Mrs. Izehiokhon-Codo Bukola Doris
Mr. Jean Codo, who was a former two term Minister of Tourism of Benin Republic during the time of President Mathew Kerekou, a certified Maritime Inspector and Chief Executive of Transport and Ports Management System (TPMS) came to Nigeria to introduce a scheme called Cargo Tracking Note to the Nigerian government in 2007.
This is a scheme that would allow the government to monitor all vessels, have firsthand and authentic information as regards cargoes coming into Nigeria, curb under declaration according to the standard of ISPS Code of the maritime organization and also generate lots of revenue to the government yearly.
Mr Jean Codo went through all necessary due process and got a Federal Executive Council Approval of government of Nigeria in 2009 to implement the scheme through the Nigeria Port Authority. This was followed by a duly executed agreement between NPA on behalf of Federal Republic of Nigeria and Jean Codo’s Company.
The implementation started in 2010. However, Mr. Jean Codo did not find the implementation easy as he encountered lots of challenges in the hands of the Many cabals in Nigeria who kicked against the scheme knowing fully well that it would expose their shady deals at the port and their under declaration to the government.
The news of the scheme and the furore it was causing then got to the former Minister of Finance (Dr. Ngozi Okwonjo Iweala) who misunderstood the scheme and abolished the cargo Tracking Note in 2011 in breach of the agreement between the government and Codo’s Company which led to an Arbitration proceeding filed by Chief Bolaji Ayorinde SAN on behalf of Mr. Codo’s Company for claim of damages for breach of contract against the Government.
Notwithstanding, Mr. Jean Codo did not allow this to discourage his dream of implementing this helpful scheme which he extended to other African Port. And after the end of Administration of President Jonathan and the Federal Government of Nigeria reintroduced cargo tracking note in 2015
when the scheme was again reinstated under the Administration of President Mohammed Buhari, and this time, to be implemented through Nigerian Shipper’s council Mr. Codo Company TPMS Nigeria was again engaged to manage the scheme.
The scheme kicked off early 2015 and within a short period of time before the cabinet of President Mohammed Buhari was constituted, the scheme generated over 3 million dollars to the TSA of Government. But as usual, the Cabals came up with their antagonistic nature again because of their under declaration it was already curbing, and this time around, the challenges became stronger as some cabals who wishes to have the scheme for their personal interest to enrich themselves and not the Federal Government, decided to come up with series of strategies that would make them hijack the scheme from Mr. Jean Codo.
The scheme was therefore again suspended by the current Minister of Transport, based on a sponsored petition of Antaser Afrique the former agent of Jean Codo between 2010 and 2011 when the contract was terminated by the former Minister of Finance (Dr. Ngozi Okwonjo Iweala). The former Agent-petitioner claimed to have generated over €45 Million Euro to TPMS Nig Ltd while TPMS declared only €16 Million Euro to NPA but Jean Codo denied this claim.
That instead of treating the petition even if is true as breach of contract, the Minister for Transport forwarded the petition and the exculpating report of the Nigerian Port Authority to EFCC for investigation.
Mr. Jean Codo was invited and he gave his own part of the story. He explained to EFCC investigators that the petition was a false allegation being used by his oppressor to get him out of the way and that there is an on going Arbitration proceedings in which NPA has counter claimed for the amount it believed is due to the government from the CTN operation between 2010and 2011. The investigation Team refused to see his side of the story and kept digging and fishing for evidence to incriminating him.
He was granted bail by EFCC with undertaking to report regularly to the EFCC in person until the matter is determined. To the knowledge of the EFCC officials he travelled to France to have a bone marrow surgery done after being diagnosed of Bone Marrow disease which was shortening his blood.
Two days to when he was to have the surgery performed, on the 13th December 2019, he was called by one of the investigating officers name withheld for now) that the Chairman of EFCC has approved his no case to answer and to report immediately to the office of the EFCC at 15A, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi to sign necessary papers which he obliged so as to fly back to Paris for his surgery.
Upon his arrival in Nigeria, he was shocked to discover that he was to be charged to court for diversion of Federal government money. He explained his critical health condition to the officers in EFCC and pleaded that he be allowed to go get his surgery done. However, his plea was not heeded and on the 19th of December, 2019 he was charged before Honourable Justice M. Dada of the Special Offences Court at Ikeja, Lagos State.
His initial application for bail was refused by the a Judge and he was remanded in Ikoyi Correctional Centre (Ikoyi Prison) pending the determination of the case. But when another application for bail was brought before the same Judge, she granted bail in the sum of #100m and two sureties in like sum. The sureties are to be landed property owners valued #100 Million each and have bank account with not less than #100 Million which a lien shall be placed.
When it was difficult to meet the conditions for the bail, his lawyers approached the judge for variation which the judge granted and amount of bail was set at #25 Million each for the sureties. Meanwhile with his health condition Jean Codo remained in the Clinic of Ikoyi Correctional Centre (Ikoyi Prison) pending the perfection of the bail conditions.
While Jean Codo was in custody and the bail was being perfected, there came Covid-19 pandemic and the short down of all offices including the court. It therefore became impossible to perfect the bail conditions. When his lawyers Chief Bolaji Ayorinde SAN and Lawal Pedro, SAN saw that his condition has worsened they appealed to the Chief Judge and the presiding Judge for his interim release so as to be able to attend to his health and to complete the perfection of the bail conditions after the lockdown is lifted since the sureties have submitted their bank statements of #25 Million each and title documents of property valued over #100 Million each. Unfortunately their appeal was not approved before Jean Codo died on 20th May 2020
When in custody Jean Codo received over 45 pints of blood and the prison medical doctor came on alternate days to attend to him amongst others, and on the day of his death, the evening of 20th May, 2020 he was to receive four pints of blood. He had taken one and was on the second one when he was said to have collapsed and was being rushed to the Police Hospital, Ikoyi when he gave up the ghost.
We believe that the Nigeria government was responsible for the death of Jean Codo indirectly or by negligence. If the EFCC who earlier admitted him to bail which he never breached did not oppose his application for bail in court, the judge would have granted bail on liberal conditions and he would have been released from custody earlier to go his bone marrow transplant surgery and safe his life to face his trial to prove his innocence.
Perhaps If he was given adequate and proper medicare at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre, he may not have died. He needed not to have been at the point of death before he was rushed to outside hospital for proper medical attention, he may still have been alive if the officials were more proactive to their job and the need to preserve his life for his trial
More so, if the appeals of his lawyers for his interim release during the Covid-19 lockdown was speedily acceded to by the Judge who knows fully well that it is only a living person that can be tried and the punishment for the alleged offence is not death, Jean Codo could have been released to attend to his health and be alive for his trial.
His death is rather an unfortunate one. So many ‘ifs’ If only this, if only that, he may still be alive. Mr. Jean Codo was a very lovable gentleman, hardworking and man who never gave up on his dream no matter the challenges. He is indeed a fighter against the oppressors in and out of Nigeria government.
I pray that Mr. Jean Codo gets adequate justice for his untimely death if not from government of Nigeria from Almighty God against all those responsible.
Mrs Izehiokhon-Codo Bukola Doris