MRS. Mayowa Ikuforiji is the wife of the Speaker of the Lagos House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji who was recently acquitted of all charges against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In this interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, she disclosed the pain she went through during the three-year trial period on reading about the news on social media and her belief of victory which later came to pass. The good-natured woman says she holds no one responsible and bears no grudges against anyone concerning the issue.
We want to congratulate you on the acquittal of your husband by the court?
Were you in court on that day?
No, I was not. I only went to court once. My own duty is not to appear during court sessions. My duty as a wife is to pray. That was what I kept doing for him.
How did you hear the news then?
Of course, he called me.
You were probably the first person he called.
I am sure I was the first person he called.
What was your immediate reaction when he told you he has been acquitted?
I only screamed and I was thanking God. I jumped up and I …
Where were you then, home or office?
I was at home. I was getting ready to come to the office. The acquittal happened around 11.00 a.m, I was waiting to hear from him. I was already dressed, almost entering my car when he called me. But I was also monitoring everything. I was calling the people in court to know what was going on. So, I was virtually there in spirit. Although someone had called me before him but I couldn’t hear him because the noise was too much. Immediately I heard the noise, I knew that something awesome had happened. So, when he now called me, I said, God is great.
Did you continue with your journey to the office or what did you do next?
I couldn’t come to the office on that day because so many people, even the people on our street, started coming in. People just started coming in from everywhere. I was surprised.
Did you envisage it will turn out like this?
As a Christian, I have been praying and I know that God will not disappoint me. I was very sure that the God I serve will not disappoint me. I was waiting for His time. Everybody was in a hurry but me, I was waiting for His time. The Bible says even though it tarries, wait for it, it will come. I kept on encouraging everybody, that don’t worry. That it is God’s time, this thing will come. I am sure by His grace it will work in our favour.
In essence, you already foresaw that it will turn out this way?
Not a question of foreseeing something. It’s a question of having faith in God if you are a Christian. I didn’t foresee, I only knew that the God that I serve will not put me to shame. I was sure about that. It is the faith that no matter how long it takes, the God I serve will vindicate me and will not put me to shame.
As a human being, I will feel discouraged but because of the faith I have, every time I feel discouraged, I just tell God this is the work of the devil. Don’t be discouraged, it will happen at God’s time. It happened and I waited.
In your press statement after the judgement, you mentioned that you went through some embarrassment because of the case. Did this happen to you personally?
No, it did not happen to me personally. But when I open the internet the things I see on the internet…You see, most people didn’t even know the charges. Everybody just have this belief that once you have a case with EFCC, that means you are a thief. I was disappointed in our youths up to a point, that they couldn’t ask questions. They didn’t want to really find out the charges for them to be able to know what to say. Politicians, everybody saying all sorts. There was a time I actually went off Facebook. I closed my account on Facebook.
Did you at anytime respond to some of the things that were being said on Facebook?
No, I was just reading. I couldn’t have reacted because whatever I say they will say, you are his wife now, what do you expect? Nobody was ready to really read through the charges. Nobody was ready to listen to members of House of Assembly saying that they passed a vote of confidence (on the Speaker). Nobody heard that.
Because a case is in the court it simply means once you are a politician and you have a case with EFCC, it simply means you have stolen money. That is the way people saw it. I now wondered.
In Nigeria, we should ask questions. Not just believe what people just say and take it hook, line and sinker. We should ask questions. Is it true what they are saying? Let me find out. Even public officers too because they have given us this bad reputation that politicians are bad most of the time, it is not true.
When I read some things sometimes I begin to ask myself when did this happen? Could this have happened to me I will not know? It could be very funny. But I have developed a thick skin.
But you should have responded to some of those write-ups through the press officers of your husband?
I am not a politician.
But you are the wife of a politician?
Yes, I am the wife of a politician. But sometimes, it is good to be silent. Some people will say silence means consent. Not at all times. Sometimes, you just keep silent and let it pass. In trying to answer at times, you begin to stir the hornet’s nest. But sometimes when you keep silent in face of all accusations, things get calm later. There was a period they wrote something about my daughter. My daughter said she was going to do something. My husband said leave them, you are still going to read many more stories. How many are you going to react to? Just develop a thick skin and forget about it. That was what happened to my children.
Were the children also around during their father’s acquittal in court?
Only two of them were around but they were not in court. One is doing her youth service so she was in her office and the other one was still home. She is going to university. They were all happy.
Did you suffer any personal harassment because of your husband’s case in court?
No, I never had anybody coming to me personally to do something like that. Nobody will do that. The circle I move in, I don’t think they can really see me and say that. The people I am close to know me, they know my family. They knew us even before politics. They know that mostly these things they are saying is not true. They know. So, there was no reason for anybody to attack me. I was moved by what people are writing on Facebook. Anyone can be online now and they use that to write nonsense. Whatever I read now, I just laugh. If I can pass through the three years, then I can pass through anything.
There is nothing anybody can write again that can move me because I know myself, I know my husband. So, what can you write that will now move me? You can’t know me more than I know myself.
First, it was N7.2 billion, later it became N500 million. All the while, did you know it was a frame up?
I have always known it was framed up.
Your husband told you so?
He didn’t need to tell me. I know him. There was no way he could just spend money that does not belong to him. They were saying stealing, it wasn’t that. That was the premises that I stood. They didn’t say he stole. Why are people now saying so? I know that there will always be light at the end of the day.
There was also the rumour that members of your husband’s party were behind this trumped up charges. Did you suspect anybody?
No. I didn’t suspect anybody. You see people talk too much. They will just say something. On what premises are they standing to say it was from his political party?
The impression then was that those who did not want him to contest for the governorship ticket were behind these allegations?
If God wants you to be somewhere you will definitely get there. It is God that make things real. I have always said that where we are today, it was God. Someone who was gracious to us, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was the one that God used. God used him for us. I never imagined that it would be possible for someone to be Speaker three times. That was the handiwork of God, it wasn’t our work. So, wherever God is taking you, I believe as a Christian, that God will lead you there. No matter the fight, no matter the war, if it has been ordained by Him and you pray about it, you will get there.
Really, there is no gain where there is no pain. There must always be a story behind the glory. It will always be there. If you just start the glory like that with a story, you wouldn’t appreciate it. But if your glory is coming and you have a story, you’ll now be able to glorify God now. See what I passed through.
I am not going to accuse anybody. God knows who did it. It is only God that can reveal him. We don’t know and we are not going to start accusing people. The EFCC did not tell us this is the person. So, we cannot be making conjectures and pointing accusing fingers at people. It will not be right. We really didn’t know who did it. God knows the person.
Along the line when the case was going on did it ever occur to you to advice your husband to quit politics?
Such things also happen to people who are not politicians too. Things you don’t prepare for that might happen to you in life are many. In life, so many things happen to you to make you have more faith in God and to make you stronger. You can’t go through life without any obstacle or challenge. This thing even brought us closer to God. Maybe that is what God wanted us to do. To be closer to Him more than we were. Sometimes when people don’t have any problem they tend to forget God. It’s only when God likes that He will make you pass through trial. But He is still going to bring you out at the end of the day.
Look at what happened to Job. If God is testing you, it means that God is sure that you are His child, that you can go through a test. The Bible says whatever has a beginning will have an end. I know that it will end one day. Even if it didn’t end that day, it will certainly end. If it was adjourned till after the primaries, if God has ordained it is going to be in our favour, it will still sure be. Even if somebody succeeded in doing it, God allowed it to happen for a purpose.
Were you not afraid that if he had not been acquitted by the court, it could affect his chances in the governorship primaries of his party?
It was an accusation. He has not been found guilty. Why should people assume that he would be guilty and because of that deny him the things that he wants? I wouldn’t think that will be nice. If God says yes or no, nobody can change God’s stance. May be, I wouldn’t know but I thank God that it ended the way it ended.