Photocredits Dave Woollacott/Carters News
Ever imagined a lion the supposed king of the jungle, running for its dear life with a herd of buffalo in hot pursuit? Well even the lawless jungles where only the strongest and the fittest survive have rules of survival. The strongest or the fittest who breach it rarely live to tell the story.
The title of this piece is derived from a programme on National Geographic Channel depicting scenes in the wild where a predator is running from a prey as pictured above.
Just like the jungle, the law can easily turn against those who set it in motion against perceived enemies or opponents. Like they say in popular parlance, “no be person wey call police dey always win case”. Below is an example of such a funny episode where the mover of the law ends up a victim of the law.
With its April 18 2005 issue, the News Magazine was in the news again. The Magazine, famous for exposing many scandals was at its best as it had exposed the rot in the Nigerian Ports Authority under foremost PDP Chieftain Olabode George as the Chairman. Titled “Anti Corruption War: N85 billion Scam At The Ports. Bode George’s Board Indicted.” George who relished his Lagos Boy status in political circles was quick to rush to court and slammed a N2, 000, 000, 000. 00 (Two Billion Naira) Libel suit on the News Magazine and Daily Independent Newspaper which had also published the report.
A quick one on the Lagos Boy. Olabode George was one of the PDP Lords of the Southwest under the Obasanjo administration and a thorn in the government of the then governor of Lagos State Bola Tinubu who was in the opposition. George strut the political landscape like a peacock; a rumour had once hit the news scene that George was beaten by thugs at a party event. Vintage George will react to enquiries by journalists on the veracity of the news thus; “thugs, beat me up during our party primaries? Impossible! Am a proper Lagos boy”.
So Mr. Lagos Boy was out to teach the nosy journalist to mind their business but then he got himself into bigger trouble. While the case dragged on at the Lagos High Court, there arose a new Pharoah who did not know Joseph as Olusegun Obasanjo handed power over to Yar’Adua. With the publicity Mr. Lagos boy had brought to his alleged corrupt tenure via his libel suit against the News and the Daily independent, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) needed not to look further for a high profile scape goat to boost their ratings which had dwindled. Mrs. Farida Waziri had just taken up the reins at the EFCC after the controversial ouster of former chairman Nuhu Ribadu whom it was alleged, had on Obasanjo’s instructions spared George from prosecution.
Lagos boy in the dock! Photo credit dailytrust.com.ng
The EFCC had slammed Chief Olabode George with a 163 count charge (later reduced to 63) bothering on abuse of office and other corrupt acts. George unperturbed and in his usual Lagos boy braggaciado had dismissed the charges as a plot by his enemies to bring him down (the usual refrain of corrupt Nigerian politicians).
He made all his court appearances before the Justice Oyewole of the Lagos State High Court a colourful carnival with his supporters dressed in different aso ebi and singing his praises. Mr. Lagos boy had expected the government to withdraw the case or at most, he would be discharged and acquitted but then he forgot that he was standing trial before the Honourable Justice Oyewole and had Festus Keyamo prosecuting.
Both were synonymous with integrity. Justice Oyewole had to his name a string of high profile convictions while Keyamo was a human rights activist whose legal practice was not friendly to those in the corridors of power especially when it had to do with corruption.
On 26th October, 2009 Lagos Boy and four other co-accused got the shock of their lives when they were convicted by Justice Oyewole on 47 out of the 63 counts charges and were slammed with a total of 28 year jail term on the convicted counts. That however amounted to 30 months as they would run concurrently. Vintage Oyewole who had sent the 419 kingpin Chief Emmanuel Nwude to Prison and had sentenced Reverend King to death was unsmiling and unsparing in his 110 pages judgment as he denied them the option of paying a fine;
“When public office is abused, the entire system is assaulted. This must not be condoned or treated with kid gloves if the quality of services in our public life is to attain an appreciable standard of civilised world. For the right deterrent to be served therefore, sufficient firmness must be demonstrated.”
A stunned Lagos boy it was alleged had told his lawyer Chief Tunji Ayanlaja “Chief Tunji please do everything in your powers to see that I do not go to that place (Maximum Security Prison).” His supporters went hysterical as Lagos Boy and his gang began their journey to their 30 months education at the VIP section of the kirikiri maximum security prison.
It would take four months for Justice Oshodi to determine the libel suit with which Lagos Boy had put himself on full blast on EFCC’s radar. Justice Oshodi was unsparing as he dismissed the suit and slammed Bode George as a man without character. Basing his verdict on George’s conviction on the same crime he alleged was libellous, he said;
“A man cannot lay claim to a reputation that he never had. And as such this case fails in its entirety.”
Mr. Lagos boy was a hunter that ended up in the belly of the bush meat while on the hunt for the bush meat for a whooping two years. See wetin some silly journalists cause!
Postscript: Chief George’s conviction was quashed and upturned by the Supreme Court on 13 December 2013 but that was 2 years after he completed his jail term. So he was saved the ex-convict tag. Proper Lagos boy indeed.