February 8, 2013
SYSTEM CHANGE REMAINS OUR GOAL!
1. The Joint Action Front (JAF) joins Nigerians to condemn the law that encouraged the ridiculous sentence of 2 years imprisonment with an option of fine in the sum of N750,000 given to a former director of the Police Pensions Board, John Yakubu Yusufu, after he pleaded guilty to charges of stealing N23.3 billion from pension fund.
2. This is in the same country where the penalty of an Okada worker of 3 years imprisonment is more than that of a ruling class thief who stole billions. Equally, ordinary citizens who steal goats and chickens out of desperation and hunger caused by the UNJUST SYSTEM are sentenced to several years of imprisonment with hard labour and without option of fine. This is absolutely ridiculous.
3. JAF notes that the widespread outrage caused by the judgment has compelled the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to re-arrest and remand Yakubu Yusufu in Prison custody on the basis of fresh charges of not fully disclosing his asset. However this face-saving move by the EFCC has not succeeded in erasing its complicity in the ridiculous judgment on the basis of the unjust formula of plea-bargaining through which many notable thieves in the past have equally escaped justice in exchange for a part of their loot.
4. Nigerians should note that the rulers of Nigeria are not committed to fighting corruption,. Only SYSTEM CHANGE will end corruption. Thus, Yakubu Yusufu is not the first to be so lightly sentenced. Former Governor of Bayelsa State Diprieye Alamieyesiegha was in 2007 given a two-year sentence for money laundering, while Chief Lucky Igbinedion was convicted on a one-count charge of misappropriation of money in excess of N3billion and sentenced to six-month imprisonment with option of fine in the sum of N3.5 million.
5. Also, prominent on the list include the Deputy Chairman of the PDP Bode George who, as Chairman of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) in 2009 got 30-month jail term following his conviction on a 47-count charge of contract splitting and inflation Upon completing his term, Bode George left prison in style with a fanfare procession which ended in a thanksgiving church service! Little wonder therefore that unbridled corruption, official embezzlement and direct stealing from the treasury continue unabated despite regular promises of government to fight the scourge.
6. JAF insists on a living wage and posits that the scale of embezzlement of the pension funds should be a wakeup call for Labour to revisit the issue of pension management in order to ensure the safety of pension fund and its prompt access to the beneficiaries (workers).
7. It should be clear to the Nigerian working people in the formal and informal sectors that their pensions are in serious danger as Pension funds have become slush funds for government officials and their private cronies to embezzle. The participation of the private sector in the management of the funds makes this danger much more palpable as it is within the mandate of private Pension Fund Administrators and Pension Fund Custodians to invest the funds as they wish, and without the permission of workers, for profitable ventures.
8. JAF’s position for a living pension and its credible management is against the background of the sordid sharp practices exposed in the banking and financial sector combined with the instability in Nigeria’s economy, with implication for lost of the pension funds to the caprices of profit-hunting private pension funds operators.
9. In fact, government at all levels and irrespective of the political parties in power is nothing but a government of corruption. This is why JAF continues to call for SYSTEM CHANGE as the only way to rid Nigeria of these looters by putting in place a government of the working people and the poor that would be committed to using our collective wealth to better the lots of all Nigerians.
10. The so-called rule of law in Nigeria is a protector of ruling class thieves, who are in all cases, allowed to get away with light punishment. As far as JAF is concerned
11. JAF welcomes the resolve by the National Union of Pensioners (NUP) to hold a National Protest on February 25 to demand for the remittance of their check-off dues and 53 percent increment in their pensions. We urge Nigerians to prepare for a National Protest against pension robbery and monumental corruption in the country.
12. JAF demands as follows:
· The Retrial of Yakubu Yusufu, his imprisonment without option of fine and forfeiture of all his assets.
· That Labour should demand and campaign for a review of the Pension Act to entrust the management of pensions in the elected representatives of the trade unions, as well as to guarantee the safety of the pensions.
· To convince Nigerians of its claims of fighting corruption, Government at all levels should slash salaries and allowances of all political office holders and government appointees to the same level with that of the highest paid civil servants.
FORWARD EVER, BACKWARD NEVER
DR. DIPO FASHINA COMRADE ABIODUN AREMU
JAF Chairperson JAF Secretary