The War Against Corruption Has Been Discredited – Odinkalu

A former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, says the war against corruption, is no longer on course.

He said this on Tuesday during his appearance on Channels Forum, the initiative by Channels Television which brings opinion leaders and policymakers together to discuss and find solutions to Nigeria’s problems.

According to Professor Odinkalu, the war lost its credibility because there are questions about the Federal Government’s sincerity in the fight.

The government has been criticised over time for allegedly failing to prosecute people it had ties to and for targeting opposition figures.
Professor Odinkalu believes the criticism has its merits.

Asked if he thinks the war against corruption is on course, the human rights activist responded quickly with a ‘No’.

He said, “I think quite honestly, it’s been discredited. And I will give you an example just to illustrate it. The Minister of Information goes on record to release a “looters” list. And who are the looters? All of them are undergoing trial.

“If you are going to put out a list of looters, all of whom are undergoing trial, then just do that for everybody. So, you have to include in that list somebody like Orji Uzo Kalu who is now a close confidante of the President and who is now undergoing trial for allegedly looting Abia State.”

Other cases he believes tarnished the anti-corruption war include that of the former pensions boss, Mr Abdulrasheed Maina, who was reabsorbed into the Federal Civil Services after being dismissed under the Goodluck Jonathan administration and declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

He also faulted the failure of the government to prosecute the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir David Lawal, who was dismissed after being indicted for corruption and an investigative committee led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

“Now, the question people are going to ask is, ‘where is Babachir David?’ ‘Where is Maina?’ ‘Where are the folks who are operating snake farms and buying property in Dubai?’

“When you don’t find those people in court and when tales are being told about people who have been in court for yonks and nothing has happened to them, then you’ve got a credibility crisis with your ‘fighting corruption’. And when you do that, your entire ethical narrative for governance collapses.”

When asked why he felt those mentioned should be on trial, Professor Odinkalu said, “If the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has been investigated by the vice president, the national security adviser and the attorney-general of the federation on the basis of which the President has fired him and you are telling me that that is not authoritative enough to send him to court, there is a problem.”

As far as the human rights activist is concerned, “something as significant, as important as fighting corruption cannot be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency”.

“This, really, I think is the problem that people have got with what is said to be fighting corruption. You’ve got to fight it without regard to the political camps people belong,” he added.

Senate Fears ‘Non-payment’ Of Judges For Four Months Is A ‘Disturbing Signal’

Senate Seeks Resignation Of Babachir LawalThe Nigerian Senate has launched an investigation into an alleged non-payment of federal judges for four months, a development the upper chamber described as a ‘disturbing signal’.

A member of the Senate who is also the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn N’allah, raised the issue during plenary on Tuesday, asking the Senate to wade into the non-payment of the salaries the judges in the last four months.

Raising a point of order at plenary, Senator Ibn N’allah requested that the Senate Committee on Judiciary should investigate the ing it as “a disturbing signal”, coming at a time that the current administration had extended its fight against corruption to the judiciary.

After the lawmaker hinted the Senate, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary in the absence of Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, also finds the situation very worrisome.

He said the reason judges were placed on first-line-charge was to avoid a situation where they could be tempted and enticed.

The matter has been referred to the committee on judiciary with a mandate to ensure that the judges are paid on or before Monday.

This is coming at a time that the current administration had extended its fight against corruption to the judiciary, with a federal judge facing graft related charges.

U.S. Tasks Religious Leaders On Corruption Fight In Nigeria

shaarik-zafarThe American Government has called on religious leaders in Nigeria to pay close attention to the critical challenge of combating corruption.

The U.S. restated its commitment to helping Nigeria eradicate corruption in all sectors of the country.

The U.S. Special Representative to Muslim Communities, Shaarik Zafar, made the call on Monday at a press conference in Kano State, northwest Nigeria.

“Religious leaders speak a common language with their communities and have incomparable access, unique network and respect that would enhance the common fight against corruption and promote accountability,” he pointed out.

The U.S. envoy further highlighted that the use of religious leaders to fight corruption was not a last resort, but perhaps a more thoughtful resolve to promoting economic growth and opportunity.

He added that the resolve would also help maintain peace and security while protecting the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.

Mr Zafar observed that most Muslim communities around the world were faced with numerous crisis ranging from war and conflict, violent extremism and sectarianism as well as poverty and lack of educational opportunities.

He said although the US had a global mandate to discourage corruption, they hope to fight corruption with the help of Nigerians.

Change Mantra: Buhari Is Not Slow, Says VON Boss

Osita-Okechukwu-Buhari-VONThe Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu, has called for patience among the citizens as President Muhammadu Buhari leads the change campaign to transform Nigeria.

The VON boss told Channels Television on Thursday that the President was trying to follow the rule of the law to drive his administration.

He made the appeal during an interview where he explained the motive behind the recently launched national orientation programme, ‘Change Begins With Me’.

“If you have to follow the rule, it will be as if you are slow.

“President Muhammadu Buhari is not slow, (but) it is about following the rule of the law.

“We are saying in the fullness of time, the Nigerian people will come to realise what we are doing because transparency is on the door step,” he said.

A Better Result

Mr Okechukwu stated further that President Buhari was not biased in his war against corruption.

He expressed optimism that the present administration’s corruption fight would earn Nigeria a better result and called on Nigerians to support the campaign.

“The corruption fight is not one sided. Nobody could have probed Osita Okechukwu in Voice Of Nigeria, but you can now probe me.

“We are saying in the next few years, the money we’ll save will make better result than the big money we got in the past and wasted.

“We are saying please, we need citizens’ participation because if the citizens are not involved, we are wasting our time,” he said.

President Buhari had on Thursday, September 8, launched a new national orientation programme, Change Begins With Me.

He said that it was to show his administration’s determination to carry all Nigerians along on the journey to a better and greater society that everybody can be proud of.

The President said that the programme was the best way to sustain the effort his administration had made in the fight against corruption.

Buhari, Soyinka Discuss National Matters

Wole-SoyinkaNobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, on Thursday held a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Professor Soyinka arrived at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital at about 11:00am local time and went straight to the President’s office.

Addressing reporters after the meeting, he said he had come to see the President on some national, international and general matters.

When asked further questions, he promised to hold a press conference in few days.

“Right now, please, I will like to get away,” he told reporters when they asked further questions.

The literary icon had last month voiced his support for President Buhari’s fight against corruption, with a call for the imprisonment of corrupt politicians to serve as deterrent to others.

Professor Soyinka made the call while addressing reporters after the presentation of certificates and trophies to winners of the 7th edition of Wole Soyinka International Cultural Exchange Programme, held in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

He stated that the war against corruption should be more inclusive and that all other professionals should be part of the battle.

Buhari Urges World Bank To Hasten Return Of Stolen Funds

Muhammadu Buhari and Sri Indrawati of the World Bank on Stolen FundsNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday urged the World Bank to do all within its powers to facilitate the speedy repatriation to Nigeria’s of stolen funds still being held by Swiss authorities.

At a meeting with the visiting Managing Director of the World Bank, Ms. Sri Indrawati, President Buhari said that the repatriation of the additional $320 million in Switzerland, which had been identified as illegally taken from Nigeria under the Abacha administration, would help to ease the nation’s current economic hardship.

The President assured Ms Indrawati that his administration was taking appropriate steps to ensure that public funds were no longer stolen or misappropriated by government officials.

“We need the support of the World Bank for the repatriation of the funds.

“We are as concerned as the World Bank about accountability. If such repatriated funds have been misapplied in the past, I assure you that the same will not happen with us.

“Three hundred and twenty million dollars is a lot of money and we will not allow it to be misappropriated or diverted,” President Buhari told Ms. Indrawati.

Muhammadu Buhari Sri Indrawati world Bank Director
Sri Indrawati assured President Muhammadu Buhari of the World Bank’s support in the fight against corruption

Swiss Authorities Conditions

One of the conditions given by the Swiss Authorities for the repatriation of the funds is that it should be expended on the implementation of social programmes for the benefit of the Nigerian people in an efficient and accountable way, guaranteed by the monitoring of the World Bank.

A statement by the President’s spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, said President Buhari also assured the World Bank Managing Director that his administration would honour all agreements with the Bank that would help to stimulate Nigeria’s economy and reduce the level of poverty.

He said that Nigeria would welcome greater international assistance for the rehabilitation of damaged homes, schools, health facilities and other infrastructure in the North Eastern states affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

Ms Indrawati told President Buhari that the World Bank was ready to use its knowledge, expertise and resources to help Nigeria achieve faster growth and development.

“We will strongly support you to create jobs and ensure prosperity in Nigeria,” the World Bank Managing Director assured President Buhari.

She also expressed the World Bank’s full support for the war against corruption being waged by the Buhari Administration.

FEC Approves Continuous Auditing To Control Expenditure

FECThe Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a presidential initiative on continuous audit, to strengthen controls of Federal government expenditures.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, made the decision known on Wednesday while briefing reporters on the outcome of the FEC meeting held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Mrs Adeosun said that the initiative would not just strengthen the internal audit of the payroll but general expenditures, which may include among others, contracts and pensions of Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) without notice.

She revealed that the government had commenced the second phase of the payroll of another potential 11,000 ghost workers.

This the Minister said was sequel to the first phase of the payroll audit which revealed the existence of 23,000 ghosts workers, which saved the country about 2.29 billion Naira.

Woman Donates Pension To Buhari’s War Against Corruption

BuhariA pensioner, Mrs Rose Julius, has donated her entire monthly pension of 10,000 Naira to support the Buhari administration’s war against corruption.

Mrs Julius, who retired as a cleaner from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, also promised to contribute 1,000 Naira monthly out of her pension towards the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons.

She said that she was making the donation because she was convinced that the President is a tested man of integrity, who can be trusted to restore the lost glory of Nigeria and drastically curb corruption in the country.

The pensioner also commended President Buhari’s efforts to end the Boko Haram insurgency and rehabilitate displaced persons.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, who received the donation on behalf of the President, thanked Mrs Julius for her faith in the Buhari administration.

“We have a pact with Nigerians to change things for the better and we are on the right track. President Buhari and his team are working tirelessly to revamp the economy, combat terrorism and curb corruption,” the President’s aide said.

Looters Of Our Common Wealth Must Be Prosecuted – Falana

Femi-FalanaA Lagos State lawyer and civil right activist, Femi Falana, has thrown his weight behind the ongoing probe into the two billion dollars arms deal that has thrown up a lot of names.

Mr Falana, however, believes that the dragnet should be extended to the $180 million Halliburton scandal which first came to light under former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He said that the same political will that was being applied to the arms deal was needed to see the Halliburton case to a logical conclusion.

He said that the political will was missing since 2007.

Mr Falana was speaking on Monday on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

“The war against corruption that is ongoing deserves the encouragement of Nigerians, particularly the victims of corruption our country – soldiers who were denied access to arms needed to address Boko Haram menace, those who could not access hospitals, young people who could not get jobs and other victims of corruption.

“We have to own the war, if we want to see restitution for all those who have stolen our common wealth and reduced our people to poverty-stricken nut.

“When there was not EFCC or ICPC, official corruption was fought in Nigeria by the media,” he said.

He said that the situation is totally different now, as the media were being accused of contributing immensely to the culture of corruption and impunity in our country.

“No government can defeat the menace of corruption unless Nigerians are prepared to say: “This is our battle”.

The lawyer also stressed the need for Nigerians to restore their ethical value and national morality.

“If a man has been accused of rigging an election, you don’t celebrate him,” he stressed, insisting that the press has to be critical.

Corruption War: We Will Respect Rule Of Law – Buhari

Buhari Reiterates Fighting Corruption According To LawPresident Muhammadu Buhari has reaffirmed that his administration will give full regard to due process and the rule of law in the prosecution of its war against corruption.

Speaking with a delegation from the Foursquare Gospel Church in Abuja on Monday, President Buhari restated his commitment to recovering stolen funds, but stressed that the present administration’s efforts in this regard would be fully within the ambit of the law.

“Under military rule, people could be arrested and held on the basis of suspicion, but in a true democracy, anyone accused of an offense must be presumed innocent till pronounced guilty by a court of law,” the President noted.

President Buhari said that his administration was therefore, diligently building up its case against those accused of stealing government funds, getting necessary evidence and facts, before formal charges were brought against them.

He congratulated the Foursquare Church in Nigeria on its 60th anniversary convention which was concluded on Sunday.

The General Overseer of the Foursquare Gospel Church, Reverend Felix Meduoye, lauded the Buhari administration for its positive strides in the war against corruption and insurgency.

He said that the church would continue to pray for the peace and prosperity of Nigeria.

Don’t Distract Us With Frivolous Complaint, Presidency Tells PDP

shehu-presidencyNigeria’s Presidency has advised the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to stop distracting the President with frivolous and unfounded allegations of selectivity in the war against corruption.

Reacting to an allegation of the opposition party, published by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Olisa Metuh, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said that contrary to the PDP’s allegations, President Buhari did not shield any All Progressives Congress (APC) government official from facing prosecution for corruption.

The President’s spokesman explained that since President Buhari resumed office, he had never told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) not to probe any APC Governor because they were party members.

‘Malicious And Unfounded’ 

According to Mr Shehu, it was convenient for the PDP to remember the cases of Sule Lamido, but it pretended not to notice the fact that former Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, who is an APC member, was also arrested and arraigned simultaneously.

The Presidency in the statement, asked Mr Metuh to produce any evidence or instance when President Buhari interfered in the activities of the EFCC by telling them who to prosecute and who to shield from prosecution.

President Buhari’s spokesman also described as ‘malicious and unfounded’ the allegation by Metuh that “funds from the Excess Crude Account are being depleted by the Buhari’s administration to allegedly pay back APC Governors that contributed to his presidential campaign”.

He advised Mr Metuh to either come forward with evidence, or apologise to Nigerians for willfully propagating falsehoods in order to gain cheap publicity or public sympathy.

The Media aide said it was the responsibility of the former PDP administration to prosecute APC and PDP Governors whose alleged cases of corruption were brought to its attention.

He said if the unseated PDP administration had facts against APC governors, it was within its powers to prosecute them.

Following the allegation that the Buhari administration was secretly planning to award oil refining licenses to its cronies, the Presidency described the accusation as absurd and ridiculous. It stressed that the adherence to transparency and due process would always be President Buhari’s philosophy on doing things.

The Presidential statement reiterated that the Buhari-led administration was passionately committed to fighting corruption in all its ramifications and that no amount of blackmail, distraction and false allegation would deflect the President from this course, in line with his campaign promises.

Buhari Says Anti-corruption Fight Will Secure Youths’ Future

Nigerian YouthsPresident Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerian youths that the ongoing anti-corruption campaign would secure their future.

The Nigerian leader gave the assurance while addressing members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), who marched to the Presidential Villa to pledge their full support for the anti-corruption campaign.

President Buhari spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and , Mr Femi Adesina.

He promised to do his best to place Nigeria well on the way to becoming the nation of their dreams.

The President’s spokesman said: “The youths would feel it, the adults will feel it and old people will feel it… and Nigeria will become the country of our dreams”.

Mr Adesina later received a document addressed to President Buhari from the NANS President, Comrade Tijani Usman Shehu and he promised that the President would look into their requests.

President Buhari had, during his campaign, reiterated his commitment to tackling corrupt practices in Nigeria, saying that ‘corruption will kill Nigeria if it (corruption) is not killed’.

Since he took over office on May 29, the anti-corruption campaign had become more biting with an anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, making several arrests.