2019: Kalu Campaigns For Buhari Re-election Bid, As Rashidi Ladoja battles EFCC

By Stephen Ubanna

In spite of the  fact  that Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and his electoral officials, have not officially lifted the ban on political Campaigns for the 2019, general elections, the political Elites appear to have jumped the jumped gun .

This is evident going by what is happening in the states as the political Elites are taking advantage of every social gathering to sell their party manifesto and Candidates. The last Father’s day celebration in the country speaks volume.

Orji Uzor Kalu, a former governor of Abia  state and  Chieftain of All Progressive Congress, APC, may have thrown caution to the wind to transverse  the nooks of the country to canvass for support  for president Muhammadu Buhari,of the ruling  the APC Presidential Candidate in the 2019 Presidential election, in what polical analysts described as payback time.

Rashidi Ladoja Insists He Did Not Misappropriate Funds In Office
Rashidi Ladoja Insists He Did Not Misappropriate Funds In Office

only  recently, the  business mongul, who has in Jiawa state  had met Sule Lamido, a former governor of the state  who was said to be nursing a Presidential ambition  on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. He was said to have  told the former Jigawa state born PDP political Chieftain that he was on tour of the country ”to sensitize  Nigerians on the dire need to allow Buhari to continue in office in 2019”.

The former Abia governor who is championing Buhari re-election bid reportedly said that  voting  for the PDP or any other party Candidate other than Buhari  in 2019 would amount to drawing the hand of the clock back as it would open the floodgate  of the country treasury for looters to return.

Many believe that Kalu  was merely acting out the script of Buhari who sees the  PDP and the former Olusegun Obasanjo sponsored African Democratic Coalition, ADC, plot to unseat him in 2019 as a ploy to loot the treasury. It is not surprising why the former Abia state governor said he would never support lamido if he decides to run against Buhari in 2019.

political Observers had said that he had joined  the vanguard of those campaigning  for the re-election of Buhari to protect his sagging political image in Abia  state and draw him closer to Buhari who n calls the shot .

He may be alone among the Ibgo political class who has come out openly to throw his weight behind Buhari re-election bid in 2019. This is because of the believe in Igbo circles that the Katsina state President of Nigeria hates them. His appointments into the key positions in the government where the south east was completely eexcluded bear eloquent testimony .

Indeed, his actions and pronouncements since he came  into office in May 29, 2019, gives a clear indication that he has no apology over his actions, mening that the Igbos should be happy for the Constitutional provision which allows for one minister to be selected from each state of the Federation, irrespective of how the state had voted in the election or the party controlling the state.

Not showing any remorse for his actions, he is still talking tough   that states who  fail to support his re-election bid in 2019 should not expect equal treatment with states that support him.  It is not surprising why most his current appointments were from the north west and north east geo-political regions to the disagreement of  the south, particular, south east.   there are indications that if he wins his re-election bid without the south east support, nothing would change in his neglect of the region in political appointments.

Kalu, the former Abia governor may have read the handwriting on the wall that he has decided to draw the igbos closer to the Buhari government by throwing his weight behind his re-election bid in 2019.

But the Igbo APC  Chieftain said he had dumped his own party, People progressive Alliance, PPA,  to join the party because of Buhari’s” personality and integrity”. He disclosed that he was further encouraged to join the party to have a taste of relevance at the national level . He  was said to have told his political supporters in the state  that he no longer want to be in the opposition where he had  been in the last 10 years.

Bu many believe that he had joined the APC to save his neck from the trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over a N2.9 fraud  allegedly committed while in office as governor of Abia state between, 1998 and 2007.

But the former Abia state governor would not take it, stressing that  his support for Buhari re-election bid has nothing to do with the case  as the Commission is vigorously prosecuting the case, meaning that  that if he is found guilty , he would get the appropriate punishment for it.

But on Friday, May 11, 2018, the  Ibrahim Magu ledanti-graft agency  finally closed the case against Kalu in Court, thus ending  his troubles with the Commission.  Signs that the Commission , will eventually close the case that was standing against Kalu in Court over an alleged N2.9 billion fraud,  became clearer when Rotimi Jacobs, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and the anti-graft agency Lawyer , lamented the non appearance of  M.A. Udoh, the major witness in the case. The legal luminary hadconfirmed that the star witness had been  ” evasive”, as the agency  officials were having difficulty tracking him to bring him to Court for cross-examination.

The   EFCC lawyer  reportedly said that for more than six months, they had noticed a trend that each time that  the matter  will come up for hearing in the Court, the star witness will travel to Umuhia, Calabar or Cameroun,.  forcing him to apply for a subpoena. The subpoena  was said to have  been signed by the presiding Judge making it possible for the Commission to arrest him.

Armed with the sined subpoena , Jacobs,  the anti-graft agency lawyer handling the case in Court said the  Commission took it to the Abia state government House but found out that he was  a Civil servant.

The discovery  may have given them a clue on how to arrest him and drag him to Court to answer  questions on the Kalu N2.9 billion case.  But the agency officials were not lucky in tracking him as they were told on getting to the Abia government House that he had left the service, fueling speculations that it was a ploy to frustrate the trial .

But the agency may have saved Kalu  from going to jail  following  a cross examination by the last  star witness in the case, Chidi Chukwuka, a forensic expert. The witness was said to have told the Court  that the Commission was not aware  that former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote a letter to George Bush ,a former President of the United States, US, over a $1.7 million  potomac house which Kalu was said  to have purchased in 2003. The $1.7 million was said to have been withdrawn from one of the Commercial banks in the country  for the transaction.

The forensic expert  may have provided ammunition for the EFCC to close the case against Kalu when he confirmed  that the former governor as at the time he was being investigated had foreign accounts , noting that funds were moved from his Nigeria accounts to these, his offshore account in the US. The particular $1.7 million was said to have been withdrawn from  Chase Manhatttan Bank, now JP Morgan to fund the potomac house project.

The striking out of the case against Kalu by the Commission may have encourage Rashidi Ladoja. a former governor of Oyo state who  case to settle with the EFCC, that he was no worried  by the case instituted against him in Court by the Commission over alleged  misappropriation of state funds while in office between 2003 and 2007 .

The former Oyo state governor was said to have been dragged to Court by the Commission on the allegation that  he instructed that about 1,6 billion worth of shares belonging to the state be sold at discounted rates without the approval of the state House of Assembly as the proceeds were said to entered into  private pockets.

Ladoja  would not want people believe that he would refund any money  to the  anti-graft agency, stressing that he did steal  while in government.  But the Commission confirmed  that it had recovered part of the loot from other  peopple in the state. It is not surprising why the aggrieved  former Oyo state governor  said ”there is no case there”.

Many believe  that i Ladoja could stand his ground without double speaking , he may be allowed to go a free man by the Commission like Kalu, the former Abia governor.

While Ladoja is optimistic that the case would be closed for good like that of Kalu, Joshua Dariye, a former governor of Plateau state and Jolly Nyame, a Clergyman and  also a former governor of Taraba state are already cooling their head in prisons  for alleged fraud committed while in government.

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