“Thieves don’t deserve National Honours”, Cecilia Ibru, Erastus Akingbola, Bode George to lose National Honours.
Sources gathered in Abuja that Jonathan’s directive was contained in a letter to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim. A source in the Presidency confirmed newsmen on Sunday that, “There is a letter to that effect, with a directive to find out the names of those who were indicted and who have (national) honours awards. I think the job is ongoing and almost being concluded. The office of the SGF has been mandated to find out the names of those who were indicted and have national honours. “It is not all the people indicted that have national honours awards. For instance, you cannot strip somebody of a national honours award when he has none in the first place, even if he has been indicted. So the Office of the SGF is on it. “Mr. President has given instruction that the names of the people should be compiled to bring them out. As soon as the list is out, the President will do something about their case. The SGF is sorting out the names of those who were indicted and have national honours. “For instance, the former Managing Director of Oceanic Bank Plc, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, falls within the category. So also is the ex-MD of Intercontinental Bank, Mr. Erastus Akingbola.” Apart from Ibru and Akingbola, those on the list of awardees to lose their national honours include a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Bode George; and a former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tarfa Balogun; as well as other ex-managing directors of banks who had been convicted after they were conferred with national honours. George, a one-time Vice-National Chairman of the PDP, was sentenced in 2009 to a 30-month jail term by Justice Olubunmi Oyewole of the Lagos High Court. Oyewole found George guilty of contract splitting and inflation when he was the chairman of the Board of Nigerian Ports Authority. Balogun, however pleaded guilty to eight counts of money laundering charges in 2005 and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment by Justice Binta Nyako. Ibru, once feted in the nation’s banking sector, was in 2010 convicted by Justice Dan Abutu of the Federal High Court in Lagos of bank and securities fraud. She was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and made to forfeit over N150b in assets and cash. The development came as three major opposition political parties, the Action Congress of Nigeria, the Congress for Progressive Change and the All Nigeria Peoples Party, challenged Jonathan to withdraw honours bestowed on some convicted Nigerians. The CPC and the ANPP in particular said it would be difficult for Jonathan to withdraw the honours because some of the affected convicts used proceeds of their crime to fund elections of top members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. Speaking in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, the National Publicity Secretary of the CPC, Mr.Rotimi Fashakin, noted that if the Constitution could forbid ex-convicts from holding elective office, then it must be deductible that such people should also lose the privileges that previous national honours conferred on them. He said, “In some of the cases, like that of Mr.Tafa Balogun; and a chieftain of the PDP, Chief Bode George, they were just not what could be treated as a ‘family affair’. “Under normal circumstances, if the constitution forbids a criminal ex-convict from holding elective office, it is deductible that the individual should also lose the privileges that a previous national honour confers.” In his own remarks, the National Publicity Secretary of the ANPP, Chief Emma Eneukwu, said the government of Jonathan was not serious about its claim of fighting corruption. He said, “You must know that this government does not have the will to fight corruption. Taking away the national honours from these listed persons including George requires the determination to fight corruption without regard to sacred cows.