Saturday, November 13, 2010

Illegality and Illegality and Illegalities! When Will the Nigerian Federal Government Return the Monies Seized from the so-called 'Wonder-Banks' to the Subscribers?

Those who read my posts have often asked me why I pursue the issues I write about. They say such topics do not bring in the money, so what could be in it for me, they ask. And I myself have often wondered about it too. Still, I cannot help it. I only write what I have a feeling for; and that seems to be to champion causes. Although the people I am speaking for may not even be aware of it, it is just for a good conscience that I write such as this. I hate unfair treatment. I hate illegalities.

Some days ago, I saw on STV (Nigeria) some men discussing their frustration by the Nigerian Government in getting their terminal benefits due from their former employers who had been shut down by her agency, the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN). The men used to work for some of the closed Banks; closed down because they did not meet the recapitalisation standard required in 2005. They had formed an association of 14000 members - the total number of staff members displaced by the forced closure. Professor Chukwuma Soludo, the predecessor of the present CBN governor, apparently had guaranteed the displaced staffers the payment of their terminal benefits should their banking institution not make it through the recapitalisation exercise. They had been seeking to obtain a performance of the promise, but nobody was paying attention. Not the CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi,  not the Minister of Labour, not the Senate President; and Mr President, Goodluck Jonathan himself ignored them too.

Well, one argument they brought forward which I took away is the fact that the banks did not die a natural death. They were closed down by the Central Bank, not for committing an offence, but for not being rich enough. Since when did not being rich enough become ground for extermination? But of course, since they look to be the under-dogs no body is considering answering to their needs.

This is so unjust!!! When the custodians of our national conscience do not take a stand for the down-trodden what hope is there for the ordinary man in the street?. Only when the big shots get tangled in the ropes do we see government bodies responding. Why do we fool ourselves in this country. Justice is given only when it will create sensationalism, only when the recipient is one of those 'deserving it'. When will every citizen of this land be accorded the recognition fundamental to their status as bona fide human beings who also bleed blood?

Very much like the case of the bank workers whose employers' offices were forcibly closed down is the matter of the so-called 'Wonder-Banks' of 2007. In much the same way as the killed Banks, these firms of  fund managers were hounded like criminals, man-handled and exploited by the Police and the armed forces at the instigation of the Central Bank of Nigeria, in the main. They claimed they were out to protect the  investing public. They closed the shops of the Fund Managers, froze and confiscated their accounts which held subscribers monies, and to this moment none of the agencies responsible for breaking up these firms has thought it fit to initiate a process of refunding the subscribers their monies, even if they want to do it by themselves.

If you asked me, I'd tell you that abuse and corruption do not come any clearer than this. While the finance agencies of government claimed they were out to protect the public, they were the ones who registered these companies. They knew they were fund managers, and they knew what fund managing entails. I guess, they just did not imagine that they would be that effective and successful.

The Fund Managers, fondly called 'Wonder-Banks' by the government agencies and their detractors, did not fail. Just like the banks closed down from the recapitalisation exercise of 2005, they did not die a natural death. They were frustrated by the agencies of the Finance Ministry as a personal vendetta against some of their very well known successes, like Alhaji Yusha'u Maiyaki, Managing Director of NOSPETCO  OIL & GAS LTD. This man's humane posture in sharing with his subscribers the profits that the multi-nationals usually distribute among themselves riled the princes and capitalist king-pins so much so that they blackmailed him into the list of 'wonder-banks'. How dare he give riches to the slaves born to work their capitalist mills?!

The government of Obasanjo had no issue with these firms. But it was the stooges of Obasanjo, who pretended to be under him who then ran berserk to strike the death hammer. While I will not deny the government the right to make policies, I refuse to agree that the government has right over my rightfully acquired property. This is the way I mean it: If I am given to drinking, for example, the government has no right to  seize or steal my money from me on the grounds that they want to keep me from drinking. It is my money and I do with it whatever I choose, as long as I do not hurt anyone else doing it! The government, by not responding to these issues, condones the unjust actions of her agents. They have no right to sit on investors monies all these years just because they say the investment product is risky. As things are, the government is the one who has brought in the element of risk; it did not come naturally in the normal course of their business.
But Nigeria Central Bank has seized investors monies in the said 'Wonder-Banks' for  near four years now on the pretext that they want to rescue investors. Investors who were not in danger of any sort in the first place.

Since this is a land where very few people speak the truth, it has become necessary  to call on all the good men of the land to ask the government for these monies to be returned to their owners before this matter becomes statute barred. The EFCC, Mr. Festus Keyamu, Barr.Falana, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, Chief Aremu Obasanjo, President Goodluck Jonathan, and all sincere and honest leaders of thought of Nigeria should rise up now and address this long lingering issue. These people, who are equal citizens as we are, deserve justice too. Some of them may have died over these four years, still, let them be refunded their monies now. At 50 years of nationhood let us begin to see men and women who will stand for truth, justice and fairness.

The time has come to stop living for self, always asking 'what's in it for me'. This land is bleeding, filled with people whose right have been trampled upon one way or another. Let us begin to right the wrongs we have caused over the years. Let justice not be for only those who can pay for it. In this perpetually green land let it be known far and wide that justice is for all – freeborn or slaves, strangers or indigents!          

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