The Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka scripted “The Trials of Brother Jero”, the immaculate one with more tricky and deceptive maneuvers than can be imagined, tempted not by anybody but only by himself. This sums up the on-going drama in our political landscape. The court of appeal has ordered that the code of conduct tribunal can entertain the case of false declaration of assets against the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
Earlier, the Code of Conduct Bureau has dragged the Senator to the Tribunal on allegations of false declaration of properties while he was Governor of Kwara State and at resumption of office as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Bureau laid an eighteen count charges against the Senator. However, the Tribunal in its judgment in June acquitted the Senate President which was challenged by the Bureau at the Court of Appeal. The decision at the appellate court that the Senator has a case to answer on count numbered 4, 5 and 6 is not only worthy of commendation but it is instructive to all public office holders who usually declare false assets and sometimes forget properties they own by proxy.
We, at the Center for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, (CACOL) strongly condemn every attempt to arm twist the judiciary particularly the courts which are supposed to be the last hope of the nation. It would be recalled that the trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal was characterized by ploys to stampede the Tribunal with solidarity mobilization of members of the Senate to proceedings which invariably intimidated the Tribunal into taking its political judgment. The decision of the Court of Appeal is a resounding reminder that the judiciary is still independent and can assert the law irrespective of whose ox is gored. Though the Senate President has signified intentions to appeal at the Supreme Court, we hope the path of justice would neither be muddled nor delayed by this process. For it is not common sensical for a judgment to come after the tenure of the Senate President has expired.
Nigerians know how cases drag on for years in our court system. CACOL demands that if the Senate President intends challenging the Appeal Court decision, he should first resign as the President of Senate. As a matter of fact under refined democratic rule in comparism to the crude democracy in Nigeria, even the appearance of the Dr. Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal would have warranted his stepping aside.
CACOL warns the judiciary to be wary of those who engage in technicalities to divert the smooth sail of justice. The defence that the prosecution did not proofthat Dr. Saraki operates a foreign account with American Express Service Europe Limited merely goes a long way to vindicate our position about systemic conspiracies. It is a trite fact that most Banks that serve as warehouse for laundering ill-gotten wealth would always hide under the veil of confidentialities not to reveal indicting documents. CACOL call on global leaders and well-meaning people to rise up to the challenge of piercing the invincible corporate veil whenever corruption charges are at stake.
It is instructive that the prosecution team should diligently appraise the recently released Panama Papers where the Senate President was exposed to have maintained a foreign account in a tax haven country. An account which obviously was not declared in any of the Asset Declaration Forms.
The narratives of economic sabotage committed by people in public office are legendary and this is done with impunity, believing that the system can never catch up with them. The Senate President’s family has a robust history in this regard, the collapse of defunct Societe Generale Bank is a vintage example. The Code of Conduct Bureau should re-examine the papers of all public office holders because we are confident that Dr. Bukola Saraki is just a symbolic representation of a pervasive offence by most if not all public office holders.
“LAGOS BUDGET OF PROGRESS AND DEVELOPMENT WORHTY OF EMULATION – THE DEVIL IS IN DIRE NEED FOR TRANSPARENCY AND CITIZENS OWNERSHIP OF BUDGET “
The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has presented the 2108 budget to the State House of Assembly. The budget tagged “ Budget of Progress and Development” proposed N1.046Trillion to be spent for the completion of on-going projects, commencement of new ones and social infrastructural facilities including health, education, transportation, security and welfare schemes to mention a few. The breakdown shows that N699.082Billion would be spent on capital project and N347.039Billion on recurrent expenditure representing 67% and 33% respectively as well as 28.67% increase over 2017 budget. A number of critical narratives are imperative on this budget proposal.
Indeed, it is not praise singing to note and applaud the fact that in the entire country, it only in Lagos that there is a semblance of governance in the country. There are various developmental projects and investment embarked upon by Mr. Ambode, the general improvement in the road network, bridge construction like the Abule Egba flyoversis worthy of commendation. The State plan to explore and refine oil is a huge and golden investment in the future of the State and its citizens. Yet, the 2018 budget demonstrates that the State is not sleeping on its oars. The budget is not just its highest in the history of the State and second only to that of Cross Rivers State Government in the country. However, while most States and even the Federal Government are enmeshed in budget financed by debt, Lagos is sustaining. The State does not also have any notorious case of owing workers or retirees’ pensions.
As much as we identify with the pivot focus of the budget, we believe that a well blessed State like Lagos should also spend more of its budget on social infrastructures. The allocation of less than 12% to education is not acceptable; Lagos should be able to execute the UNESCO recommendation of 26% of its annual budget. The same goes on provision for health, housing and pipe-borne water. It is apposite to equally insist that a State desirous of taking on developmental flight, there two critical projects of the State which this administration is in the best position to execute. The Independent Power Project and Subway Transport System which has been denied the over populated State on the political intrigues can be initiated now. With the State and the Federal Government controlled by the same Party, there should be conscious policy initiatives to implement these projects. In the same vein, the clamour that Lagos should be recognized as a Federal Capital Status should be a major projection in every policy of the State, showing in the Budget what the State loses or can gain with this status.
We are aware that in advanced industrial democratic world, budget is not a ritual of just the Executives and the Legislature but a festival of the entire society. The inputs of social stakeholders, business, labour, informal sectorand civil societies are rarely factor into processes of budget passage in the country and when done, it is conducted shoddily. Lagos should be a leading example in this direction. This is even more important because under democratic governance, the general populace are supposed to owned the budget.
The question of peoples ownership and transparent passage of budget is even more critical for a society like ours where the eternal vigilance of the populace is necessary for budget monitoring and execution. This is in addition to the fact that it serves as veritable tool to block leakages and wastages in the system. Corruption is best resisted when the citizens are aware the project, the cost and time of execution in their various areas. In the same way, citizens’ support can be mobilized for the projects in their constituencies.
It is our fervent hope that Lagos State would take the leap forward to ensure the citizens of the State owned this budget. We call on the State House of Assembly to request that the Executive furnish it of the list of projects contemplated for the Year 2018 and publish same for the entire society to be aware.
“NIGERIA CANNOT AFFORD TO DANCE TO THE RHYTHM OF JUDICIAL IMMUNITY”
As presently protected by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, immunity to the President and his Vice as well as State Governors and their Deputies remains a highly volatile provision against the background of unbridled brigandage, banditry or naked criminality displayed by those covered by this provision while in office. It is therefore very disturbing perceiving attempts by some strands of the judiciary to cloak that arm of government, particularly serving Judges with immunity from the backroom as evidenced in the recent pronouncement of Appeal Court quashing corruption charges against Justice Nganjiwa.
It would be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa for allegedly receiving the sun of $260,000 and N8.65Million to unlawfully enrich himself as a public officer. In the trial, he pleaded not guilty and contended the jurisdiction of the trial court to entertain the case. He lost the contention and proceeded to the court of appeal where it was held that the Judge cannot be prosecuted until he had either been dismissed or compulsorily retired by the National Judicial Council (NJC). In every civilized society governed by the rule of law, it a given fact that there is always separation of powers and where there is overlap, the traditional custodian of the right supersedes the interloper. For instance, the provisions of an enactment of the parliament is superior to a case law while Judiciary interprets the law, it is the executive arm that carries out the day to day running of the law.
It is thus confusing when an NJC is being robbed with the investigative powers of a law enforcement agency. There is no doubt that the NJC as a professional administrative body for legal practitioners has the power to set standard ethics, practices regulations and investigate and sanction members over professional misdemeanor but that is just where it ends. The body does not have powers to investigate or sanction members over allegations bothering on criminal malfeance, this is an offence against the State.
It is very unfortunate that the NJC which is not a court of law is indirectly been empowered to supersede the court of law by its assertion that a Judge can only be investigated after NJC “Green Light”. This further confounds any reasonable thinker to wonder if the any law enforcement body like the anti-corruption agencies would be able to investigate and prosecute members of the NJC, the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, the High Courts or the Magistrate Courts? If a Judge conspired with others to steal, rape, kill or receive bribe from a politician or any other private citizens, how would such a Judge be brought to book since there is already brick wall of unconstitutional “Judicial Immunity” smuggled in to our legal system?
We, unambiguously condemned this ploy to shatter and destroy known pillars of rule of law and democracy with this judgment. It is a trite fact that the law respects nobody and there is equality before the law just every person even when on trial is presumed innocent until proven guilty. One therefore wonders why some sections of the judiciary are in haste to provide protection and barricade of immunity for its privileged members from been investigated or prosecuted except on clearance from its administrative body – NJC. The determination of this case would decide whether Judges through the instrumentality of NJC and manipulation of processes would soon become a specie of “above the law”.
Nigerians are asking NJC to come out into the public market to manifestly demonstrate how many of its high profile members that it has sanctioned or recommended for appropriate criminal investigation prosecution. Whereas, any toddler would roll out cases of cover-ups and filibustering perpetuated by the Judiciary to protect its own. We warn that justice must be done since no heaven shall fall.
Being the Address of Press Conference by Debo Adeniran of CACOL on the Occasion of Marking the 2017 International Anti-Corruption Day, Saturday, 9th December, 2017
“Concerned about the seriousness of problems and threats posed by corruption to the stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardizing sustainable development and the rule of law”…….Rationalization in the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
BACKROUND CHECK: This year’s thematic pre-occupation of the United Nations in marking International Anti-Corruption Day is very apt in capturing situation in Nigeria and what remains to be done. This is even more succinct when examined against the fact that UNODC and UNDP have developed a joint global campaign focusing on how corruption affects education, health, justice, democracy, prosperity and development submitting that corruption is the greatest impediment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
President Muhammadu Buhari presented an N8.6Trillion 2018 budget to the national assembly with a deficit of N2.005Trillion and a plan to borrow N1.69Trillion from local and foreign lenders to execute the budget. He also informed Nigerians that the budget would be part financed from proceeds of recovered loot. Interestingly, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Barrister Femi Falana has variously asserted that the country has over N300Billion unrecovered loot. In a co-related twist, several European countries where the country’s stolen wealth where kept like Australia have demanded that the Government should demonstrate the infrastructural development project which the funds would be invested on before they can be released. This clearly paints a vivid impact of corruption on our nation’s development.
The President in its 2015 campaign promised to fight corruption and insecurity. This anti-corruption crusade got the kudos of the major leaders of world. John Kerry, the Secretary of State of United State expressed support for the anti-corruption policy at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, while Grant Sharp, the Minister of Interior of United Kingdom explicitly showed the direction of Europe when he stated that “ …. We would continue to provide capacity building technical support to Nigeria to tackle corruption”.
President Buhari is often quoted as stating that the historic duty of his administration is summed up in the clarion that “If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us”. No doubt if this is imbibed by the entire populace, it would be re-echoed with vigour. Many corruption cases have since been blown into the open; Halliburton, Siemens, Mallabu, Panama and Paradise Papers, and the in recent period time the scandalous, brazen sharing of the N2.6Billion arms deal.
HOW FAR FROM LAST YEAR?
In commemoration of Last year International Anti-Corruption Day, we embarked on anti-corruption to highlight the state of infrastructural decadence in the country particularly in Lagos and environs. We were at the then notorious Sango-Otta toll gate, Alimosho and visited a public primary school.
It is highly imperative to note and commend the Lagos State Government in particular that after our tour and awareness campaign last year, most of the affected roads have been taken care. As a matter of fact, the astronomical speed and pace with which Lagos State Government has embarked on road construction and rehabilitation particularly opening up of feeder road has been breath-taking. This has no doubt reduced traffic grid on some major roads thereby reducing the productive man-hour usually wasted on traffic lock.
We however also note that there is continuous downward and negative slide in the standard of the country’s social infrastructure. The health clinics are indeed death clinics, there is no portable pipe borne water, many Nigerians are living in slums or as destitutes while the ruling elites loot the treasuries to buy choiced properties in Dubaiand Europe where no one lives. Even the informal settlements that our people built themselves without government help had been stolen by state land grabbers in places like Makoko; Badia; Ilubirin; Tejuosho market; Otodo Gbame, and others without following international standards on evacuation and relocation of mass housing areas and in clear negation of judicial pronouncements. This is unfair to a people that really need low-cost social housing units enmasse. Public education is not only underfunded but consciously castrated to pave way for private education institutions and no guaranteed social welfare scheme for Nigerians.
The country has become a society where amidst plenty, the majority goes starving and the elites loot more than they can ever spend in their combined lives span. We hear of suicide every day. And the masses groan the more. It is common knowledge that the recession still persist, and only a few in the business class are making the billions. All these are ailments that we have diagnosed over and over again. When corruption bedevils a society, development would go amiss, peace will be eluded, and security would be in tatters!
EFFECTS OF CORRUPTION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, PEACE AND SECURITY
It is correct to assert without any iota of contradiction that Nigeria needs to tackle the monster of corruption before it can effectively embark on its flight to development. What is however worrisome is whether the government, the ruling class and Nigerians realize the enormity of the task of the campaign as manifestly confusing and sometimes conflicting signals are what can generally be discerned by observers. For instance, no state, local government or government agency has openly come with its version or acceptance of the dire need for an anti-corruption policy.
In recent period also, there are obvious cases of dysfunctionalism in the prosecution of the anti-corruption campaign. There is the glaring lack of synergy and absence of coordination among the various anti-corruption agencies [ACAs], as well as between and among the ACAs and other relevant law enforcement and security agencies.The most recent example is that involving the botched attempt by the EFCC to arrest the retired Director Generals of both the DSS and the NIA.Acting on a warrant of arrest issued after the failure of both Ex-DGs to honour invitations with the EFCC, the agency made an attempt to execute the warrant of arrest which also included a search warrant to search their residences. The EFCC operatives were however prevented from executing the warrants by DSS officers, a situation that led to a standoff which lasted more than 10 hours in broad daylight. This arrogant display of official lawlessness is not only reprehensible but an indictment of the President and his team failure to walk his talk on the corruption anti-corruption campaign.
This is not the first time however that similar scenario will be played out. We had something similar when the EFCC raided the homes of some serving judges, and arrested them, with both the EFCC and the NJC trading accusations as to who was to blame for the lack of cooperation which prompted the EFCC to act the way it acted.
Also, the unfolding Mainagate drama speaks volumes as to the absence of coordination within the government. Not only are the two most senior bureaucrats of the government – the Head of Service and the Chief of Staff pitted against each other, but so also are several organs of the government, including the ministries of interior and Justice, as well as the Federal Civil Service Commission [FCSC]. In the same regards, we can also cite the recent public disagreement between the Minister of State for Petroleum Affairs, and the Group Managing Director [GMD] of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC] over acts of insubordination and alleged breach of statutory limits for contract approval by the GMD.Given that in this specific instance, the President is also the substantive Petroleum Minister, it begs the question, how this could have happened under the watch of the President. And it also raises the question as to what the Federal Executive Council [FEC] actually really deliberates upon during its weekly midweek meetings.
Perhaps nowhere else is the consequences of corruption more glaring as in the situation with internal security and the economy. The on-going investigation into the dare devil sharing of funds allocated for combating the insurgency in the North East is a vintage example.
We continue to have a situation where with all the plethora of security outfits at Federal and State levels, all by their legal mandate performing policing and therefore internal security roles and functions; we still have huge and significant gaps with internal security.Kidnapping, armed robbery, gangsterism and cultism, as well as rural banditry and the now seemingly intractable conflict between Herders and Farmers; have all continued to grow in intensity and fester like untreated sours on our body polity.
Compounding this as a significant driver is the unprecedented levels of poverty, inequality, and unemployment – particularly youth unemployment.The police and other security outfits performing policing and internal security duties including Road Safety, Civil Defence, VIO, and all the retinue of paramilitary units and neighbourhood watches established by state governments; lack adequate training, facilities, equipment, welfare conditions, and all the necessary infrastructure required to support effective policing and provide adequate internal security cover.
A core and central part of the problem however is thus this absence of coordination, and the inability to effectively deploy in a complementary manner the available internal security resources in the country.
A government and administration that is torn apart by internal strife, a regime bedevilled with mutually antagonistic internal disputes cannot however be well positioned to provide the political leadership and strategic oversight required to achieve the anti-corruption war of the administration and the needed level of coordination to improve internal security situation
It is pathetic to note the increasing militarization of the polity, yet the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies are notorious as nest of corrupt practices. There is an ongoing campaign to scrap the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) which epitomizes a dangerous, violent corrupt security body. Rather than address the fundamentals, we continue to witness repressive militarization of the society. The Government continues to demonstrate its commitment to draft the Armed Forces more and more into internal security duties and operations. The result is that according to the Internal Police Service Association, our own Police Service is the worst performing police force with respect to internal security among 127 countries whose internal security situation was assessed.
It is curious to note that just as we have the Anti-Corruption Task Force, as well as other task forces, yet the experience is gloomy and the outcome has been increasing levels of dysfunctionality and systemic failure.The only sane and strategic conclusion to be drawn is that coordination, and building synergy is not synonymous with holding meetings. Government must show seriousness by removing all the square pegs in round holes so that corruption can be sent to oblivion once and for all. It is now clear to whoever is honest that there is aneed for all the government agencies to have unity of purpose. There is no way we can kill corruption when some other agencies are openly fighting EFCC or there is entrenched inter-agencies rivalries instead of collaboration
We in CACOL want to call on President Buhari to put his house in order and address the recent internal sabotages against the much-acclaimed Anti-corruption war.
We in CACOL also want to say that economic Development is one of the major ways corruption can be killed. The Buhari government must make bold to start the conscious mass re-industrialization of the country. The rate of unemployment can be drastically reduced if the 2018 budget invests in massive industrialization and capital investment through the revival of public industries and creation of new ones. When industrialization is effected accordingly, there will be less primitive money to steal by those in government and their cronies. This is the logic we have been arguing for a long time now. This country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder if corruption is not killed.
We also want to note that the judicial frustration of anti-corruption cases must be addressed by the Buhari government if there is any seriousness. The office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice needs to be separated and overhauled especially as its strategic hold on the outcome of the anti-corruption war is highly significant. The power of that office portends a great danger for the survival of our democracy.
Finally, we call on the President to start rejigging this non-performing cabinet. The combined ministries of Works, Housing, and Power has been lukewarm and helps vigorously as leakage for corruption especially as the combined ministry has gotten the largest chunks in budgetary allocations since the inception in 2015. Government needs express qualitative functionality in a way that keeps development in the front burner. Performance helps to keep corruption at a low pace. It is trite to emphasise that the refusal or inaction in executing the planned dualisation of Lagos-Ibadan express way, Ojo-Badagry, Onitsha East road and rehabilitation of many roads that are in state of total dis-repair becoming death traps is an indictment of this unwieldy three-star ministry.
We thank you once again for your prompt attendance.
A House Divided Against itself cannot Withstand Adversarial Wind
Almost in spite of wise counsel and common intelligence to the contrary, virtually all the key officers manning anti-graft under President Muhammed Buhari are tearing at each other’s jugular determined to ensure that battle against the monstrous corruption fails beyond any form of redemption. Complicated revelations of mind boggling scandals of allegations and sometimes counter allegations by public office holders and bodies under this administration makes the recent assertion of the President of Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), Dr. Samson Ayokunle very apt when he alerted that “we need to caution the President in particular that the fight against corruption may not be too far away from around him. Those hands that are not right around him, he should be courageous enough to deal with them”.
The comedy of error is legion and the fallacy of “what about you” under this dispensation is legendary. The drama premiered with cutting Ibe Kachikwu to his place by Maikanti Baru was followed by Abdulrasheed Maina reinstatement, sack and disappearance which is as tearfully comical as the shouting bout of Abba Kyari and Oyo- Ita in the hallowed chamber of Federal Executive Council. The collective indictment for us as a nation comes when corruption points accusing fingers at all, as the Minister for Justice and Attorney General sings “ it wasn’t me ” and others in the Interior, Presidency, Head of Service et.al chorus for him. We are now at a cross road where the various anti-graft agencies are either at open cold war or marking time to take sides. The obvious implication is that these security agencies, DSS, EFCC, NFIU, CCB, ICPC have been effectively muffled, becoming toothless bulldog that can not give sinew to the President anti-corruption campaign while “corruption” and its proselytes are the only beneficiaries of the attendant, raging inter-service rivalries.
A cursory example suffices to buttress our point and show a gory portrait of the situation. The EFCC accused the Department of State Security Service attempting to scuttle its investigations into the $2Billion arms scam perpetrated by the former Security Adviser, rtd. Col. Sambo Dasuki, by refusing to release the department suspected officers for question. DSS on the other hand is alleging witchhunting because its Director General, Lawal Daura did not give a clean bill of health to the Senate during the screening of the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu. If there is no synergy between security agencies, when issues degenerate into the low abyss of inter-personal interests, how can they prosecute the battle against corruption with one mind? This is volatile landmine waiting to explode; concerted efforts must be garnered to diffuse it.
It is instructive to note that all over the world, there are instances of inter-service rivalries but this is usually on operation matters and not to the extent of compromising securities or mandated objectives, whenever this occur, the consequences are always very fatal. For instance, the twin bombing in the United States in 11th September, 2001 was discovered to have occurred due to the absence of inter-agency collaboration. The work of most agencies are inter-twined, therefore, there must be sharing of information at real time as the findings into the 9/11 incidence revealed. Today, because of intra-agency petty and negative rivalries, the country has been suspended from the Egmont group which is the operational arm of the global organisation for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), ostensibly because of an initiative by the Attorney General to yank off National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) from EFCC as its autonomy is a desideratum to be pa the of the Egmont group.
The logical necessity for inter-agency collaboration is that while money laundering falls under the mandate of EFCC; there are issues in counter-financing of terrorism that are under the purview of DSS internal security mandate particularly because of events in the North East or external activities of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). It is only a devious system design by an element like Adolf Hitler that would consciously promote the negative import of inter-service rivalries instead deploying same as a balancing factor as was his policy of “survival of the fittest” between the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS during the Third Reich.
Nigeria has a rich history of collaborations between security agencies either as unified or joint command structures which have over the years proven very helpful. Examples abound in the operations of the various Joint Task Force (JTF) which litter our geo-political landscape. The Eagle square bombing of 1st October, 2010 underscores more imperatively why inter-agencies rivalry must be shunned at all cost and collaboration embraced.
“ A House Divided Against Itself Can Never Stand ”
In less than a month, there are several reports of incidences of inter-agencies clashes especially between officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Securities (DSS) in a manner lacking all the paraphernalia of civil governance guarded by entrenched decorum, protocols, rules and patriotic responsibilities.
In a brazen display of national disgrace and embarrassment, the EFCC and DSS flexed muscles in gangsteric style when the anti-corruption agency wanted to arrest a former Director General of DSS, Ekpenyong Ita, and the same fiasco was displayed at the residence of the former Director General of Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ayo Oke. The operatives of the two security bodies lay armed siege against each others, brandishing sophisticated weapons, taking pictures like yoyo kids for hours.
This act in itself is not only condemnable but it is symptomatic of a larger ailment afflicting our nation. Nigeria is held at captive in a permanent siege by the bankrupt and degenerate ruling class who do not respect the constitution and the citizens aspirations better life and socio-economic advancement in the same way the DSS and EFCC are pursuing a grand design to stalemate President Muhammadu Buhari anti-corruption campaigns. More importantly, the security forces in the country are not suffering from bringing forward the military mentality during the military absolute despoliation of governance in the country but act according to their conception. The security force in Nigeria were established by colonial dispensation as “ Forces of Occupation”, decades after, we are yet to purge these bodies from these idiosyncrasies and civilinised, constitutionalised and democratized their operations.
It is a trite fact that the EFCC and DSS are creation of laws and should be accordingly guarded without this menace of inter-agency clashes. The EFCC, like its sister organizations Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), was established by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 and deriving further legal sinew from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), African Union Convention on Preventing and combating Corruption, ECOWAS Protocol on Corruption, UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). The DSS on the other hand, though as an intelligence organization, there are various enactments, Instruments and protocols given it powers and regulating its operations, mechanism and jurisdictional demarcation.
Thus under normal and abnormal circumstances, there should not be any valid reasons for the two agencies to have jurisdictional clashes. These agencies are supposed to work together, their operations are meant to be complementary not contentious and antagonistic. We are clear that there breaches by the parties leading to this clashes which must be quickly probed by the Presidency and stopped immediately.
CACOL calls on Mr. President to urgently call the pointsmen of the two organizations to order before the tear eachothers’ jugular and shred into dirty pieces this administration’s commitment to prosecute without resting the campaigns to eliminate corruption from our national psyche and menu.
“ In a place where tradition is lacking, a striking example becomes relevant”
………….. Leon Trotsky
As much as we at the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL fully identify with the current administration rare and audacious commitment to vigorously prosecute anti-corruption campaign, we are quick to point out that President Muhammadu Buhari need to bring culprits of corrupt practices to effective justice, not just mere negotiations to recover stolen public funds. The President and his team need to step up the ante by making stigmatizing examples of culprits of corrupt and sharp conducts through diligent investigations, thorough prosecution, confiscation of properties and real time convictions in the court of law. This will not only serve as deterrent, but also a striking stigma against corruption, signaling the absolute dedication of government to vanquish corruption.
Without any equivocation, the unbridled looting of pensions funds, attendant sack, criminal conspiratorial reinstatement and correct but embarrassing re-sacking of the former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina is one major corruption case that should not treated with kids’ glove.
BEYOND NATIONAL ASSEMBLY INVESTIGATION OF MAINAGATE
In recent time, the media has been awashed with contradictory, confusing and often laughable assertions on the unpardonable stories of sleaze and corruption engulfing the seemingly “invincible” former Chairman of Presidential Task Force on Pensions Funds, Abdulrasheed Maina. Ironically, there has been curious passing round of the bucks. One of such silly infamies claims that the Federal Government is hampered to take up Maina case because the National Assembly is already investigating the matter. This smacked like a grand scheme to find soft landing for all those that are obviously indictable for this national disgrace, we are certain that a thorough forensic investigation would consume many persons. The other comical claim is that Maina has since disappeared from Nigeria and cannot be brought to book. That. some powerful allies seem to be hiding the above the law crook is an alluring conclusion one would deduce.
As of today, the Nigeria Senate has conducted its investigation into the matter but with a veil of secrecy. An ad-hoc Committee of the Senate set up to investigate the controversial reinstatement and the embarrassing promotion of Maina in the civil service of the Federal Government invited the Attorney General, Abubarkar Malami (SAN) and the Minister for Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazau but the session were held in camera in the office the Committee Chairman. We strongly believe openness and transparency to the media and the general public is integral part of the campaign against corruption.
However, the House of Representatives is reported to have slated the commencement of its ad-hoc Committee for Wednesday, 22nd November, 2017. It promised that the session on Maina’s ill-handling of pensions funds would be broadcast live by Nigeria Television Authority. The Committee also invited Abdulrahman Danbazau, the Head of Service to the Federation, Mrs. Winfred Oyo-Ita, the acting Chaiman of EFCC , Ibrahim Magu and Chairman of ICPC, Prof Bolaji Owosanoye assuring Nigerians that Maina would come out of hiding to face the Committee.
CACOL therefore salutes the courage of the House of Representatives in slating the Committee with live coverage. We hope that would be opportunities for the general public to also interrogate this process. It is a trite truism that anti-corruption war goes smoother with openness, transparency, accountability and the rule of law. We condemn any move to shroud this critical investigation with any garb of conspiratorial secrecy – Nigerians have the right to know all details. We also call on relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that there is no back door settlement with Maina no matter the quantum of information he revealed against his co-travellers in crime. He, along with others must be made to face the full wrath of the law – when you commit the crime, you do the time.
The investigating Committee and all other anti-corruption agencies must not only investigate all the Government’s ministries and officials responsible for the mid-night smuggling of Maina back into the public service, his promotion but also the office of the Accountant General and Auditor General must explain how they paid Maina N21Million salary arrears for a period when the judgment of a competent court of law debar him from the civil service.
The entire civilized world is watching on what would be the outcome of this case, and thus must not be handled lightly. It is our well considered view that justice must be manifestly done, we know that heaven shall not fall. All public funds must be accounted for and infractions duly punished.
The debacle between the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and Dr. Maikanti Baru, GMD, NNPC with the attendant salient issues of corruption and administrative lapses must not be sacrificed under the altar of political expediency, the Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL has said.
“We have followed the events that have been generated by the letter written by Kachikwu to President Muhammadu Buhari on “matters of insubordination and lack of adherence to due process perpetuated by Baru”, and before the dust settle we want to oppose any attempt to sweep the core issues raised in the letter and response of Baru under the carpets.” Mr. Debo Adeniran, the Executive Chairman of CACOL said while stating the position of the Centre.
“While we appreciate the President’s role in interceding, we consider the issues thrown up in the episode as grave. It is a situation that logically requires thorough investigations by the relevant anti-corruption agencies with a view to establish their veracities basic on the economic sensitivity of our oil sector.”
“The altercation between the duo of Kachikwu and Baru, with the way the drama is playing out, this is no clear indication that this saga will not go the way some similar cases appear to have apparently gone. Nigerians were treated to a part of the ‘cover-up’ show in the name of reconciliation at ongoing National Economic Summit yesterday in Abuja where Kachikwu and Baru were posing for media cameras.”
“The President is quite aware of that there are backlog of cases involving public officials; both elected and appointed that has not been resolved. And as these cases pile up, the more the Federal Government’s fight against corruption led President Buhari loses credibility.”
“Unresolved cases bordering on corruption, misconducts and abuse of due processes involving high profile public officials still litter the ground and they are not indications pointing to their resolutions. That the cases of Babachir Lawal, suspended Secretary General of the Federation, SGF, Lt. Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai etc. remain unresolved judicially is totally distasteful, so the President must take decisive steps to ensure that this episode is immediately investigated and those in comatose’ should be reactivated pursued to legal and logical conclusions.”
Adeniran consequently, we called on the President to immediately give directive to appropriate anti-corruption agencies and other security agencies for the commissioning of a comprehensive investigation of the allegations that border particularly on corruption and the administrative lapses.
He said “with what was revealed about the oil sector in their altercations are similar to the tradition that has characterized the management of our petroleum resources prior to the coming of the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress FG, a government with a ‘serious’ anti-corruption agenda. All hands must be on dock to halt the tendencies that sustained corruption in NNPC.”
“Prior to this time, specifically on 13 September, 2017, CACOL had made a call to President in an open letter to make changes in his cabinet; Kachukwu was one of the topmost on the list of names we recommended to be sacked including Raji Fashola and Kemi Adeosun. Thus we are we once again reiterating the call for Kachikwu to be sacked or asked to resign.”
“There are no concrete achievements to showcase 2 years after the inauguration of this government, by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources under the superintending Minister of State, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu. All the lofty promises of performance including making the refineries functional within 6 months and building of new ones given by the Minister at the assumption of duty has fallen flat on their faces, just as Nigeria sadly still import refined petroleum products. At this rate, the situation will persist till this tenure lapse, which will be totally unfortunate and unacceptable.”
“Quintessentially, we also reiterate our call on the President to relieve himself of the position of the Minister of Petroleum Resources immediately. This is to allow him to concentrate fully on the wholesome administration of the government. This clearly needs be done conscientiously against the background of a National Assembly that apparently lacks diligence in its oversight functions preferring the mundane for the significant, it becomes expedient. Buhari should concentrate energy on supervisory roles over all Ministries and the Presidential leadership of the country while a substantive Minister is appointed for the Petroleum Resources Ministry.”
In concluding and speaking on Baru, CACOL’s Chairman said, “the apparent personality clash in the saga is not as important as the business of the NNPC. Statutorily, the NNPC boss knows who he should report to. If the allegations leveled against him are confirmed, then he must be punished accordingly including between being sacked if findings disclose that as deserved. But as long as the job gets done, the person he reports to should not be made a sentimental issue.”
The Executive Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran, has said that people should not be quick to criticize the President Muhammadu Buhari over perceived nepotism in appointments and projects allocations stating that there are adequate reasons for Nigerians to be agitated if the government cannot justify its actions.
Adeniran who was speaking against the background of criticisms that has trailed appointments, projects allocations and resource sharing said “Let us agree that an incipient nepotism is developing or had been growing prior to now. We should not mince words; nepotism is a form of corruption and it contradicts the supposed anti-corruption image of the Buhari-led administration and the so-called change mantra of his political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.”
“We believe that the common wealth of the country should be evenly distributed. But be that as it may be, we must not trivialize equity. By this we mean, no component part of the country should be discriminated against in project allocations and federal appointments but meritocracy and fairness should be the underlining precautions that must always be factored in when it is about administration and governance in a democracy.”
“For instance, the present agitations over some projects allocated to the North eastern part of the country should not generated so much foray in public discourse were it not for the constant distrust that leaders have instilled in the minds of the people.”
“We believe it’s not out of place to allocate more projects to the North-East because of the challenges of that area. It may not sound fair, but we want the President to defend his action. He has a responsibility to justify it convincingly to Nigerians that the allocations are not nepotistic.”
“There should be no equivocation in taking decisions that would largely be acceptable to Nigerians as long as equity in sharing resources is prioritized to a very large extent. The truth is that the present government cannot wish away or invalidate the genuine agitations of the people and that is simply because they are valid!”
“We should now realize why people clamour for a rotational presidency; give a madman a hoe, he’ll make ridges for himself. If a president comes from the North or South, it’s expected he’ll take care of his own first. Admittedly, this is antithetical to democracy,”
“Whether a dichotomy exists between the Northern and Southern part of Nigeria in terms of making appointments, project allocations, resource sharing etc. can only be disproved by the actions or inactions of the holders of the levers of political power at the moment as led by President Muhammadu Buhari.” Adeniran concluded