Embattled South African President Jacob Zuma was honoured on Saturday with a giant statue, a road named after him, a chieftaincy title and an award during a visit to Nigeria’s southeast state of Imo, sparking a lot of outrage.
The Governor of Imo State Rochas Okorocha has come under a lot of attack for honouring Zuma who is facing multiple charges of corruption after surviving multiple impeachment processes in his country.
The unveiling was done in the state capital Owerri during a ceremony attended by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former governors, chiefs and distinguished members of the state.
A civil society group against corruption condemned the governor for the gesture which they described as embarrassing in the face of the corruption allegations against Zuma.
“It is embarrassing that a state government controlled by the All Progressives Congress which is fighting corruption could play host to Mr. Zuma, allegedly a corrupt leader in the current assembly of heads of state in the African Union and portray him as a hero before a group of African youth,” said Lanre Suraj, the chairman of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption.
“Is Governor Okorocha not aware that Mr. Zuma has been found guilty of corruption by the courts in South Africa and has been ordered to refund the $500,000 stolen from the public treasury to expand his private house to accommodate his many wives?” he added in a statement.
The group said it expected the federal government to call the governor to order. They demanded an apology from Okorocha for “promoting President Zuma who has been adjudged to be a corrupt leader by the South African judiciary”.
South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday upheld a High Court ruling to reinstate nearly 800 corruption charges filed against Jacob Zuma before he became president.
75-year-old Zuma has faced persistent corruption allegations, most recently over leaked emails that suggest his friends the Gupta family may have used their influence to secure lucrative state contracts for their companies.
The honour of Zuma in Nigeria was also condemned by a cross-section of Nigerians including the opposition and former government officials.