Chirac: When A Corrupt Past Beckons

Just six months after relocating from the Elysée Presidential Palace in a democratic change of baton (having handed same over to his successor Nicholas Sarkozy) former French President Jacques Chirac has found himself in a hot corrupt soup linked to his past as the Mayor of the city of Paris. By his summoning and appearance a fortnight ago before a a jury Chirac becomes the first former French Head of State to be put on corruption examination for misapplication of public funds in an affair of ‘chargé de mission’ of Paris administrative council as the Mayor.

Announcing his judicial examination his lawyer Maitre Jean Veil indicated that the judge Justice Xaviere Simeoni had considered that “grave and concordant indices” weighed against Chirac in this matter of paying wholly unemployed or partially employed workers of the then ruling RPR party by the Mayor’s office before 1995, the year Chirac ascended to the Presidency in France straight from his mayoral position. For more than thirty years Mr Chirac enjoyed state apparatus rising from one political position to a higher one until he reached the pinnacle in 1995.

With state immunity guaranteed by the constitution Jaaques Chirac was almost above the law shielded from prosecution by the instrumentality of the state. But after the June disengagement from power he became an ordinary Frenchman triable by the justice. July 19th he was quizzed as an assistant witness in another dirty affair linked to (fictitious) ghost workers of the RPR party. According to his lawyer Chirac’s appearance before judges in ‘Palais de la Justice’ in Paris and his oral testimony was done in “the best atmosphere”.

To the lawyer Chirac “was not accused of any personal enrichment”. So investigation continues and Chirac is expected to appear again in few months time to confront new evidences of aiding and abetting public fund wastage. The lawyer maintained that the ex-president’s interrogation was in line with the “general organisation of mayoralty of Paris and the organigram of responsibilities of one and others”.

The police probing the matter are interested in other contracts signed by Chirac as the all-powerful Mayor of Paris metropolis between 1977 and 1995. The years 1980 to 1990 were the years over twenty senior employees of the Mayoral office under Chirac are being accused of employing some phoney people who drew salaries from the state resources. Five former directors under Chirac have been placed on examination having allegedly contributed to the financial bleeding of the metropolis.

Former Mayor Chirac’s son Claude is equally being investigated for his role as an adviser in the Paris Mayoralty during his father’s leadership. Between 1989 to 1993 Mr Claude Chirac was said to have earned salaries undeservedly whereas employed fully elsewhere in a private company. Talk of “my father is the king, so do I”!

The Chirac odyssey in France reminds one of our own stinkingly corrupt immediate past President Olusegun Obasanjo whose financial recklessness and misapplication and outright embezzlement while in power call for a detailed probe which must involve summoning him to provide his own defense like Chirac. Obasanjo defrauded the Nigerian state for eight years inflicting mortal fiscal blows to her patrimony. For a man who was reportedly financially going bankrupt, whose business empire almost crumbled pre-1999 (no thanks to the Abacha onslaught) just a space of eight years in Aso Rock could not have changed his fortune profile catapulting him to become the richest Nigerian alive; that could not have been possible without criminal deals and graft and scam — all aimed against the interest of the state and her people.

For a man whose remaining friends (having been deserted by true friends on account of his perfidy and mischief) include the notorious irredeemable thug-father in Ibadan, Lamidi Adedibu, life outside power could be unsettling hence the need to ‘plant’ a surrogate who would ensure certain interests are protected and justice trampled upon. By foisting President Yar’Adua on the nation Obasanjo knew that his evil days would soon after May 29 be exposed and justice demanded. Today more and more concerned patriots and organisations are up in arms against his eight-year organized robbery of the state treasury, he and his gang of PDP charlattans.

For a highly-despised ex-leader to have ‘dashed’ Bakassi Peninsula out to Cameroun with the lives of Nigerians living in that territory compromised nay jeopardized without any constitutional backing is reprehensible to say the least. Obasanjo was quick to hand over Bakassi because he desperately wanted to garner international respect as a statesman against the abiding interest of Nigerian citizens resident for centuries in Bakassi. Today loud voices of opposition from home and abroad are gathering steam! If Obasanjo said he notified the former Senate in writing did they ratify the ceding before it was implemented?

When a corrupt past beckons Obasanjo like Chirac should not hide under any self-righteousness or whatever sentiments unknown to justice. Unlike Chirac whose ‘crime’ is infinitesimal compared to monumental looting of the Nigerian treasury by Obasanjo Baba Iyabo’s many crimes against the nation and her citizens cry to high heavens for justice to be done. Unlike Chirac who made himself available for interrogation with dignity Obasanjo spends quality time running his mega chains of business interests, provoking us all with his unguarded unstatesmanly statements and playing draft with his old friends in Ota. It is about time this arrogant fox is made to feel the heat of the law.

Olusegun Obasanjo deserves, as Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Ojukwu has suggested, to be taken to his backyard in Ota, tied to a stake, blindfolded hands and legs bound, and shot. His crimes against the Nigerian state were worse than those committed daily by both pen robbers and armed robbers. I believe very few Nigerians would shed tears for this old man without shame if this jungle justice (with which the Nigerian police is reputed) is meted out to him.

To Jacques Chirac therefore one can only say: for whom the corrupt bell tolls let him brace up for the challenge of proving himself not-guilty or otherwise. His case is a sweet justice music from France. And his possible indictment will even be a sweeter music for justice lovers and impunity/immunity haters all around the world. The sweetest music will only come when Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo is arrested and docked to answer proven cases of large-scale financial fraud and unpatriotic acts while in power.

Then and only then shall we all sing Halleluyah to the Almighty! Happy that another Ferdinand Marcos of Nigeria has fallen after the one that fell while eating poisoned apple imported from somewhere. And happier that there are prospects of another one in Minna, Ibrahim Babangida following suit in that cruel style.

Written by
SOC Okenwa
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