are procrastinating and praying for our own turn. No matter which party is in power, which agency is in charge, the fear of looting must be consistent. As it is right now, it is business as usual. There is a reprieve from Lagos to Sokoto among former Governors.