Out in the cold! How Rotimi Amaechi’s Resignation May Affect His Lackey, Mohammed Bello-Koko:

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Out in the cold! How Rotimi Amaechi’s Resignation May Affect His Lackey, Mohammed Bello-Koko:

Out in the cold! How Rotimi Amaechi’s Resignation May Affect His Lackey, Mohammed Bello-Koko:
May 25
10:24 2022

*What the transport minister’s resignation means for Bello-Koko’s career
*Pandora papers: Anatomy of his corruption scandal

For Mohammed Bello-Koko, the die is cast. His job at the NPA may become a gallery of public haunt even as his misery finds a tongue in shame and the babble of scornful brooks.

Like a lost tramp seeking direction and faith on the curbstone of desire, Bello-Koko would accept any help that comes his way as his benefactor and godfather, transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, gets kicked to the curb in the high-octane political chess game, en route the 2023 general elections.

As Amaechi  resigned his position in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, Bello-Koko would be left exposed and unprotected.

Bello-Koko replaced Hadiza Bala as the head honcho of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). Bala was suspended last year for alleged misconduct and corruption. However, the government did not make public the probe report on the allegations made against Ms. Bala by Amaechi. At Bala’s sack, Amaechi installed his lackey, Bello-Koko as the acting MD of the NPA.

At Bello-Koko’s appointment, however, the political and socioeconomic spaces were scandalised as pundits and stakeholders protested President Buhari’s preference for Bello-Koko. And the reason is not far-fetched; the new NPA boss had recently been fingered in a corruption scandal.

Last November, an online newspaper reported how Bello-Koko, then acting MD of NPA, hid behind two firms tucked away in the British Virgin Islands, notorious secrecy and tax haven, to invest in the London property market, a common destination for dirty money flowing from the Global South.

The revelations came from Pandora Papers, a trove of 11.9 million leaked confidential records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, ICIJ. The ICIJ then coordinated a team of 617 journalists from 150 news outlets, including those from PREMIUM TIMES, to dive into the data.
The reporters spent two years sifting through the leaked records, tracking down sources, and digging into court files and other public records from dozens of countries. It is the biggest collaboration of investigative journalists – from 117 countries and territories – in history.

The leaked records came from 14 offshore services firms from around the world that set up shell companies and other offshore nooks for clients like Bello-Koko, who seek to shroud their financial activities, often suspicious, in secrecy.
Bello-Koko reportedly used two BVI-incorporated shell companies – Marney Limited and Couldwood Limited – to secretly acquire a total of five London properties, including one in 2017 after his public service appointment. He was appointed executive director for finance and administration in 2016 and later acting MD in 2021 before taking his substantive appointment this week.

As a public servant, he continued to serve as a director of the two companies in breach of the country’s code of conduct law. The full extent of the officer’s violation of the country’s laws has not been fully determined but, last year, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, the Nigerian chapter of Transparency International, demanded a transparent investigation of Bello-Koko and others.

The Code of Conduct Bureau declared a commitment, last year, to investigate the Pandora Papers investigations. However, such an announcement has never been matched with action.
Findings revealed that Bello-Koko had been enjoying the protection of his godfather, Amaechi, thus mocking the anti-corruption efforts of the government.

So comfortable was he under his benefactor’s protection that when the latter declared his intention to vie for the nation’s number one seat and succeed President Buhari, it seemed incontestable that he and his godfather were on to better days.
But for a snag. Contrary to Amaechi’s expectation that President Buhari would back his ambition and anoint him as his preferred aspirant/successor, Buhari read the riot act to Amaechi and other ministers in his cabinet seeking political offices come 2023.
Buhari had directed members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) seeking elective positions to resign their appointment and focus on their ambition.
Buhari thus dealt Amaechi a devastating blow alongside four other ministers, Timipre Sylva, Chris Ngige, Godswill Akpabio, and Abubakar Malami, to resign their current positions in his cabinet, as stipulated by the country’s constitution, if they truly intended to vie for substantive public offices at the 2023 elections.

Amaechi and co didn’t see it coming at all. They thought they could have their cake and eat it – none of them wished to vacate their current position even while seeking higher elective offices as president and governor.

Immediately after Buhari read the riot act to them, the Ministers of Justice/Attorney-General of the Federation and Education respectively, Abubakar Malami and Chris Ngige, have beaten a retreat. They’d rather enjoy the largesse of their current offices than resigning for the uncertainty of their governorship (Malami) and presidential (Ngige) ambitions.
However, Bello-Koko is currently in dire straits, hoping desperately that his godfather, Amaechi rescinds his decision to resign and ditch his presidential ambition. If Amaechi should go ahead with his decision, the situation will undoubtedly render Bello-Koko unprotected and vulnerable to prosecution.

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