By Bature Sani Malumfashi.
It was quite unsettling last Tuesday to see former Katsina State Governor Barrister Ibrahim Shehu Shema being shoved into the EFCC version of a Black Maria, squashed between two operatives, with sirens blaring unceremoniously, this time heralding the transit to detention. It was a pathetic contrast to the more recent overly confident Shema dismissing any and all possibilities of being incarcerated in the face of several allegations of financial indiscretion while in office as governor.
His latest encounter with the long arm of the law did not emanate from Katsina State where he claims political witch hunt, but from the federal EFCC which has found cause to prosecute him for alleged conspiracy and money laundering of over five billion naira of the Subsidy Re-Investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) of the Federal Government. The Federal High Court in Katsina heard his not-guilty plea but still ordered the EFCC to keep him in custody until April 27, 2018 when it would resume sitting on his bail application.
This is not the first time Shehu Shema is being arraigned in court for various charges of financial wrong doing in Katsina where he once was the first citizen and the cumulative effect of these humbling appearances can only be imagined, especially on someone who paraded himself with all the pomp and pride of a peacock in dress and gait. Shema is certainly not unfamiliar with such twists of fate afflicting several previously Very Important Personalities turned Very Indicted Prisoners, from the long history of anti-corruption crusades especially under military regimes of the past.
Evidently, he never contemplated any twist or turn away from the “excellence” of privilege and power even after his tenure is over. Well informed politicians in Katsina State can recall the public-spirited initiatives of some respected community leaders and stakeholders in the state whose concern for a smooth, rancor free transition from Shema to Masari was roundly commended in the light of the nasty episodes that characterized such transitions in other states. Their concern was not so much about the personalities but more about the need to safeguard the exalted status of respect and authority vested in the office of governor from the public ridicule and defamatory perception linked to the political tribulations and court trials of previous holders of the office.
The idea was to bring outgoing and incoming governors together under the goodwill auspices of respected leaders and stakeholders for the purpose of harmonizing the hand-over process to foster mutual understanding as well as reach an amicable common ground on the resolution of any issues in contention or requiring commitment. The incoming governor is usually less inclined to such arrangements for obvious reasons of vicarious responsibility and political correctness while the outgoing is the ultimate beneficiary of a soft-landing for any matters arising.
However, in this case, the respected leaders and stakeholders were taken aback, nay disappointed, when outgoing Shema repeatedly rebuffed such intervention harping on his self-righteous insistence on being above-board and even expressing a pompous preference and willingness to prove his impeccable faultlessness at anytime and place, including courts of law. His stance was a negation of the spirit of the initiative and an absurd attitude as it was more sensible to use the amicable forum if indeed there was nothing amiss in the tenure of the outgoing governor than to opt for the protracted, costly and potentially antagonistic process of investigation and prosecution. Yet all entreaties on Shema to reciprocate the unhesitating acceptance of the informal forum by incoming Governor Masari met with his obviously exaggerated self-righteous claim thereby setting the stage for his on-going trials and tribulations that not only question his professed perfection but are also clearly self-inflicted.
Without prejudice to the unfolding investigative and judicial processes linked to Shehu Shema’s tenure as Governor of Katsina State and their outcome, it remains a curious case of pride coming before a fall that he chose to shun the well-considered and public spirited initiative of respected leaders and stakeholders for a smooth and rancor free handing over process based on mutual understanding between him and his successor only to expose himself to the public embarrassment, physical discomfort and psychological trauma of court arraignment, EFCC custody and retrospective reflections on the twists and turns of life. Experience is indeed the best teacher!
Malumfashi wrote from No 51, Daura Street, Kofar Kaura Layout, Katsina.