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Sad story of how former senior journalist, FRANCIS MUROKI, was tormented by his wife and reduced to a pauper.

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Francis Muroki walked into our offices carrying a huge portrait and clinging to it like his life depended on it. I was amused and curious at the same time. We exchanged pleasantries and settled down for the interview as he unwrapped and proudly spread the portrait on the table. It was a congratulatory message from Pope John Paul II, on Muroki’s wedding day in 1986. I was now more alert, as I sought for more details.

“The Pope’s congratulatory message was read by the presiding minister on our wedding day at the Holy Family Bascillica in Nairobi. Several priests, deacons, seminarians, bishops and archbishops co-celebrated the mass. My wife and I exchanged our golden wedding rings, which arrived from the Vatican, Rome, on the morning of the wedding along with the Pope’s message. We had a fabulous wedding and an enviable start of our marriage.

Severally, I had gone to Rome on official duty while working in the media and for the Catholic Church as an editor and writer of the various magazines owned by the Church. I had also met the Pope in person when he visited Kenya in 1997. The portrait is the only possession that survived the onslaught in my house that visited me later. Consequently, the vows I made that day have no meaning anymore.

Married life…

It was my day for double blessings when I got a job in 1985 in the editorial department of the then Kenya Times Media Trust in Nairobi. I also met and fell in love with a young girl working in the advertising department. We courted for a year and our love culminated with us walking down the aisle in 1986.

Our marriage was blessed with three children who arrived in quick succession. They were all born at the Nairobi Hospital. At the time, the hospital demanded early booking and deposit payment three months in advance for any woman who wished to deliver there. I wasn’t cowed since I wanted to give my family the best start in life. I also hired a highly qualified paediatrician to take care of my children, as they all had challenges at birth.

Our first child was born in 1987 had bouts of serious tonsillitis for the better part of his childhood. I recall frequenting hospitals and paying huge bills until he finally outgrew his condition. Our second child was born in 1988 after a very difficult pregnancy. We were so afraid that the baby would be born prematurely. Luckily, this wasn’t the case and the baby girl was born healthy.

And in 1990, our last child was born through a Caesarean section. After the Caesarean section, my wife developed a hernia – a very painful condition that cost a lot of money to treat. Her medical bills were so high that I overspent on my medical cover from my employer. I also took some time off work to care for her. As a result of spending too much time out of the office and claiming more than I should have on the medical cover, everything snowballed into a huge problem and I eventually lost my job at a time when I desperately needed it.

Putting family first… Thankfully, while I was employed I had bought land and built a beautiful permanent home in Nairobi’s Ongata Rongai area where we settled. Additionally, we were a prayerful family and went to church together. In deed, my wife and I held special duties in our local church and were members of the Marriage Encounter– a catholic group that trains and encourages couples on practical ways to good marriage. We then graduated to marriage counsellors, often helping many couples and couples-to-be. In addition, I was a writer on family issues in the Catholic publications and ran a column titled ‘The Family’ in one of the publications.

My priority was to give my children a good foundation and we enrolled them in good private schools in Meru, Molo and Kisumu. I was big about cars and often sent my wife to Dubai to buy and ship our personal cars and matatus, since we operated a fleet of matatus in Ongata Rongai area. This was also a chance to expose her to the world and broaden her knowledge. All the vehicles were registered in her name because I was a believer that in a marriage, there should be no division of property.

Onset of trouble…

Eventually in 2007, I left the mainstream media and had spells of being jobless. The financial situation got worse and progressively started affecting our marriage. Luckily by the end of 2007, I got a short-term contract with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) of training and reporting on the post-election violence.

By the time the contract ended, our children had completed their high school. Our firstborn enrolled at Strathmore University in 2008, the same year I also enrolled for an evening programe for a communications degree at the Daystar University. In 2009, our other two children enrolled at the Kenya Methodist University (KEMU) in Nairobi. Luckily, my wife who at the time had a steady job in the insurance industry, helped pay their school fees.

I struggled to complete my course at Daystar as well as look for a job. It wasn’t easy and my wife was getting jittery about my jobless status and failure to provide for my family. Sometimes it was embarrassing when my children asked me to buy them something but I could not afford it. With time they lost respect for me and my wife didn’t help matters, as she would put me down in their presence. She also changed her attitude towards me.

Alienated by family…

One night in 2010, I fell and hurt my knee near our home as I was coming from evening classes. My family was not bothered when I got into the house in bloodstained clothes. That was the painful beginning of my isolation.

Subsequently, I came home one evening in January 2011 and was held captive by my family. My son secured the front door with a chair and kept guard so that I couldn’t get out. My wife and children humiliated me for hours. They were spoiling for a fight. My eldest son openly challenged me to a physical fight, as he verbally abused me. It was a very painful experience.

After this incident, my wife hired transport and packed all our household items and walked out of our 24-year marriage taking along the children. A very sentimental item, a 29-inch TV media award that I won in 2004 and received in Bangkok, Thailand, wasn’t spared either. I was devastated and moved into a lodging in Ongata Rongai until it became financially untenable. I moved back into my empty home where I still live alone to this day.

I developed severe depression and have severally contemplated on drowning my sorrows in alcohol. On learning about my marriage break-up, my mother went into shock and collapsed. She never regained consciousness and died in hospital three weeks later, towards the end of April 2011. After her burial, I picked a few items from her house and returned to my house to start life afresh.

At 55, I am lonely and only left with memories of my now broken family. I am back to where I started as a young man, with nothing to my name. I have become a total stranger to my family as was evident in mid last year during my children’s graduation. I was not invited and only learnt about the gradation from family friends. The bible has been my best companion, adviser and consoler.

Don’t sit on your laurels… I thought I had done the best for my family but today am wiser. Even when you think you are comfortable and settled in your seemingly lasting marriage, don’t bask in your glory. I have since learnt that, just because your spouse is a Christian doesn’t mean they are saints. Now I know what it means to have and lose a family.

Opera News

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Malabu Oil Deal Fraud: Adoke Hit With Fresh 42-Count Charge

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The Federal Government, on Monday, filed fresh charges against former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke.

He is being charged with 42-count of alleged fraud in the $1.1 billion Malabu oil deal, alongside Rasky Gbinigie, A. Abubakar, Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Ultra Deep Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Limited.

According to the suit which was signed by Bala Sanga on behalf of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, one of the accused persons, Rasky Gbinigie conspired with Munamuna Seidougha (at large), Amaran Joseph (at large) and Dauzia Loya Etete (at large), sometime in 2013, in Abuja, dishonestly used as genuine the forged form CAC 7 and Board Resolution of Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and the letter of resignation of one Mohammed Sani to open a Bank Account No. 2018288005 with First Bank of Nigeria Plc to receive the sum of $401. 5 million.

The suit read further: “The accused persons committed an offence contrary to section 366 of the Penal Code and punishable under the same section of the Penal Code.

“That you, Mohammed Bello Adoke, being a public servant at the material time, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice of the Government of Nigeria, sometime in August 2013, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court was in possession and custody of the sum of N300m reasonably suspected to have been unlawfully obtained and thereby committed an offence an offence under section 319A of the Penal Code and punishable under the same section of the Penal Code.

“That you, Mohammed Bello Adoke, being a public servant at the material time, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice of the Government of Nigeria, sometime in 2013, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, accepted for yourself without consideration, the sum of N300m to broker the negotiation and signing of the Block 245 Resolution Agreement with Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited and thereby committed an offence under section 119 of the Penal Code and Punishable under the same section of the Penal Code.”

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Crime

Ex professor charged for allegedly blowing $200K grant on strippers, bars

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A former Philadelphia professor who allegedly blew grant money on strippers has now been charged with theft in connection to the nearly $200,000 used for adult entertainment and other personal expenses, prosecutors said.

Chikaodinaka Nwankpa — the one-time head of Drexel University’s electrical engineering department — was charged last week on felony counts of unlawful taking and theft by deception, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

The 57-year-old former professor allegedly abused grant money from the Navy, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation over a period of 10 years, prosecutors said.

He squandered around $96,000 in federal grant funds at adult entertainment venues and sports bars between 2010 and 2017, officials allege. He also blew threw another $89,000 on iTunes purchases and meals.

The university revealed the alleged fraud last October, claiming it had only discovered the spending spree during a 2017 audit.

Nwankpa allegedly admitted to the unauthorized expenses when confronted by school officials and resigned from the college. He also gave around $53,00 to the university, which paid $189,000 to resolve potential civil liability in the case.

He was arrested by university police last week and released on $25,000 bail. If convicted, he faces up to 14 years in prison.

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Kwara Matters

EFCC Forfieture: Saraki Urges Court To Vacate Order

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Former Senate President and two-term Kwara State Governor, Dr Bukola Saraki, has urged the Federal High Court in Lagos to dismiss a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) praying for the permanent forfeiture of his Ilorin houses.

Saraki described the suit as an abuse of court processes and a move to scandalise him.

He argued that it was a ploy by the EFCC to review the July 6, 2018 decision of the Supreme Court “discharging the applicant from culpability arising from the same money and houses which are the subject matter of this action.”

The EFCC had, in the suit filed before Justice Rilwan Aikawa, claimed that the houses – Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State – were acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities allegedly perpetrated by Saraki, while he was Kwara State Governor between 2003 and 2011.

Justice Aikawa had on December 2, 2019 ordered the temporary forfeiture of the houses to the Federal Government.

The judge adjourned for Saraki to appear before him to give reasons the houses should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

In response, Saraki, through his lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), filed a preliminary objection, challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.

Ogunwumiju said that the new suit by the EFCC was an abuse of court processes because it was filed at a time when a suit on the same subject matter was still pending at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

According to him, in the Abuja suit, Justice Taiwo Taiwo had on May 14, 2019 made an order for parties to stay action on the subject matter pending the determination of an originating motion on notice.

“Despite the pendency of the above-captioned suit, service of the originating processes and the subsistence of the aforesaid order of this court, the respondent surreptitiously commenced Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1867/2019 between the EFCC v Dr Bukola Saraki on 14th October 2019 in this court where it seeks orders aimed at neutralising the order of the Abuja Division of this court,” he said.

The ex-Kwara governor said that the new EFCC’s suit was meant to “irritate, annoy and scandalise” him and urged Justice Aikawa to dismiss it.

The judge, on Tuesday, adjourned the matter till February 5 to take arguments on Saraki’s objection.

The EFCC, in the suit, told the court that it received “a damning intelligence report, showing monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011,” when Saraki was the governor of the state.

An operative of the EFCC, Olamide Sadiq said, “Whilst investigation was ongoing several fraudulent transactions were discovered.

“I know for a fact and verily believe that our investigation has revealed the following mind-boggling findings, among others:

“That between 2003 and 2011, Dr Olubukola Abubakar Saraki was the Executive Governor of Kwara State.

“That whilst he held the aforementioned position, the common pattern was that after payment of monthly allocation by the Federal Government to the Kwara State Government, a cumulative sum of not less than N100m will be deposited into the Kwara Government House account.

“That upon the payment of the said N100m, same will, in turn, be withdrawn in cash by one Mr Afeez Yusuf from the Kwara State Government House, Ilorin’s account in bits and brought to the Government House.”

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