Thewill Editorial: Now That Buhari Has Ordered Investigation Of Alleged Corrupt Allies
BEVERLY HILLS, December 20, (THEWILL) – It is a common knowledge that President Muhammadu Buhari's government rode to power on the crest of his Change mantra, with his promise to fight corruption playing a major role.
While the regime has so far demonstrated a semblance of anti-corruption drive by putting some past and serving government officials on trial, there have been concerns that only perceived enemies of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and members of the opposition are being hunted.
This is as several serving officials linked with corruption are sitting pretty in government, still calling the shots.
Incidentally, despite the evidence adduced against them, the presidency has all along, dismissed them as baseless and premeditated. The perceived inaction by the Federal Government has put concerned watchers at crossroads, wondering if the anti-corruption stance of the Buhari administration is just a fluke.
It is against this backdrop that THEWILL welcomes the decision by the Nigerian Senate to reject the confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, until the allegations of corruption against him are discharged.
The Senate had relied on a report by the Department of State Services, DSS, which indicted him of corrupt practices. According to the report, the embattled anti-graft chief had once been arrested, detained and suspended on corruption allegations by the Nigerian Police Force.
He was also accused of contracts scam, keeping sensitive EFCC documents in his private residence during the chairmanship of Farida Waziri, uncomfortably close to an alleged corrupt Abuja based businessman, who is being investigated by the DSS for graft and as well as hobnobbing with the Managing Director of a new generation bank, who was being investigated by the anti-graft agency.
Besides, several other government officials have been linked one way or another, to allegedly fraudulently using their positions to enrich themselves.
Among them are the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, David Babachir Lawal, the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, his counterpart in Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi and other top leaders in the ruling (APC), among others.
For instance, during their screening, petitions had flooded the Senate and the EFCC, against some former governors who the president had nominated into his cabinet. Among them were the former governors of Lagos and Rivers states, Babatunde Fashola and Rotimi Amaechi respectively, who their succeeding administrations had accused of corruption.
Despite the expectation that they, and many others, would be investigated and prosecuted, the presidency instead administered the oath of office on them.
However, it is gratifying that the case of Magu and Lawal have finally provoked the President to action.
Buhari, had through his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, directed the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami, to “Investigate the involvement of any government official accused of any wrongdoing,” with a promise that “If any of them is liable, they would not escape prosecution”.
THEWILL commends the bold step taken by the President and urge him not to be deterred by the antics of officials who may want to derail his administration. We urge the AGF to use graft-fighting agencies under him to go after all government officials alleged to be corrupt, including those whose cases are not yet in the public domain.
As a way of ensuring that no one is spared, we urge members of the public to volunteer information they may have concerning any serving or retired public official. We, nevertheless, caution that individuals and organisations should not abuse this opportunity by using it to settle scores.
Since an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, those alleged to be corrupt have the chance of clearing their names in court. But whoever is found guilty should not be spared, no matter his or her political affiliation. In the same vein, any one found to be innocent should be released. This is the only way to gain the confidence and buy in of members of the public in the anti-corruption fight.
Civil society groups and whistle blowers must capitalize on this opportunity to revisit all closed corruption cases, to save the nation from the wicked diversion of public resources. The allegations raised by suspended member of the House of Representatives, Abdulmumin Jibrin come to mind here.
It is sad that corruption has crept into all fabrics of the society and only a blanket investigation and prosecution of all alleged corruption cases could assure the nation and the world at large that the anti-graft fight of the present administration is not designed to settle political scores or excite the public.
As Nigerians await the report of these investigations, we demand a periodic briefing on the outcome and subsequent open arraignment of suspects, if cogent evidence are found against them. It is also important that corruption cases be given accelerated hearing to avoid unnecessary delays, as had been the case with the prosecution of high profile persons charged with corruption in the country.