When Will NCC DG, John Asein, Face Justice?
By Tony Okoroji
Why has the Nigerian nation practically been on fire in the last two weeks? Why did our country go through the wide protests of young Nigerians which has reverberated across the world?
A big propaganda machine has been unleashed to promote the falsehood that the honest expression of frustration by Nigerian youths across our nation was instigated and funded by politicians and by tribal or religious considerations. Tragic!
I joined the protest because I verily believe that the 2020 ENDSARS demonstration represents a historic moment in the development of our nation. I do not belong to any political party and nobody urged me to join the protest. Nobody gave me one naira and nobody can get me to participate in that which my spirit rejects. I was moved by the same frustration that moved hundreds of thousands of other Nigerians who want a better country.
If the ongoing propaganda holds sway and nothing changes, then we would have learnt nothing and gained nothing from the blood spilled by several of our youth and the huge losses suffered by our country. Our nation would simply have postponed the day of reckoning. Sad.
While we were begging and begging the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to speak to us and show an understanding of our frustration, a widely syndicated statement began to circulate that Dr Tonye Clinton Jaja, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) had been removed from office! I received many calls from people who know that I have openly complained about the nonsense that has been going on at the NCC, an organization that I have promoted over the years. Some people actually congratulated me, believing that the President had acted on our continued complaint. No!
I am a leader of an organization that has as members thousands of young and boisterous creative people. I promoted the setting up of the NCC to assist Nigerian creatives to fulfil their dreams, earn a decent livelihood, end the frustration in the land and boost the future of our country. There is no knowledgeable person who is being honest to himself who is not aware that the NCC has totally lost direction and become one of those government agencies where people go to work but do no work. The NCC has become a waste on national resources.
At this time last year, I had never met Dr. Tonye Clinton-Jaja. I had got completely frustrated with the bizarre activities at the NCC. I got Clinton-Jaja’s number and called him. We agreed to meet. At our meeting, he showed interest in listening to me and the issues we were raising on how his commission can do a better job.
In January 2020, I went to Abuja where I met Dr. Clinton Jaja, the third and last time I ever met him. I showed Dr Jaja a document with very detailed and disturbing information about the conduct of Mr. John Asein, his Director-General. After reading the document, Dr. Jaja was clearly very worried. He then placed a call inviting his DG to his office. In my presence, the document was handed over to Mr. Asein. As Mr. Asein read the document, I watched him. His hands were shaking. He was stammering. He presented no defence or explanation whatsoever for what he had been accused of. I told the DG how terribly disappointed I was with him and Dr. jaja assured me that he would get to the bottom of the matter.
Before then. I had seen John Asein as a brilliant Nigerian. When as a young officer at the NCC, he was sanctioned in a way I believed was unjust, I came fully to his defence. I travelled to Abuja several times at no cost to him to plead his case until the sanctions against him were lifted. When he was made the NCC DG, I celebrated. I even met with him in Abuja and wished him well.
After the meeting with his Chairman, Mr. Asein came to see me in my hotel room at Reiz Continental Abuja, on the evening of the same day. I did not see a man repentant or apologetic about what he had done. To me, his main concern was that he had been caught with his hands in the cookie jar. He did not want the information about him to become public. He asked what I could do to save him.
I have been informed that since that meeting, Mr. Asein has been openly boasting in Abuja that nobody can touch him despite the well-known acts of unmitigated corruption and abuse of office he is alleged to be embroiled in. I am told that he is telling anyone who cares to listen, to forget the rule of law as he has a “solid” godfather and connections that will ensure that nothing happens to him! If any human being thinks that his godfather or connection will protect him from the judgment that surely will come, he is drinking a bad liquid. Who is this almighty godfather that John Asein thinks puts him above the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria? What kind of connection is this that makes the crooked to survive and allows those who do good to go under?
So, at a time when the Nigerian nation is boiling with the frustration of our young people begging that we do things right, the man who is fighting corruption is said to have been removed and the man roundly accused of corruption by so many different people sits tight. It is bewildering!
In other words, to protect one man whose character is in serious question, our leaders are prepared to bury the future and career of thousands of young Nigerian creatives. This is the kind of situation that creates that frustration that boils over and leads the citizens to unfortunately take the laws into their hands.
Anybody who thinks that this matter is settled is not familiar with history. If the question is: when will John Asein face Justice, just remember that at the end of the day, none of us is untouchable. Only God Almighty reigns forever. And in those unforgettable words of Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, “the arc of the moral universe is long but it tends towards justice”