The Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has once again been let down by another of his appointees for committing a serious crime in less than 2 years of his administration in the Gateway State. With the latest one being his Senior Special Assistant (SSA), Balogun Abidemi Rufai, who was arrested in the United States of America (U.S.A.) on Friday, 14th May, 2021, for a crime bordering on Wire Fraud, it has brought the number of Aides once appointed by the Governor, and later faced with accusations of different serious crimes to 3, as at the last count.
Otherwise referred to as Ruffy, the 42 year old SSA to the Governor was reported to have been picked up at JFK Airport in New York, on his way back to Nigeria, and has since been charged with Wire Fraud for his scheme to steal over $350,000 (Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars) in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department, as announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Ruffy was said to have made his initial appearance in Court on Saturday, 15th May, 2021, in New York, and he is scheduled for a detention hearing on Wednesday, 19th May, 2021
If convicted of the crime, the SSA to Governor Abiodun who was appointed in 2020, risks about 30 years imprisonment as Wire Fraud is punishable by up to 30 years in prison when it relates to benefits paid in connection with a presidentially-declared disaster or emergency, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. In order words, to use Nigerian parlance, Ruffy has been picked up as a “Yahoo Boy”. And it would be recalled that during the Coronavirus pandemic imposed lockdown in many countries around the world, “Yahoo Boys” in Nigeria were said to be “cashing out” on Benefit Money from countries which were responsible enough to make adequate financial provisions for their citizenry to survive. So sad.
Meanwhile, beyond Ruffy, the Aide that first let Governor Abiodun down was his one time Senior Special Adviser (SSA) on Education, Professor Sidikat Osho, who was later elevated to the position of Commissioner For Education in the State. The appointment of the Professor to the position of Commissioner in 2020, was faced with a petition from some concerned quarters in the State who stated that Professor Osho was reportedly dismissed by the Ogun State-owned Olabisi Onabanjo University (O.O.U.) for a crime bordering on allegations of financial misappropriation of a Bakery Project, which she superintended over, and absconding from service for about four years.
A copy of her purported letter of dismissal that was published online then read: ” In considering the recommendations before it, Council viewed your actions as unethical and gross misconduct which is contrary to University Rules and Requlations and the condition stated out in your letter of appointment. Council, therefore, in line with the earlier recommendations of the Staff Professional Ethics and Discipline Committee (SPEDC) and in accordance with the extant Code of Conduct approved that you should be dismissed from the service of the University with effect from March 8, 2016.”
Though, based on the exposed letter and strong opposition from concerned indegenes of Ogun State, and Nigerian students from different levels of their association, Professor Osho, was not sworn-in as a substantive Commissioner after her nomination and approval by the State Assembly had been done. But it is, however, on record that she served as an SSA on Education to the Governor.
The third Appointee or Aide to let the Governor down was his Commissioner for Environment, Abiodun Abdul-Balogun who was accused of attempted rape. A 16 year old secodary school student, Barakat Melojuekun, accused him of attempting to rape her in his residence on December 31st, 2020. She alleged that the then Commissioner fondled her breasts while reciting incantations, apparently, to scare her. She also said her scream forced him to jump off her and offered her #2,000.00 (Two Thousand Naira) to shut up.
She added that, they came in contact when Abdul-Balogun offered her a lift, lobbied to get her telephone number, and promised to get her a job as a computer operator. But rather, than getting her the job, she claimed she was molested. She said she reported the case to her parents who escalated it to the police. And when the police reportedly invited the then Commissioner on January 1st, 2021, to Abigi Police Station for interrogation, the only defence he was said to have put up was that he was being set up by his political opponents.
Meanwhile, when the matter was exposed in the media by Press Men, the State Government did not have any other option than to suspend him pending his investigation. But he was later said to have secretly resigned his appointment as a Commissioner and also succeeded in coercing the girls family into withdrawing the case from the police.
But by and large, Governor Abiodun should endeavour to carry out background checks on his future Appointees and Aides so as to prevent further embarrassments to his government in the future.