28th April, 2015
The national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has denied that he once begged for the forgiveness of a leader of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos, Chief Olabode George.
The latter in a press interview at the weekend spoke of an encounter in Ibadan at the burial of Alhaji Alao Arisekola, between himself and Tinubu, where he said Tinubu apologised to him for ‘wronging’ him.
Bode George was jailed in October 2009 ago by Justice Olubunmi Oyewole, over his role as chairman of the board of the Nigeria Ports Authority. The board and management of the government company were found guilty of contract splitting and inflation. George was jailed 30 months, although last year, the Supreme Court reversed the verdict.
In the aftermath of his release from prison, George had accused Bola Tinubu of being behind the mastermind of his prison sentence, though it was the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, a federal agency that prosecuted him.
George still held on to this belief when he spoke with The Punch on Sunday, a claim that spurred Tinubu’s response.
“I was informed about a recent interview by Bode George in one of the national dailies and felt it necessary to clarify his claim that I begged him for forgiveness. I don’t know when and how I ever offended Mr.George. I have never wronged the man or even thought of it. I sought no forgiveness because no forgiveness was needed.
“I think somehow he is still trying to implicate me as instigating the criminal proceedings once lodged against him. From my recollection, Mr. George was found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction based on convincing evidence of wrongdoing. He insults the judiciary by implying that his conviction was wrongly derived.
“Mr. George seeks to imbue me with more power than I could possibly have. I am flattered but in all humility I must protest the false assessment. If he can remember, the government of the day was that of the PDP. I have never had nor sought much influence in those circles. He was charged by the government ruled by his own party for an offence concerning financial irregularities at the Nigeria Port Authority, NPA, an appointment he received from that same government. It is an incredible tale indeed to state that somehow I could direct a party that tried to dismantle the progressive political structure of my party to bring down one of its key members.
The more plausible explanation for his legal tribulation was that a member of his own cabal blew the whistle on Mr. George’s antics for reasons that only he and that person truly know. The rest is now history.
I believe he was convicted of “ Invoice Splitting” a violation of financial regulations. This malpractice is a deliberate circumvention of the law so that the culprit may approval expenditures above his mandated authority to do so and without proper oversight.
In the end, it was Mr. George’s own hand and actions that led to his incarceration more than anything I could ever have done.
Mr. George claims the alleged apology was made at the burial of Chief Alao Arisekola. On that date, personalities such as Oba Otudeko and Governor Ajimobi approached me because I did not greet Mr. George initially. They pleaded that, in the memory of the man we were all gathered to honour, I should greet Mr. George. At their request, I turned back and came to greet him by saying “Good Afternoon Egbon”. That was all.
“If Mr. George wishes to interpret that as an apology, he has the right to do so. I also have the right to state categorically that no apology was made or even intended.
“I think he is trying to find a way to walk back from his election hyperbole that he would go on exile if the APC won the Lagos State governorship election. He realizes that Lagos under the APC is a very good place to live after all. If he wants to remain in Lagos, he does not have to manufacture an excuse or explain away his bad words. Neither the APC nor I have any aims against him. In the election, the people rejected his party and his brand of politics. That is enough for us. We move on to greater progress. We have no time or inclination to trouble ourselves by troubling Bode George. Any trouble he is experiencing is a product of his own mind,” Tinubu added.