“This is a Pandora box..it contains all facts of the case. It is serious”.
That was the exclamation of late lawyer and activist, Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, on the seizing of a brown bag containing all the documents relating to the overseas bank accounts of Dr Olawale Idris, the Lagos State Commissioner for Education, during the Second Republic government of thr late Alhaji Lateef Jakande.
He was accused of illegally having over $2.8m in his foreign bank account.
It is against civil service rule for a public officer to operate a foreign account.
To Fawehinmi and many Nigerians, it remains a puzzle how a Commissioner in the regime of a man touted as Action Governor, acquired so much wealth in spite of his boss’s spartan life.
But as things turned out, Dr. Idris had really acquired the foreign currencies while serving under Muhammadu Buhari, then Oil Minister in charge of the then NNPC.
Idris, with a Ph.D. in law, was then Secretary of the NNPC. Case closed.
He was later sentenced to 21 years imprisonment by the Military Tribunal set up by the Generals Buhari/Tunde Idiagbon military junta.
Today, a few months after Buhari’s exit as civilian President having ruled for eight years, the man who presided over the Central Bank of Nigeria,CBN, under his watch, has been accused of operating 593 foreign accounts.
He is also accused, in the report by Jim Obazee, the Special Investigator appointed by President Bola Tinubu, to investigate the apex bank of alleged withdrawal of $6.3 million from CBN account.
You draw a line and ask how Buhari, who jailed Idris in 1984, was able to tolerate an Emefiele, one of the longest-serving CBN governors, for eight years, thirty years after his exit from power.
Emefiele was appointed by Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, in 2014.
Beside Emefiele, who on Sunday December 24, 2023, cried out that he is unaware of the illegal opening of 593 secret bank accounts, Mohammed Idris, the immediate former Accountant General of the Federation, AGF, is also standing trial for allegedly helping himself with N101 billion of funds from the nation’s Ministry of Education.
Idris, who was granted bail under Buhari’s government, allegedly stole such a humongous amount while university lecturers under aegis of ASUU were crying and going on strike for months protesting poor funding of the nation’s universities.
Questions begging for answers from a man touted as having zero tolerance for corruption!
With the rot in Buhari’s government now in the public glare, has he not become a case of a leader who delegated power without supervising how the power was used?
Different tales abound of ministers and presidency officials under Buhari’s watch allegedly buying jets like common cars while Nigerians were groaning under a supposedly belt tightening regime!
But if indeed Emefiele did not grant approval for opening of 593 foreign accounts, who did and under whose instruction?
Again, who authorized the withdrawal of $6.3 million as alleged by Obazee if Emefiele, the helmsman in CBN is unaware?
Are there some other shadowy powers beyond Emefiele or any Governor in CBN?
Or is the rule peculiar to Buhari’s regime alone?
Hear Emefiele: “I am not involved in the opening of the accounts. I have no knowledge of the openings. The fixed deposits in those foreign accounts are definitely outside my knowledge”.
Now that he is a ‘free’ man, it will be interesting to hear the details when he is arraigned in court.
Besides, Emefiele is also grappling with other six count charges of corruption and awarding shady contracts for himself and cronies as CBN Governor.
Has there been any CBN Governor as powerful and untouchable like Emefiele in the nation’s history?
Even if he is set free on all the six counts, can he wriggle out of the pending charges he is likely to face from the report of the Special Investigator when the Federal Government decides to act on same?
In spite of all, today Emefiele remains the first CBN Governor to spend six months in detention and face corruption charges after removal from office in the nation’s history.
Granting that President Tinubu may not break the unwritten convention of excusing previous leaders from public probe, is Buhari likely to retain his sainthood when most of his key lieutenants are deep in corrupt practices?
Is the next four years of Tinubu’s government not replete of tales of looting in low and high places by the government of his predecessor as the case of the Education Ministry and CBN has shown.
By the time Tinubu turns his attention to the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, are we not likely to hear worst cases of corrupt practices that could make both Emefiele and Idris saints.
Former military President, Ibrahim Babangida, once described his corruption-ridden government as a saint compared to the succeeding civilian administration.
Will the ongoing probes of Buhari’s regime prove him wrong and probably restore the garb of sainthood with which Buhari was wrapped before he was elected as President on 2015?
We are likely to hear more tales from Emefiele, if Tinubu decides to go the whole hog to unearth what he described as “the rot in CBN.”
Like the Yoruba saying, “Ti a ba fa gburu, gburu a fa igbo,” meaning “when we pull the roots of a big tree, it will move the forest.”
Emefiele may be the chief witness that will move some powers and principalities in the country. He may be the chief testifier against the unknown powers behind the throne in CBN.
The nation waits.