They have been charged to court for allegedly looting the common till as governors of their states. For once, a livid nation expected the fabled slow wheel of justice to grind fast on this score to serve as a deterrent to their successors.
But, years after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed a raft of graft-related charges against this set of former governors, they somehow continue to keep justice at bay, to the chagrin of the citizenry.
In the face of this seeming evasive search for justice the EFCC has absolved itself of any blame. Rather, the commission has laid the blame at the doorsteps of the nation's judiciary, accusing the Bench and the Bar of being responsible for delays in the prosecution efforts.
With the exception of the hasty trial of former governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbinedion, the EFCC has a backlog of stalled corruption cases involving ex-governors scattered across various courts in the country.
Spokesman of the anti-graft agency, Wilson Uwujaren, in an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, maintained that the EFCC remained focused and committed to prosecuting these former governors.
However, Uwujaren said the judiciary needed to scale up its contributions to sanitising the society by helping to fast-track the trials of allegedly corrupt former state governors and others.
He said: "The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, I can tell you, is committed to carrying out its duties to the letter.
This I can tell you with all sense of modesty. Check the records and see for yourself. We have remained consistent in the prosecution of all persons who breach the economic and financial laws of this country.
As we speak, the commission has several graft cases filed against past state governors in various courts. Our job is to investigate and take matters to court after diligent investigations, which we have continued to do.
"No doubt, the judiciary has been playing key roles in the development of this country. What one hopes for, in addition to this, is a situation where the judiciary can grant expeditious trials to corruption cases of all kinds. A situation where lawyers use technicalities to delay or terminate prosecution of valid evidence of graft against a former governor is worrisome."
In 2006, the pioneer chairman of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu pledged to prosecute all corrupt governors after they left office. He fired the first salvo by arraigning former Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, at a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Fayose's trial was the first time any ex-governor would be dragged to court by the EFCC on charges of corruption. He was arraigned on a 51-count charge bordering on alleged stealing of N1.2bn while in office. His case was dogged by repeated requests for adjustments; is currently on bail since 2007.
Another highly celebrated graft case filed against an ex-governor by the EFCC involved Mr. James Ibori of Delta State. Ibori was initially arraigned on a 170-count charge of corruption involving N9.2bn. His lawyers challenged the jurisdictional rights of the Kaduna Federal High Court where his matter was being heard. It was then decided that the case should be reassigned to the chief judge of Asaba Federal High Court.
Without taking plea, Ibori applied to quash charges entered against him and won. The EFCC, however, in 2009 filed fresh charges against him even as it filed an appeal against the ruling. Ibori decided to bolt away from the country and was subsequently declared wanted. The fugitive ex-governor was later arrested in Dubai for extradition to the United Kingdom (UK) where he was jailed on money laundering charges. He is currently serving time in a UK prison.
Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State, is also in the roll-call of ex-governors on the waiting trial list. He was arraigned over alleged N5bn graft by the EFCC in a case filed since June 11, 2007. Despite the 107-count charge entered against him, Kalu went on appeal to stay the trial against him. He has been on bail since 2008.
Saminu Turaki, former governor of Jigawa State, is also in the anti-graft commission's net. Arraigned on a 32-count charge for alleged graft totalling N36bn, the matter is currently on hold after he sought and obtained stay of execution at the Court of Appeal. He has been enjoying a bail granted in the year 2007.
Joshua Dariye, former governor of Plateau State, was arraigned in July 2007 for allegedly mismanaging the sum of N700 million. He was arraigned on a 23-count charge, but his counsel challenged the jurisdiction of an Abuja High Court to hear the matter. He was granted bail since 2007. The matter is still pending.
Former Governor Jolly Nyame of Taraba State is also accused by the EFCC of allegedly fleecing N300 million state funds. He was arraigned at a Federal High Court, Abuja, in 2007 on a 41-count charge of graft. He was granted bail in 2008 and the matter is still dragging on.
Chimaroke Nnamani, former governor of Enugu State, was also charged with alleged corruption by the EFCC in 2007. He was arraigned on a 105-count charge of graft totalling N5.3bn at a Federal High Court Lagos. His counsel alleged bias by the trial judge and sought transfer of the case to another court, in addition to having a grouse with the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.
Similarly, in 2008, Michael Botmang, one-time governor of Plateau State, was dragged before a Federal High court in Maitama, Abuja, over alleged N1.5bn graft. He was arraigned on a 31-count charge. The matter is still pending in court.
Boni Haruna, former governor of Adamawa state, was in 2008 dragged before a Federal High court, Maitama Abuja for N254m alleged graft. He was arraigned on an amended 28-count charge of graft. However, since he was granted bail in 2008, proceedings have been stayed.
Rasheed Ladoja, former governor of Oyo State, was equally arraigned by the EFCC at a Federal High Court Lagos on33-count charge of alleged corruption. He was alleged to have stolen N6bn and has been on bail after pleas were taken in court.
Attahiru Bafarawa, former governor of Sokoto State, was in December 2009 arraigned before a Sokoto State High Court. He was arraigned on a 47-count charge of graft totalling N15bn. After being remanded in custody, he was granted bail by the court.
Adamu Abdullahi, former governor of Nasarawa State, was in March 2009 charged to court by the EFCC over alleged 15bn graft but was afterwards granted bail. The matter is still pending in court.
Gbenga Daniel, former Ogun State governor, was also alleged to have misappropriated N58bn state fund. But at a preliminary hearing, he was discharged and acquitted by Judge OlanrewajuMabekoje of Abeokuta High Court, Ogun State. He was later re-arraigned on a 38-count charge of breach of trust by the EFCC. The case continues.
Adebayo Alao Akala, former Oyo State governor, was likewise charged to court by the EFCC for alleged mismanagement of N25bn state funds. As with others, including Akwe Doma, a former governor of Nasarawa, Alao Akala's case is still hanging in the balance.