“A cycle has begun can it be more than what meets the eyes”
“Where there’s life, death is inevitable…” goes a saying by Mo Yan, popular Chinese novelist.
On February 18, 2021, the country recorded an addition to the number of high-profile persons who have died while standing trial for corruption, following the death of Abdullahi Dikko, former comptroller-general of the Nigeria customs service (NCS) comes two years after the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) filed charges bordering on fraud allegations against him.
The former customs CG was being prosecuted by the ICPC, alongside Garba Makarfi, former assistant comptroller-general of customs in charge of finance, administration and technical services, and Umar Hussaini, a lawyer.
He was accused of inducing one Yemi Obadeyi, an Abuja estate developer, to pay the total sum of N1,100,952,380.96 into the account of Capital Law Office (a company belonging to Hussaini) for the purchase of 120 units of duplexes as residential accommodation for officers of the customs.
In 2017, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Kaduna. In November 2019, Nnamdi Dimgba, judge of a federal high court in Abuja, ordered the EFCC to discontinue its case against the former customs comptroller-general following the non-prosecution agreement entered into by Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), and Dikko.
Dikko had reportedly returned N1.5 billion, alleged to be proceeds of crime, to the government.
In June 2020, the ICPC withdrew the allegations against the former customs CG, following its inability to arrest him. The commission also told the court that it would refile the charges against Dikko when he is arrested.
Aside from Dikko, since the commencement of the anti-corruption war in Nigeria, a lot of persons, including prominent political figures, have been made to stand trial on allegations of misappropriation of funds.
However, due to the prolonged periods that characterise the dispensation of justice in Nigeria, some of these prominent persons never lived to prove their guilt or innocence.
In Nigerian law, the name of a defendant is struck out from a charge if death occurs.
Here are four other high-profile Nigerians who died before the end of their trials.
Alex Badeh, a former chief of defence staff, was killed by armed men along the Abuja-Keffi road on December 18, 2018.
Badeh, who served as Nigeria’s 15th chief of defence staff between April 2014 and July 2015, was standing trial for alleged money laundering.
The EFCC had, in 2015, arraigned Badeh on a 10-count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust, abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N3.9 billion. He was re-arraigned on an amended 14-count charge on July 4, 2018.
Goji Mohammed, the 15th witness who testified during the trial, said $1 million cash was found in a wardrobe in Badeh’s house in Asokoro, Abuja, during a search.
Another witness, Salisu Abdullahi, a retired air commodore and former director of finance of the Nigerian air force, alleged that Badeh diverted N558,200,000 from NAF’s account monthly which represented the leftover of funds meant for the monthly payment of staff salaries.
He also told the court how Badeh bought a house at Wuse 2 valued at N260 million for his first son (Alex Badeh Jr.), renovated it with N60 million, and furnished it with N90 million. Abdullahi further narrated that when Badeh’s second son turned down a house worth N340 million, a second house had to be bought for N330 million.
Upon Badeh’s death on December 18, 2018, charges against him were terminated in March 2019. However, Okon Abang, the trial judge, found Iyalikam Nigeria limited, Badeh’s company, guilty of the charges after a plea bargain was entered into.
The judge ordered that the company be wound up and all properties in relations to the charge be forfeited to the federal government.
Aliyu Akwe Doma, former Nasarawa governor, was docked on October 18, 2011, on a 17-count charge of money laundering to the tune of over N15 billion.
He was arraigned along with John Dangoyi, Abdulmumin Jibrin, Timothy Anthony Anjide, Dauda Egwa, Suleiman Ibrahim, Broworks Ltd and Green Forest Investment Ltd before Marcel Awokulehin, judge of a federal high court, in Lafia, Nasarawa state.
The defendants were later arraigned before Agatha Anulika Okeke, another high court judge in Nasarawa, after the transfer of the previous judge.
The accused persons were alleged to have conspired and fraudulently laundered state funds meant for contracts, an offence contrary to Section 14(1)(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004 and punishable under section 14(1) of the same Act.
The court had on May 23, 2012, ruled that Doma had a case to answer on corruption charges brought against him by the EFCC.
EFCC closed its case on June 23, 2016, after calling nine witnesses and hearing was adjourned till March 2017.
Doma died on March 6, 2018, in an Israeli hospital at the age of 75.
Abubakar Audu made history by being the only candidate to have contested every governorship election since 1991, winning twice and losing in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
On the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC), Audu won the Kogi state election held in November 1991 and was sworn in as the first executive governor of Kogi state in January 1992.
In 1998, now under the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), he was elected again and sworn in on May 29, 1999, as the second executive governor of the state.
When Audu left office in 2003, the EFCC accused him of misappropriating almost N11 billion of the state’s funds while he was governor between 1999 and 2003.
After several years of back and forth with Audu trying to stop his trial, the anti-graft commission finally arraigned the former governor and Alfa Ibn Mustapha, a former director-general of the Directorate of Rural Development in his administration, for offences bordering on criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N10,965,837,040.
They were arraigned on March 18, 2013, on a 36-count charge.
Audu died shortly after he was delcared winner of the Kogi state governorship election under the APC on November 22, 2015. He was 68 years old.
Babalola Borishade was a former minister of education, ex-minister of aviation, one time minister of state, power and steel, and minister of culture and tourism.
He held the key positions between 1999 and 2007 during the reign of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
On November 19, 2009, the EFCC arraigned him before a federal capital territory high court, Abuja, on a 15-count charge of bribery and forgery. The commission alleged that the former minister mismanaged an aviation safe tower contract to the tune of N5.2 billion.
He was arraigned alongside Tunde Dairo, his former personal assistant.
Rowland Iyayi, a former managing director of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NACA), and George Eider, an Australian, were also alleged to have been involved in the “illegitimate” deal.
In February 2016, Borishade’s request to strike out the charges was turned down by an FCT high court.
Borishade died in a London hospital on April 26, 2017.