Government StudiesHistoryPolitical History

Coker Commission of Inquiry: Why Awolowo was Found Guilty of Corruption in 1962

Obafemi Awolowo
Obafemi Awolowo, First Premier of Western Region

Coker Commission of Inquiry was set up in 1962 during the political crisis in the Western Region of Nigeria. George Baptist Ayodola Coker was appointed by Moses Majekodunmi, the sole administrator of the Western Region, to chair the commission of inquiry into the affairs of the Region’s six statutory corporations since October 1st 1964.

As at 1962, the crisis between Awolowo and Akintola in the regional ruling party, Action Group, had escalated into unprecedented mayhem in the region. People and properties were set ablaze by political thugs. This crisis was named “Operation Wetie”. Read the full details here.

Obafemi Awolowo, the first premier of the Western Region, was found guilty of corruption by the Coker Commission in 1962. Back in 1954, the Western Region Marketing Board had N6.2 million. By May 1962, it had to exist on overdrafts amounting to over N2.5 million. A loan of N6.7 million was made to the National Investment and Properties Co., Ltd. for building projects out of which only N500,000 was ever re-paid.

The Western Region Finance Corporation and the West Nigeria Development Corporation also received loans of millions of pounds, which were never repaid. The Coker Commission found Awolowo responsible for the all the ills of the Western Region Marketing Board, and Awolowo “without a doubt has failed to adhere to the standards of conduct which are required for persons holding such a post.”

Coker Commission of Inquiry

This report, published on 31 December 1962, also absolved Samuel Ladoke Akintola. However, the Coker commission was viewed by some set of people as an instrument to “discredit the Awolowo faction of the Action Group”.

George Baptist Ayodola Coker

George Baptist Ayodola Coker was a former Judge of the Nigerian Supreme Court from 1964 till 1975. He authored two books: Family Property among the Yorubas and a lectures series on Freedom and Justice.

He attended Olowogbowo Wesleyan Primary School, Lagos, from 1924 to 1928 and he then Methodist Boys High School, Lagos, from 1929 to 1931. He finished his secondary education as one of the foundational students of Igbobi College. Thereafter, he worked briefly as a civil servant and later as a teacher.

References:

  • Operation Wetie And The 1962 Action Group Crises: How Power Tussle Between Awolowo And Akintola Plunged Western Region Into Crises. Teslim Opemipo Omipidan; OldNaija.com
  • Ogundere, J. D. (1994). The Nigerian judge and his court. Ibadan, University Press.
Cite this article as: Teslim Omipidan. (March 27, 2020). Coker Commission of Inquiry: Why Awolowo was Found Guilty of Corruption in 1962. OldNaija. Retrieved from https://oldnaija.com/2020/03/27/coker-commission-of-inquiry-why-awolowo-was-found-guilty-of-corruption-in-1962/

One Comment

  1. While it is compelling to understand the premise upon which justice A Coker came up with his conviction of Awolowo, it is worthy of note that the Late sage was not given a fair trial by the then government of the country. Is like convicting Buhari or Jonathan or Obasanjo for a depleted foreign reserve without a look at some of he expenditures and projects of the region.
    Over the same period in question Western Nigeria TV amongst other capital projects were implemented. Free education was launched in 1955. So it needs no rocket science to know that Pa Awolowo was a victim of political conspiracy.

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