Can Our Courts Jail Fashola Or Any Governor At That? Etcetera Writes

The APC is now being haunted by
the saying, “When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back
at you.” If it knew, it wouldn’t have accused Goodluck Jonathan of running a
very corrupt government. Most times, we forget to listen to the voice of reason
that says, “Look in the mirror, brother. You might just be talking about
yourself.” It is now clear that the APC focused on the speck in Jonathan’s eye
and ignored the log in their own eyes.” 
Who would have thought that just few
weeks into a new regime in Lagos State, Fashola would be engulfed with the
following accusations – Drilling of just two bore holes with N139m, remodelling
and equipping of the official residence of the state’s Chief Judge at N510m,
reconstructing of a car park with N640m, spending N300m to relocate cables,
N175m to replace the railings of a pedestrian bridge, N220m on the facility
management of the Lagos State University College of Medicine, N619m on surface
repair of a road, N1.2bn on the construction of an unidentified multi-storey
building, N1.6bn on the construction of a 48-bedroom hotel.

These things don’t seem like what
a person as intelligent as the former governor would do; especially for those
of us who regard him as one of the very few bright spots of our democracy. In
fact, I am still of the belief that in the annals of corrupt governors in
Nigeria, his place remains to be seen. But the question here is, can the Lagos
State government come out with such weighty accusations without having evidence
to back them up?
It was in the papers that “some
in the former governor’s circle” are worried he might face charges. If that
happens and if he is found guilty and if it results in conviction and if he
ends up in prison-yes, four ifs-then considering his achievements in Lagos
State, all other former governors from other states (especially the eastern
states) should have long since been in jail awaiting his company. But yet
again, does any governor go to jail in Nigeria?
Over drinks at a bar around Omole
Estate, Ikeja last Monday, a friend who works in one of the ministries at
Alausa laughed as he finished off his beer.
“Everything’s messed up, and
nobody goes to jail,” he said. “Etcetera, that’s your whole article right there.
Hell, you don’t even have to write anything more. Just write that.”
I put down my phone. “Just that?”
“That’s right,” he said,
signalling to the waitress for the cheque. “Everything’s messed up, and nobody
goes to jail. You can end the piece right there.”
Sounds funny but sincerely,
“Nobody goes to jail” should be the mantra of our democracy, one that has seen
virtually almost every public office holder embroiled in obscene criminal
scandals — and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Alamieyeseigha, and
that was probably because of the attention he brought on the nation as a result
of his dress sense from the UK. And the Federal Government has apologised for
the mistake by granting him full pardon.
If Fashola is found guilty of
these allegations, he should face the music. That’s the way the system is
supposed to work. But a veritable mountain of evidence indicates that when it
comes to government officials, the justice system not only buckles at punishing
criminals, it has actually evolved into a highly effective mechanism for
protecting them. This institutional reality has absolutely nothing to do with
politics or ideology — it takes place no matter who’s in office or which party
is in power. To understand how the machinery functions, you have to look back,
at least, at Obasanjo’s time in Aso Rock, as case after case of financial
malfeasance was pursued too slowly or not at all. Indeed, the shocking pattern
of no enforcement with regard to corrupt public officials is so deeply
ingrained in our democracy that it raises a profound and difficult question
about the very nature of our society: whether we have created a class of people
whose misdeeds are no longer perceived as crimes, almost no matter what those
misdeeds are. The Justice Department has evolved into a bizarre species of
social surgeon serving this untouchable class.

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