By Thomas Adegoke
Retired Inspector-General of Police Mr. Mike Okiro, hit the nail on the head over the hullabaloo regarding the N275.5million election fund fraud, he asserted that the whole scheme was an attempt to blackmail him. Any dutiful and objective appraisal of the issues arising from reports over the matter cannot but agree with Okiro that the Principal Administrative Officer in the Press and Public Relations Unit of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Mr. Aaron Kaase, was really out to blackmail him for intentions that had nothing to do with the public interests of Nigerians.
It is difficult to fault the genuine accounts of Mr. Okiro on this matter when he asserted, at a press conference, in Abuja on June 8, 2015, that “the PSC spent N217.3million of the money and that the remaining N132.6 million was returned to the commission’s project account”. His traducer, Mr. Kaase, had claimed, in his petition to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), that “the money was part of the N350 million collected by the PSC for monitoring conferences and training of staff ahead of the March/April general election”. As any rational mind must be able to attest, an Okiro-led PSC out to defraud the government would not have left a balance of the money in a special account of the PSC. If the intention was to embezzle public funds, the N132.6million, left in a special account of the PSC, would have ended up in the private bank accounts of Mr. Okiro and other high officials of the PSC.
Again, Mr. Okiro made the point that “because the approval from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) came late, we were able to conduct only a one-day training, and the PSC staff were paid their allowances and daily travelling allowance (DTA) for the exercise and their entitlements for the journey to the states for the monitoring”. Mr. Kaase had said “that instead of the four-day approval granted by the Bureau of Public Procurement, a mock training of two hours was conducted at Northgate Hotels Limited, Mararaba, Nasarawa State instead of Kano State”. However, an objective appraisal of the two positions stated here shows that while Okiro is right, Mr. Kaase is mischievously wrong. If approval for the trainings were granted only a few days to the Presidential and National Assembly elections, was it still feasible to conduct a four day training exercise? Of course, it does not take any superior intellect to appreciate the fact that the only reason a balance of N132.6 million was left in a special account of the PSC was because a four-day training exercise was reduced to one.
In all honesty, no sensible mind will take Mr. Kaase seriously, when he suggested that the entire N350 million was shared amongst the following companies which were simply fronts for Mr. Okiro’s financial empire; Bobec & Associates (N95,525,000.00), Direct Knowledge Consult Limited (N95,000,000.00) and Tzone Communications Limited (N85,000,000.00). In a situation where the approval from the BPP meant awarding the training contracts through the selective bidding process rather than the public bidding process, was the right thing to do not that of awarding the contracts to known and registered contracting companies with the PSC? Mr. Kaase would have had a case if he had shown that the companies that were awarded the training contracts were not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and also did not meet the registration requirements for participation in contracting endeavours emanating from the PSC. As long as Mr. Kaase has failed to show that the companies that got the PSC training contracts were not qualified to embark on the endeavours they handled for the PSC, his claim that Mr. Okiro abused the powers of his office by awarding the training contracts to his girlfriend and cronies showed he was on an idle mission, rather than attempting to expose corrupt practices at the PSC.
In any case, what point did Mr. Kaase set out to make when he claimed that “Okiro has failed to refund the money granted for the other three days in his request letter?” If, as things are becoming clearer by the day that there is a N132.6 million balance from the N350 million in a special project account of the PSC, what kind of money refund is Mr. Kaase talking about? Is Mr. Okiro expected to refund monies already paid to the contracting firms to conduct the one-day training exercise? Is Mr. Okiro required to repay the funds he had already deployed to paying for the allowances and DTA of the PSC staff who travelled to the states to monitor police performance, during the 2015 general elections? What really is the problem for which Mr. Okiro is being antagonised by Mr. Kaase?
It is even patently mischievous that just immediately after stating that “Okiro has failed to refund money granted for the other three days in his request letter”, Mr. Kaase attempts to buttress his assertion by insisting “an example was when he (Okiro) collected the sum of N3,601,000.00; his Police Orderly, Insp. George Todonu collected the sum of N1,131,000.60, to attend the conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police from 25th – 28th October, 2014 in Orlando, Florida, USA, and the Nigeria/Ireland International Forum, which held in Dublin, Ireland on the 28th of October, 2014 without attending none”! Pray, how do events that took place in October 2014 in the USA and Ireland serve as an example of Mr. Okiro’s fraudulent mismanagement of N275.5million intended for the training of PSC staff for monitoring the performance of police personnel during the 2015 general elections in Nigeria? Is this mix-up in Mr. Kaase’s narrative not the result of a convoluted thinking, arising from a pathological hate campaign to drag the image of Mr. Okiro to the mud? If Mr. Kaase cannot cite a single evidence of Mr. Okiro’s benefit from the N350 million he claimed the PSC sourced from the National Security Adviser (NSA), it would be safe to conclude that he was out to ridicule and embarrass Nigeria, and should, therefore, be dealt with accordingly for his unpatriotic act.
In the final analysis, the point just has to be made that Mr. Kaase’s tantrums against Mr. Okiro, in the name of idle petitions to the ICPC and the EFCC, over the alleged mismanagement of the sum of N350 million, remains a failed blackmailing scheme. There is nothing in the petitions against Mr. Okiro that should warrant the ICPC and the EFCC wasting their scarce resources in the name of investigating the mismanagement of funds earlier earmarked for training monitors and monitoring of police officers engaged for the 2015 general elections. Mr. Okiro was being charitable, to a fault, when he wasted precious time and energy he ought to have deployed to the service of the nation, as the Chairman of the PSC, to granting an unnecessary press conference expected to counter the mischievous concoctions of Mr. Kaase, an undisguised blackmailer pretending to be an anti-corruption crusader.
*Adegoke writes from No 5, Cuito Crescent,
Off Yesderam Street, Maitama, Abuja.