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Friday, May 24, 2024

Peter Mbah: The Danger Enugu Must Avoid

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There’s a Latin legal Maxim known as ‘Volenti non fit injuria’ and which means that no one has remedy for injury he consented to. I feel really bad as a resident and non indigene to take up this topic knowing my closeness to the person against whom it is meant but I also feel a sense of duty to warn over five million Enugu residents and people about the danger of making certain choices in 2023. Either way, someone is bound to be hurt.

When about two years ago, news broke out that the governor of Enugu state Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had formally zoned the governorship slot of the state to Enugu East senatorial district in line with the preexisting rotational arrangement, I became worried. My worry was not because zoning as an equitable principle was bad but because of my fear that certain highly tainted individuals from that zone who had acquired so much war chest from mindless looting of public funds over the past two decades, could simply grab the opportunity as one of a life time and do anything in their power to hijack the process.

Just as I feared, such names as Chief Chinyeaka Oha who as Accountant General of Enugu State between 1999- 2007 converted his exulted office into a conduit pipe to service Dr Chimaroke Nnamani’s insatiable graft machine, began to surface. Under the said former Accountant General, hundreds of billions of state funds were callously looted and stashed away in active connivance with a governor whose penchant for sleaze and corrupt enrichment is phenomenal. For Chinyeaka’s involvement, he was severally arrested and prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC even after he had joined the federal civil service as a Permanent Secretary.

Through Providence or otherwise, Chief Oha’s ambition was torpedoed by a former President of the Senate who in a reception organized in honour of Chinyaka, made costly revelations the celebrant did not expect and which awakened Enugu people’s consciousness and sense of accountability on persons offering themselves for leadership.

While Chinyeaka continued to make the news having refused to give up, it was rumoured that his fellow endemic EFCC guest and Dr Chimaroke Nnamani’s alta ego and partner in crime Barr. Peter Mba was also being primed to vie for the same office of governor of the state.

Unlike Chinyeaka, Peter Mba enjoyed relatively good press until 25th of May, 2022 when the Enugu PDP conducted its gubernatorial primaries. That was understandably so as it was believed that the governor of the state Dr Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi knowing the scope of corruption allegations and prosecutions the former finance commissioner was undergoing since leaving office alongside his master Chimaroke Nnamani, would not consider him a material to succeed him, hence the press saw no attraction to profile him.

The thinking then was that if the governor must go for an Nkanu East candidate or any Nkanu person for the plum job, there existed many credible politicians such as Professor Bath Nnaji and Chief Frank Nweke junior who was then in PDP among others and not someone who was being dragged from one court to another by the EFCC for misappropriation of hundreds of billions of state funds and who for ten months was kept in its custody.

Everyone was wrong as Governor Ugwuanyi had his own hidden agenda. He chose Peter Mba a protégé of Chimaroke Nnamani through a fraudulent process and which has ever since deflated, deflowered and almost destroyed the PDP in the state. Peter Mba? How? Has he been acquitted of multiple corruption charges hanging on his neck or been discharged?

The issue of standing trial or not obviously did not matter to the Orba transactional governor who believes that money is all what matters and answereth all things. It was therefore no surprise that he settled for the Owo born lawyer after he paid into his secret account a whooping sum of #13 billion naira thereby purchasing the PDP gubernatorial ticket as early as March 2022. Grapevine has it that the highly illicit transaction was sealed and perfected in the United States of America by the duo of Bar. Ifeanyi Ossai and Engr. Vitta Abah who were later rewarded with the tickets of deputy governor and member House of Representatives respectively for the upcoming elections. Those close to

Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi reported before then that he had vowed to sell the governorship ticket to the highest bidder the same way it was sold to him for the sum of ₦6 billion naira by former Governor Sullivan Chime.

Why the anti corruption agencies have remained silent in the face of these damning allegations which have yet to be denied by any of the dramatis personae and which have turned Enugu State into an article of trade passed from one merchant to another, is curiously suspect. Are they waiting for petitions before inviting those concerned for questioning?

My worry as I initially stated is that Enugu people unfortunately are not asking the right questions. First and foremost, what is the status of multiple criminal charges hanging on Peter Mba’s neck ? Has he been secretly acquitted or discharged and the press oblivious of it? Does a plea bargain arrangement ever result in an acquittal or discharge of a defendant or does it merely culminate in the reduction of sentence after admission of a lesser offence?

If a plea bargain does not automatically translate to acquittal or discharge, is there a possible conspiracy of silence involving the EFCC to slow down Peter Mba’s trial to enable him campaign and possibly get elected and clothed with immunity? If there’s no conspiracy any where, why has Chimaroke Nnamani and Peter Mba’s trial been put on hold for quite some time? Questions begging for answers.

Could the answer simply be that due to section 36(5 ) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended) presuming anyone standing trial for a criminal offence innocent until proven guilty, the anti corruption agency is not in a position to stop Mr Peter Mba? I honestly do not think so since restraining him from political activities is quite a different thing from continuing with criminal proceedings against him. It therefore appears there’s more than meet the eye.

Aside from the issue of unexplained suspension of trial, why is Dr Chimaroke Nnamani desperate to have Peter Mba in the government house? To recover through him all what he lost to the EFCC and which rendered his life miserable until Ugwuanyi waded in to revive him? Why did Peter Mba go to the end of the earth to borrow the humongous amount needed to pay off Ugwuanyi his oil and gas company assets having reportedly been overcharged by banks? What business was Peter Mba doing when he joined Chimaroke Nnamani’s government as commissioner for finance, the same year he left the law school? Has anyone any more doubt as to the source of initial capital for floating Pinnacle Oil and Gas Ltd in 2008 barely one year after Peter Mba left office ? Could anyone imagine the situation Enugu State could find itself if returned to the same man who helped to make it bleed for eight years?

What about the elephant in the room which is the ₦13 billion borrowed to buy his ticket? How will Peter Mba recover it? From the ever dwindling federation account allocation meant for social services and payment of salaries and pensions? Where do Enugu State workers and pensioners stand in all of these? How does any reasonable person expect workers and pensioners to be paid while Peter Mba battles to defray his multiple debts while stealing more to stay afloat? Can anything ever work in the state throughout his spell as governor having entangled himself with heavy encumbrances, personal debts as well as Ugwuanyi’s playoff billions excluding the state’s existing debts and contractual obligations running into hundreds of billions of naira and which today rank the fourth highest in the country?

We’re told that the so-called oil magnet Peter Mba promises to raise the state’s Gross Domestic Product GDP from $4 billion to $30 billion. How? Under what conditions? Under a condition of total financial disablement brought about by over bloated debts and liabilities he’s sure to bring along occasioning insolvency?

Presumption of innocence or not, Enugu people must as a matter of extreme emergency, wake up and resist the temptation to return their beloved state from the current wilderness back to Egypt. Governor Sullivan Chime succeeded because he distanced himself from criminal elements and enemies of the state all of whom were naively brought back by Governor Ugwuanyi to once again hold the state by the jugular.

The year 2023 has been declared a year of national rebirth and one of transformational leadership for Nigeria and of which Enugu is an integral part. It cannot join that band wagon of transformational change if by her own design or carelessness, she surrenders her destiny to a serial prisoner who does not mean well for the state. The choice is for Enugu people to make as they alone have the opportunity to save their beloved state from an impending danger.

By Simon Chukwurah

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