With regards to the forum of ex-governors in Nigeria prison. Since it has been widely agreed that three is a crowd, then it will be a cliche to use in justifying the call to have a forum for the Nigerian ex-governors who are now having a second or third term of office in Nigeria prison. You will agree that being in prison takes away your right to freedom but not your right to association as long as it is within the perimeters of your new home.
Since we have Nigerian governor’s forum and forums for the governors in different regions of the country, then why not have a forum for ex-governors in Nigeria prison since the prison has now become a place they now converge on after their ceremonious term or terms in office.
Belonging to a group comprising of people of like minds is important because it helps to identify your kind outside the group and bring them home, fight for each other’s rights and put your identity and strength to good use.
Ex-Governers in Nigeria Prison
Relating with the scheme of things, some of the members to look forward to in this group includes, the ex-governor of Plateau state, Joshua Dariye, and the ex-governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu, with the ex-governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame.
Ex-governor in Prison “Joshua Dariye”
Joshua Dariye a Honorable Member of the Nigerian Senate in 2018 with a case of criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds against him was later sentenced to 14 years in Nigeria prison. Though his sentence was reduced to 10 years but that did not change the fact that he was found guilty of misappropriating N1.162 billion ecological fund belonging to Plateau state.
Ex-gorverner in Prison ‘Orji Uzor Kalu’
After enjoying the well celebrated office of a Nigerian governor in Abia State between 1999 and 2007, Orji Uzor Kalu contested the senatorial seat of his constituency in the 2019 general election and won despite having a case of fraud to the tune of N7.65 billion hanging over his head.
But on December 5, 2019, he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and also forfeited all assets of his company Slok Nigeria Limited to the federal government.
Ex-gorverner in Prison ‘Jolly Nyame’
The third person who will be gloriously qualified to be a member of this forum if and when created is a former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame. He was given an opportunity to experience the other side of life in Nigeria prison for 14 years after enjoying the benefits of leading his state as a governor.
The court found Nyame guilty of 27 out of 41 counts of alleged diversion of public funds, a verdict he prayed the Supreme Court upturn but failed. Therefore, he will not be returning home soon, but will have to pay his due at the prison for 14 years.
It is regrettable that the ex-governor of Adamawa state, James Bala Ngilari would have been a member if he was not acquitted of defrauding his state of N167 million after bagging 5 years in Nigeria prison. He would have been a forth member of the forum, but no thanks to the court. Surely, his contributions would be missed.
Though his sentence did not make it this time when a consideration is being thought of for a forum for the ex- governors cooling off in the prison, it will be unfair to omit the name of a former governor of Edo state Lucky Igbinedion, who was sentenced to six months imprisonment in 2008.
After facing the reality of being dragged to the court for corruption, he was declared guilty for money laundering worth N25 billion. For a man that saw the future, he chose not to make the argument too long. He finally got a plea bargain that made him pay a fine of N3.5 million. Fair or not, he got off the hook.
On his part, late Diepreye Alamieyesegha, a former Bayelsa state governor from 1999 to 2005, was sentenced to jail for 2 years, after he was found guilty of laundering N3.7 billion. It was a battle for freedom and good health for him, as he finally decided to plead guilty.
One thing that should be in the pipeline is who will be the chairman of this forum when finally created, and what will be the criteria to be considered? Should the post be given to the person who got to the prison first, the person with the highest years of imprisonment, or the person with the highest amount of fund embezzled, or should it be contested?
When that has been decided, the next will be, can that post be rotated? Fairness is important!
It is important to note that with the numerous cases pending at different levels of courts across the nation, we may just have more ex- governors winning a qualification verdict to be part of this forum.
If that happens, they should understand that when you have a right, it will be wise to make judicious use of it by making the forum for ex- governors in Nigeria prison a reality.