By Emmanuel Onwubiko
We live in an unfortunate epoch whereby the ethical frameworks that define us as a people of African heritage is fast eroding and being systematically replaced by the age of consumerism and cash consciousness. They say we are in what is called the jet age in terms of scientific feats attained by humanity. But it seems like the jet speed has even affected our once reverred Afrocentric traditions and the reputable Cultural value systems that once held our different societies like a glue which is characterized by hard work wrapped around the dictum that there is dignity in labour and the consciousness of honesty that once truly guided our transactions in both our homes and the larger community of humanity.
Take for instance the alleged kidnapping kingpin from Ibbi in Taraba State called Alhaji Hamisu Wadume whose arrest was foiled by the Army for pecuniary gains and for which three of Nigeria’s finest detective police professionals were murdered in a premeditated fashion just to free the arrested high net criminal warlord. To even tell you how ethically challenged politicians have become the President simply allowed the Defence headquarters to set up a probe panel to investigate a crime perpetrated by some of their own instead of constituting a PRESIDENTIAL JUDICIAL PANEL OF INQUIRY TO UNCOVER THE REMOTE AND IMMEDIATE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE PREPPLANNED MURDEROYS CRIME COMMITTED BY THE ARMY IN TARABA STATE AGAINST THE POLICE AND AGAUNSR NIGERIA. What the President did is like allowing an armed robber to constitute his own trial court and to select the judges and the prosecutors. That is how deep our moral fabrics have deteriorated. Let me continue with the story of the Taraba show of shame by the Army and then link it up with the heroism of two uncommon Nigerians belonging to two diametrically opposed classes of the Rich and the extremely poor.
This so called millionaire kidnapper Alhaji Hamisu Wadume was a well known wretched of the earth sort of a rural poor who is said to be so impoverished as at last year that he couldn’t enjoy the luxury of having to himself standard three square meals per day. The World Bank states that someone who earns jist $2 USD per day is extremely poor. So you can imagine the situation this freed criminal was only last year and the benefits he illegally amassed from the World of Crime aided by the protection granted him by some rogue soldiers and police. He even sought to win a seat to the Taraba State house of Assembly not long ago. But wait for it! During the Olusegun Obasanjo’s government a Senator stood up to announce that when he was the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of criminal investigation bureau of the Country, he once investigated somebody for series of armed robbery accusations but that to his shock that armed robbery suspect is seated comfortably right there with him as a Senator. That is how low our public morality has deteriorated. Few days ago a Senator Senator Utazi who headed the Senate committee on anti corruption was caught reportedly hoarding constituency project items which he should have distributed over a year ago and some of these items like commercial tricycle were at various stages of deterioration due tobexposition to the elements for long. When ICPC threatened to prosecute him he had to quickly distribute these materials hurriedly to his constituents but under the watchful eyes of the ICPC. Another former Senator Godswill Akpabio was reportedly caught with his community hospital equipment, and transformer which according to ICPC he shoyld have distributed to his constituency and for his people. Another House of Representatives member from Edo was caught hiding, wait for it, ambulance in his house which he ought to have handed over to the community hospital in his constituency. That is Nigeria of the Rich people without conscience and now the story of the kidnapper of Taraba tells you that one vice binds the poor crook and the Rich crook together- avarice, selfishness and greed.
But between last year and when his bubbles burst sometimes last week, he was said to have amassed a fortune out of the crime world of armed kidnappings for ransom to an extent that he is said to be the best philanthropist in the whole of his entire local government area council in Taraba State to an extent that he is alleged to have generously bought car gifts and also gifted hundreds of motorbikes and commercial tricycles for his large army of hitherto fellow poor rural inhabitants and the military.
Sadly, for a man with the reputation in his immediate community as a very poor Church rat to now suddenly run into millions of cash and to overnight become so generous as to gain the protection of a whole state wide section of the Army and police is to clearly show how moral decadence and the fundamentals of our cultural and traditional value systems have spectacularly collapsed.
Think relatedly of the so called Billionaire kidnapper Mr. Evans captured ironically by the three detective police officers that were killed by the Army in Taraba after they successfully carrired out a forensic raid in Ibbi in Taraba State and apprehended the wanted Kingpin of kidnappers in that zone of the North East of Nigeria, named Hamisu Wadume but like the Taraba millionaire kidnapper, Evans the billionaire kidnapper born in Anambra state but relocated to Lagos, amassed monumental quantum of wealth that he could buy himself the citizenship of Ghana which enabled him to evade the eagle eyes of the police that were hunting for him for nearly one DECADE and lived in unforgiveable opulence before being apprehended in his billionaires mansion in a choice area of Lagos state hiding in the ceilings.
He Evans the billionaire kidnapper made immense wealth from the World of Crime and bought fleets of choice automobiles including hundreds of heavy duty vehicles that he used to set up a thriving transportation company in Lagos and employed hundreds of Nigerians, nobody bothered to investigate how he came about becoming so immensely rich from the lowest rank of the society having not gone to the University nor is he a son of a well kniwn rich man.
That is Nigeria of the 21st century which we must all battle hard and resiliently to change and at least return to our pre-1960’s Nigeria whereby morality and Ethics were the hallmarks of our society and the majority of the citizenry were weary of riches without hard work.
But as the English poets would let us know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, there are flashes of happenings here and there in Nigeria that tells us of the possibility of the Nigerian nation returning to those good old days of honesty and brutal sincerity of majority of our forebears.
Two cases suffice- one in Enugu involving a billionaire transporter and the owner of PEACE MASS TRANSIT FLEETS OF BUSES who is a billionaire by every account and by every global currency of transactions to Bauchi State whereby a pensioner was honest enough to refund N1 million he got over payed by the pension authority.
Mind you Pensioners have been at the receiving end of viciously thieving government officials for years who have over the past two decades robbed pensioners in the police of Nigeria and civil service of billions of accumulated pensions and gratuities.
The story of Rich and Poor honest and indeed ‘BRUTALLY HONEST NIGERIANS go as follows beginning with the story of the Rich honest man as captured by only a few media houses in Nigeria which ordinarily celebrates bad news coming from amongst us.
The Transport mogul, Dr. Sam Maduka Onyishi, the Managing Director of Peace Mass transit, reportedly returned the sum of N2,219,500,000 which he said was wrongly paid into his account by First Bank.
Onyishi, who explained how he discovered the huge sum in his Unity Bank account, returned same to the First Bank.
At an event in Enugu, weekend, witnessed by journalists, he said that he had requested for $3m from First bank to be paid into his Unity account only to be paid $10m instead by First bank which is about N3,219,500,000 representing an excess of N2,219,500,000.
The beautiful story of honesty continued that the cheque was received on behalf of First Bank by the Business Manager, Commercial Banking, Mr Kokelu Ben and the Branch Manager, Unity Bank, Enugu Branch, Mrs Ifeoma Eleanya.
According to this honest rich Nigerian elite, “The amount they paid in was N3,219,500,000 but my own money there is N1,000,000,000 so the balance is not my money. I said that I cannot invest this money and be gaining from another person’s money and I can’t also keep it. I can’t keep $7m Dollars that doesn’t belong to me.
“I told my bank (First Bank) to pay money into my Unity bank account that I want to take 3 million dollars and they paid ten Million Dollars instead. I called them and informed (First bank) that the amount they paid to me was more than the amount I requested. They told me that the ten million Dollars was my money.
“I was angry with them. I asked them how come I have this kind of money and I’m not aware of it. I asked them how come they went ahead to invest my money without telling me so that I can use my money and then I can know how much I have.
“I told them that they have failed to give me a statement of my account even when I have demanded for it severally. I discovered later that the amount was even more than what we are talking about because there was another person I asked the bank to pay money to whom they even paid extra.
“I made enquiries and they told me that I should wait until when it is time for banks to do reconciliation, they will discover whether the fault was from First Bank, Central Bank or Unity Bank. I waited for a whole month and no one called me. I told the devil that he is a deceiver and a liar. He knows that I need money now that is why this thing is happening now.
“That’s why I said, let me invite First Bank and Union Bank and also invite journalists. I said let me give the money to First Bank, if they find out that the money is mine, they should return it. If it belongs to Unity Bank or CBN give it to them. If it is your own, keep it. So I am giving this money to you to keep on trust.”
He called on the management of CBN, Unity Bank and First Bank to look into the origin of the money and such leakages could come with dire consequences for any commercial institution.
“I had sent emails to the bank to inform them of the wrong payment and they didn’t find anything. My account in First Bank was not debited so they did not see it. Unity Bank did not see anything because they just received the money.
“Nobody knows if the money came through Central Bank because the money came through three organizations before it came to my account in Unity Bank. Why I am doing this is that if it is either First Bank Unity Bank or CBN that has this fault, they should as a matter of urgency block the loophole because this is a sign that people’s money have been missing every day. It can also lead to a total collapse of any bank,” he said.
In his response, the business manager, commercial banking, First Bank, Mr Kokelu Ben said that, “I don’t have any official thing to say but I must state that Dr Onyishi is a man of Integrity. When we look in into the situation we will advise him on what happened and how to remedy this situation.”
The epic story of the poor honest pensioner has similar story line surrounded by enormous show of honesty and trustworthiness which I make haste to recommend to the Federal government to reward with national honours so the younger population can emulate their positive attributes and make Nigeria once more a pride of place whereby the African cultural value system of honesty will once more become the hallmark of our collective society irrespective of tongue, tribes or religions.
The story goes thus that Mallam Abubakar Garba, a pensioner in Bauchi State, who returned N1m excess gratuity paid to him, said his action was informed by his fear of God.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Garba, aged 71, a Motor Chief Driver with the Bauchi State Judiciary who retired in 2011, was on August 5, erroneously paid N1.2m as balance of his gratuity, instead of N200,000.
In an exclusive interview with NAN in Bauchi on Monday, the retiree said he never “thought twice” before returning the cheque.
“My entitlement was N1.2m but I had been paid N1m some years back, leaving a balance of N200,000.
“When the new regime decided to settle arrears of pension and I was lucky to be considered, I was given a cheque of N1.2m again.
“I did not realise the mistake until I went to the bank and started filling the teller to lodge the money into my account. I promptly returned the cheque to the members of the committee,” he explained.
“As I am talking to you now, I need N1.5m to complete my house; I need N300,000 to resuscitate my car that had been grounded for two years,” said Garba, who has one wife and seven children.
These are stories that should prick our collective consciousness and rejuvenate our dying national sense of righteous indignation so the majority of us can courageously call a spade by its name and name and shame evil persons in our midst as a way of sanctifying our Country Nigeria.
*Emmanuel Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and firstname.lastname@example.org; www.emmanuelonwubiko.com,www.