Civil society coalition flays Buhari government on anti-corruption

May 17, 2019
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By Odimmegwa Johnpeter/Abuja

The coalition of civil society organizations has flayed the anti-corruption stance of the Buhari administration. This is contained in a statement made by Ezenwa Nwagwu on behalf of the coalition.

The coalition during a press briefing in Abuja titled, “The Next Level for the Fight against Corruption”. The coalition noted that the previous gains made by the Buhari administration and other past administrations in the fight against corruption has suffered some reversal under the Buhari government even with the introduction of Treasury Single Account, Bank Verification Number, and Human Resources Management Program. It regretted that for an administration that promised to tackle corruption head-on, as one of its tripod strategy for reviving public confidence in government, its reduced vigour in the fight against corruption amounts to a betrayal of public trust. The coalition also stressed that widespread corruption and impunity have continued to impede development and threaten democracy in Nigeria.

The coalition pointed to instances of government lethargy in scandals involving the former secretary to the government of the federation, Babachir Lawal as well as the Kano State Governor as evidence of reduced momentum in the fight against corruption.

According to the coalition, one of the greatest disappointments in the fight against corruption under the Buhari administration came from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami who has the sole responsibility to deliver justice in public interest in its actions, inactions and decision. It recalled the many shady and odious role the current Attorney General, Abubakar Malami has played to deliberately frustrate the fight against corruption. It recalls the Minister’s role in the fraudulent reinstatement of Former Chairman of Pension Task Force, Abdulrasheed Maina who was wanted on allegations of corruption, into the Civil Service Commission.

Another is the shady deal involving the minister which led to the approval for the payment of a highly controversial and contentious payment of $17million to two lawyers for an already concluded deal on the repatriation of the Abacha loot from the Swiss Bank. There is also the Malabu scandal involving former oil minister Dan Etete, Eno and Shell in a heist allegedly resulting in a loss of more than $1billion to Nigeria. Others include the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission scandal and alleged involvement of diversion of about N2.5billion. it also stated that the current Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has played an odious role to deliberately frustrate the fight against corruption in the last three years, noting that these actions are inconsistent with the expectations of his office and inimical to the administration’s zest to fight corruption.

In the light of these, the coalition calls on President Buhari and Vice-President Osinbajo to consider the following recommendations.

Immediately relieve and replace the current Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Malami, in order to salvage the fight against corruption and recover public confidence and support for the fight against corruption; The President to reconfigure his fight against corruption by ensuring people with questionable characters are not appointed to sensitive positions capable of curtailing the independence of key anticorruption agencies and the fight against corruption; That the President considers separation of the office of the AGF from the Minister of Justice to avoid conferring such enormous power to an individual; That the Presidency distances itself from suspected corrupt officials by not defending them and by upholding the independence of key anticorruption agencies; That the President immediately order immediate commencement and/or continuation of the prosecution of outstanding high-profile corruption cases including members of his political party and his appointees including the former SGF, Babachir Lawal; That Mr. President insist on accountability of anticorruption agencies including the CCB/CCT, EFCC, ICPC and others involved in prevention, investigation and prosecution of corruption, to ensure probity and accountability.

The coalition of Civil Society Organizations on Anticorruption comprises of the following: African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Action Aid Nigeria (AAN), Connected Development (CODE), Lawyer’s Network against Corruption (LAWNAC), Social Action, Keen and Care Initiative.

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