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By on April 20, 2012

Of all the ludicrous tales of the greed and extravagance of Nigerian politicians, how does anyone allegedly mortgage a whole STATE for a N40billion loan?! He evaded arrest by hiding from the authorities in the corners of Delta State, and was protected by militants; let’s not even get started on the ‘authorities’. More mind-boggling is that a Delta State High Court discharged and acquitted him of 170 counts charge including theft of public funds, abuse of office, money laundering and bribery of public officials.

On the flip side and to downplay the enormity of his crimes, is Delta State worth that little? And why do we even expect so much from someone convicted twice on criminal charges of theft and handling stolen credit cards in the United Kingdom? Maybe all the cheap publicity and being the subject of countless conversations, jokes and cynicism would get him on Times’ next list of most influential people. After all, he succeeded in attaining the highest position in the Delta State Executive for two tenures totaling eight years with a criminal background (contrary to S.182 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria).

Although countless Nigerians may take the blame for that because of our past anything-goes attitude resulting from lost faith in the Government and in our willingness/ability to effect a change.

So how was he arrested in Dubai and how is a UK court able to convict a Nigerian for offenses committed against Nigerians? Extradition Treaty and Transnational crimes! Extradition Treaties allow state parties to apprehend suspected criminals and take them back to stand trial within the jurisdiction of their crimes. Transnational crimes on the other hand are offenses which not only offend fundamental international values, but are begun, completed, have effects in, or have consequences that affect more than one country.

Essentially, the UK (and the UAE for that matter) succeeded once again in teaching us a lesson: since you are resistant to cure (apparently!), don’t export your disease!

Smuggled out of Nigeria (wonder how!), arrested in Dubai and extradited to the UK to face the music in London. Sentenced to thirteen years in London for fraud totaling over £50million (Fifty Million Pounds) (about N12billion-twelve billion Naira), he will serve a reduced jail term of four and a half years (minus time already spent in jail during his trial).

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Nigeria is already on standby to take the hint of the UK courts. The competence of the judiciary to rise to the occasion is a different kettle of fish. Regardless, the man is clearly going down in Nigeria’s history.

As he lied under Oath about his criminal record during his swearing in as Delta State Governor, perhaps perjury (section 117 Criminal Code Act) can be added to the list of his sins. Too bad (or good?) that while his sins are too many, there is no statute of limitation on crimes in Nigeria. If consecutive sentence is imposed he’d probably be in jail the whole of his next life. Not a pretty place for an ex-Governor of an oil-rich Nigerian state!

Sadly, our resilience as a nation sometimes translates into the negative as it remains to be seen whether we learn good lessons from events as this. But on a lighter note, maybe the next scapegoat (and the aiding and abetting) will have the good sense to choose a country without an extradition treaty!

Udechukwu, Chisom is a practicing lawyer based in Lagos, Nigeria