The litigious fight against corruption in Delta State: Comrade Kpokpogri, ICPC and the rest of us

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Fighting corruption in a nation like Nigeria is certainly a complex
phenomenon but it remains a very necessary ingredient that would help
strengthen democracy because a victory over financial sleaze in
governance will ensure that the collective wealth of citizens are
properly utilized for common good. However, when emotions and
falsehoods are introduced to misguide interpretations of reality in
the fight against corruption, such depletes any good motive and may
even create an atmosphere in which could foster great doubts over a
society’s morale in curbing corruption.

Specifically, at the state government level, the on going call on the
Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission
(ICPC) by an implied NGO, ‘Delta State Youth for Good Governance
(YFGG)’ to institute a probe on the activities of Dr. Emmanuel
Uduaghan, the immediate past governor of Delta State is exceedingly
commendable. Nevertheless, on accusations against Dr. Uduaghan by
YFGG, even without a valid formal guilty verdict, the truth is that if
really there is anyone or group to blame, it should realistically be
the Delta State political class and the good men that kept mute over
Dr. Uduaghan’s assumed huge financial misdeeds as presented by his
petitioners.

Be that as it may, it is very important to state that the emergence of
opportunistic groups like the so called ’Delta State Youth for Good
Governance’ and its sister organisation, ’Anti Corruption and
Integrity Forum’ as led by one Comrade Prince Kpokpogri serving as
mouth piece of Nigerian anti corruption crusaders is not only
ludicrous, dangerous but most unfortunate. This is especially so
because the known behaviour and antecedent of these two groups and
their leadership approach regarding corruption fight are largely
inconsistent with the duties associated with focused NGOs for the very
simple reason that both organisations have verifiable records that
portray them as poisoned by politics and money.

For avoidance of doubt, this writer does not in any way oppose the
views of those that believe that most state governors in Nigeria
engage in many untoward financial malpractices especially given the
broad public’s conception that state governors under the cover of the
iniquitous immunity clause run their administrations like Emperors
with colossus status that allows them to single handedly conduct the
financial affairs of their state with self interest and greed as top
priority. Besides these conjectures of financial misdemeanor which are
best left for proper constituted authorities to determine because of
the necessity of upholding the presumption of innocence accorded
accused persons, however, it will be an inexcusable betrayal for any
fair minded person to dismiss any constructive petition that suggests
the possibility of Dr. Uduaghan’s membership of this fold of alleged
treasury looters without rationalization.

Whilst it should be the desire of every well meaning Deltan to support
a fair probe of the Dr. Uduaghan’s administration for the specific
purpose of returning any alleged looted fund to the Delta State
treasury which will be very useful to the new administration of the
Governor. Ifeanyi Okowa especially in this period of dwindling
financial resources to state governments, it is however very
unfortunate to observe that the past activities and conduct of the
two organisations under reference that have dragged Dr Uduaghan to the
ICPC which are led by one man have not only demonstrated phony
objectivity in the fight against fraud in Delta State but are well
noted to be working in conflict with set standards on anti corruption.
This is why their connection in championing corruption fight in Delta
state should be viewed with great suspicion. A clear instance that
these purported NGOs on anti corruption have been operating under
false pretexts is visible from the remarks and unprofessional actions
of the leader of both groups, Comrade Prince Kpokpogri. For emphasis,
in two recent similar public petitions by these NGOs to the Chairman
of the ICPC, vide a letter dated 20th November 2015, captioned “RE:
Demand for immediate probe of outgoing (sic) Governor of Delta State,
Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan and some Delta State Government officials
including Mr. Oritsuwa Kpogho, Mr. Kenneth Okpara, Mr. Daniel Mayuku,
Mr. C.C. Agbele and Mr. Peter Onwunsanya over the embezzlement of
N225,616,712 (sic) billion funds meant for Delta State Oil Producing
Areas Development Commission (DESOPADEC)’, the author of the
petitions, Comrade Prince Kpokpogri drew up a long list of yet to be
substantiated accusations on how Dr. Uduaghan allegedly ran Delta
state as a Banana Republic and looted its treasury. On the surface,
these may be considered as very good information for any financial
crime fighting agency but in reality, it may just be a pretense of
corruption fight with a bag full of fictitious claims because on the
converse, in an earlier edition of Pointer newspapers captioned
“We Need to Celebrate Uduaghan’s Performance –Prince Kpokpogri
http://thepointernewsonline.com/?p=22005”, the same Comrade Kpokpogri
tumbled over the edge when he stated that “the governor’s performance
should be celebrated rather than castigating him”. He even commented
that “every Deltan should celebrate and pray for him for a job well
done because the state capital is now destination for foreign
investors and tourists due to the peaceful atmosphere coupled with
hard work and foresight of Governor Uduaghan”. Quite ridiculous, you
may say! One question, with what and when has Asaba become global
attraction if not for Kpokpogri’s greed and blindness to truth.

To any objective analyst, the above comments by Comrade Kpokpogri are
obvious paradoxes that will lead anyone to be skeptical of his
involvement in corruption fight. His volte-face in asking for probe of
the same government he praised to high heaven is a sham and dismal
example of his self styled anti corruption engagement especially given
that the accused Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan has even disclosed that this
entire Kpokpogri’s epistle is borne out of a failed blackmail attempt
to extort two billion naira from him. Without necessarily holding
brief for Dr. Uduaghan or exonerating him from any of the allegations,
the fact is that Kpokpogri’s activities in Delta state exemplifies the
perilous existence of fake anti corruption crusaders in our midst and
it is sadly obvious that anyone that follows Kpokpogri must be sure
that he is taking the wrong turn as it is very certain that his
intentions on anti corruption are only of selfish ends.

In fact, a man with an antecedent that connotes the use of deception
for personal gains should have no justification finger pointing.
Simply put, what this really does show is that at times, life presents
itself as a phenomenal process of long list of strange events that are
most times too difficult to comprehend. Otherwise, how can someone
even imagine that the basic pretence all along by Kpokpogri in
cunningly orchestrating media outings that project his anti corruption
endeavours as an activity that would benefit the society was just a
farce to make money for himself. Furthermore, the issue of blackmail
and extortion associated with Kpokpogri as alleged by Dr. Uduaghan
raises significant issues of hypocrisy and deceit that should be of
substantial public interest and important for the attention of the
ICPC, otherwise, ignoring a thorough investigation on the activities
of Kpokpogri by the Nigerian Police will be a slap in the face that
may even portray the nation’s anti corruption war in a bad light.
Again, the aim of this write up is not to stop any investigation on
the allegations raised against Dr. Uduaghan but to halt Kpokpogri from
thrusting the ICPC’s credibility into his pit of delusion for self
enrichment. Already, across the internet and Delta political spectrum,
Kpokpogri has shown that he is not only cunning but highly
misrepresenting information with a dubious agenda. This is why the
crime fighting agencies which he claims to forge close ties with some
of its officials should not be blind to the many obvious inadequacies
and inconsistencies of petitions written by Kpokpogri and his cohorts.

Another faulty end of Kpokpogri’s misdeeds is on the long list of
officials of the Delta state government he claimed are guilty even
before any trial. Nevertheless, this is not surprising because
manufacturing accusations that are false or fabricating reports to
undermine most government officials is where Kpokpogri’s seeming
expertise in anti corruption lies. That he exploits the weakness and
timidity of innocent people that are baselessly afraid to face the
anti corruption agencies by demanding money from them is well known
because it is on record that where such persons reach a compromise
with him, he goes to the crime fighting agencies to withdraw his
petitions as reciprocal concessions. Perhaps, this may be the reason
why some media outfits have reported that Kpokpogri does not respond
to requests for clarifications or calls to authenticate his
accusations which points to the possibility that he may not be relying
on any credible evidence to back his petitions but on his ignorant
belief and opinion that once you are a government official, you must
be corrupt and a potential client for his antics.

In any case, such a false belief by Kpokpogri is clear indication of
his lack of knowledge, dishonesty, and all-round limited information
despite his self acclaimed status as an anti corruption crusader. In
fact, Kpokpogri’s attempt to criminalize everyone in Delta State
government by picking anyone that holds public office as corrupt
including some persons that were recently praised for their prudence
and sacrifice to protect the state treasury in the twilight of Dr.
Uduaghan’s administration shows his undesirable drift from corruption
battle. On this, it is common knowledge that many people have quietly
denounced the approach of Kpokpogri but out fear have remained
taciturn. However, the mounting complex web of allegations on
extortion against Kpokpogri has raised the need to put a fresh focus
on the way he castigates and accuses people with no shred of credible
evidence until they meet his terms or buy his friendship. This is
absurd and has the potential to wreck the nation’s corruption fight,
if left unaddressed because a man that portrays an anti corruption
image, yet embarks on a drive of intimidation against those that do
not conform to his terms is an implicit threat to the genuine efforts
of organisations like the ICPC.

Once again, I affirm that the need to probe the Uduaghan’s
administration is laudable and meets our collective quest to address
corruption, but with Kpokpogri, it will only produce some absurd
results except he is made to authenticate some of his accusations with
credible evidence before leading the ICPC into a wild goose chase. For
now, the narration of Kpokpogri as a corruption fighter is a
depressing one because his grotesque failures in the past to extort
money from people are well documented and these have taken corruption
fight in Delta state to a frightening landscape that lack the creed of
objectivity. Simply put, Kpokpogri is not far from the description of
a man that is desperate to blunt the truth in an attempt to achieve
his commercial interest. When EFCC does not listen to him, he turns to
the ICPC; a case in point is this petition under reference that was
initially directed to the EFCC but presumably discarded.

There are plenty unanswered but important questions surrounding
Kpokpogri’s involvement in corruption battle and these issues are no
doubt complicated and beyond the scope of this write up. Nevertheless,
one thing that is beyond all doubts is that Kpokpogri is a charlatan
aided and abetted by his two NGOs for extortion and his activities
reveals the complex twists in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
This whole indescribably appalling episode is one major example that
the operations of the ICPC if not well managed can be abused with
impunity by people with ulterior motives.

The unabated irrelevance of Comrade Kpokpogri’s fight against
corruption in Delta state needs to be addressed as part of sustaining
President Buhari’s credibility in the fight against corruption.
Otherwise, the likes of Kpokpogri may in their warped logic and
conduct simply assume they are the smartest men around. Indeed, we
need not bow to his extortion tricks, otherwise very soon, we all
shall become his victims or be accused as co travelers in a fake
corruption fight. To state that Comrade Kpokpogri is dangerous for a
society in search of truth and redemption is an obvious reality and
the anti-graft agencies under President Buhari’s administration must
watch his activities more closely.

Dr. Ephraim Okwuosa
Co-ordinator, Anti Corruption Advocates, Area 11, Garki, Abuja

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Eze Chucks is an experienced media practitioner. He has worked for several news organisation.He has pioneered many online news website as an editor . He holds a B.Sc Economics degree and a masters degree email:editor@compassnewspaper.com.ng