The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for taking the right decision in a bid to calm frayed nerves at the University of Lagos.
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Mr. Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Acting Director, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “it would be recalled that due to the aftermath of the announcement of the removal of Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe as the University’s Vice-Chancellor on Wednesday 12th of August, 2020 at a meeting of the governing council held in Abuja, there have been several reactions from different quarters.
On our part, as a concerned civil society organization, we tried to intervene in the crisis. It is on record that a letter was sent to the President, Muhammadu Buhari on 11th December, 2019 titled “MISAPPLICATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS: MATTERS ARISING” in which we suggested that “the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces as the Visitor to the university could also seize the constitutional provisions to, direct the National Universities Commission (NUC) to set up a visitation panel to visit and examine the state of University of Lagos (UNILAG) as at today and act upon their findings and recommendations”.
It should also be noted that in our press release dated 19th August, 2020, “we called on Mr. President who is the Visitor to the University to intervene in the ugly situation playing out at the University”
The CACOL boss said “it gladdens our heart when we read the government’s position on the crisis as contained in a statement issued on Friday night by the Director, Press and Public Relations, in the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Bem Goong. The statement in which the University’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe and the chairman of its Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN), was directed to step aside pending the outcome of the Special Visitation Panel set up by the President, Muhammadu Buhari. The statement also directed the Senate of the university to “nominate an acting vice-chancellor from amongst its members for confirmation by the Governing Council.”
CACOL therefore commends President Muhammadu Buhari’s wisdom for intervening in the crisis rocking the University before it goes out of hand. The decision taken by the President was in line with our earlier position as stated in the letter we sent to the President and our last press release on the same issue.
We have always believed in the principle of University Autonomy which is the institutional form of academic freedom and a necessary precondition to guarantee the proper fulfillment of the functions entrusted to higher-education teaching personnel and institutions.
We hope this intervention will not in any way violate the autonomy being enjoyed by the university and also believe this will bring a lasting solution to the crisis and engender peace and mutual co-existence between all the stakeholders of the university.
Mr. Tola Oresanwo
Acting Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has taken a swipe at the action of Former Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari for allegedly assaulting an environmental officer enforcing the COVID-19 protocol put in place to curb the spread of the dreaded virus at the nation’s airports.
In a release issued by CACOL on behalf of the organization’s Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and signed by its Coordinator, Administration and Programmes, Mr. Tola Oresanwo, he noted, “The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL received with concern and disapproval news making the rounds to the effect that the former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari allegedly assaulted an airport official who was doing what he was paid to do”.
It would be recalled that the airport officer, on Saturday at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano State, tried to disinfect the luggage of the former governor who was a passenger but Yari pushed him away, claiming he was a very important personality.
“We condemn the attitude of this former governor in its entirety. His action is reckless and height of irresponsibility. By his action he has portrayed himself as an enemy of the state going by the enormity of the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on the country. One would have expected a supposed ‘Very Important Personality’ to support and abide with all directives and protocols laid down to stem the tide of this pandemic”.
“It is lamentable that a man of his status would make nonsense of a well thought out arrangement and protocol aimed at curtailing the spread of the dreaded virus. His attitude shows that many of our past and present public office holders see themselves as superman and demigods that should always be revered, adored and worshipped wherever they are. Can he try that absurdity in a foreign land? Little wonder then, the reason many of them are so bold to engage in various acts of corruption and acting as if they were above the law while holding public offices and forgetting that power is ephemeral”.
The CACOL Chairman added, “Against this unfortunate aberration, we therefore call on Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria to put mechanism in place that would prevent reoccurrence of this unfortunate incidence and spell out sanctions that would be meted out to anyone who violate the COVID 19 protocols so as to serve as deterrent to others while calling on the former governor to publicly apologize for his action”.
Anti-corruption groups, including Transparency International and the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, have condemned the Lagos State House of Assembly for sending wives of the state lawmakers to Dubai at the cost of N80m.
The Speaker of the House, Madashiru Obasa, had told a panel of inquiry set up to probe corruption allegations levelled against him that the N80m was spent on training the wives of 20 lawmakers in Dubai with a budget of N4m each, adding that he declared the event open.
Obasa had said, “We gave N4m to each of the participants for air ticket, hotels, feeding and local travel. An air ticket to Dubai alone costs about N2m.
“The House of Assembly is above common standard of excellence and we have to train people, and this comes at a cost. Learning is not cheap and I have never collected N80m for estacode at a go before.”
But speaking to The PUNCH, Auwal Musa, aka Rafsanjani, the Head of TI in Nigeria, said it was saddening that N80m would be spent on such an event when the health and education sectors in the state were in shambles.
Rafsanjani, who is also the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, said an act could still be deemed as corrupt even if it is approved officially.
The TI head said, “If this is not corruption, what would you call this? The truth is that there is something called official stealing, looting and diversion of funds and it is happening across Nigeria and what the Lagos Assembly has done is just to tell you what is going on in other states.
“It is also a reflection of what is happening at the federal level because states usually emulate the federal. Nigeria’s democracy has been hijacked by those stealing the funds meant for development. Imagine how many communities would have clean water if that money was spent on development?
“Imagine if the money was used in equipping a primary health centre? Why spend it on legislators’ wives?”
Also speaking, the Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, said, “For me, it is not really the N80m that matters but the fact that the state is not supposed to spend a dime on the wives of lawmakers who are not even elected officials. These legislators are already receiving outrageous allowances which ought to cater for their families.
“They need to explain to us why it was important for the wives of lawmakers, women who were not elected, to be trained in Dubai.”
Similarly, the Chairman, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, Olanrewaju Suraju, said the spending could not have been included in the state’s budget.
“Lagos Assembly has 40 lawmakers out of which 37 are men. How come it is the wives of 20 that were taken for that controversial event? That money could not have been included in the budget. I don’t believe the wives even travelled but the money was just transferred to them.”
He called on anti-corruption agencies to investigate the trip.
Suraju said, “Constitutionally, it is inappropriate; these are not members of the parliament.
“ 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.
Reacting to the newspaper report on the former President Jonathan’s refusal to respond to the House of Representatives’ formal invitation to him over his alleged role in the controversial $1.1bn Malabu Oil deal, the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL has called on him to go and clear himself of any form of complicity, either directly or indirectly as that is the only way he could be absolved.
The anti-corruption organization challenged the former president to avoid applying the old method of dodging as it will not be helpful to him. Speaking on the former President’s refusal to honour HOR’s invitation, Mr. Debo Adeniran, leader of CACOL who retorted said, “Now that his name has come up in the record of the probe, he cannot wish it away. He must be made to realize that it will continue to remain in the record and no matter how long it takes; it’s just going to be a matter of time for him to be made to answer for questions about a lot of atrocities committed under his watch. If he believes his hands are clean, then why the fear to appear?”
“And if on the other hand, his refusal is borne out sheer contempt for the House, he perhaps needs to be reminded that the constitutional immunity does not cover former presidents and so the instrumentality of the law is ever so alive and potent and could always be applied if and when it becomes necessary. The refusal itself is quite unstatemanly.”
The Malabu Oil corruption scandal which has for almost two decades ran through successive regimes, from Abacha’s to Obasanjo’s down to this day, been in the eye of a protracted stormy international investigation with names of some Nigeria’s government top shots including petroleum ministers, justice ministers, even heads of state and oil multinationals featuring prominently. Investigations and litigations in various European juries have frequently thrown up discoveries of high-scale official corruption and compromise which has so far made the Malabu deal a hydra-headed monster that has refused to die.
Adeniran said “It is so sad that even though some names of Nigeria’s top public officials’ had appeared atop many investigative submissions in many foreign lands over this scandalous deal and causing various ad hoc committees to be set up by both legislative chambers at different times, right from the days of Obasanjo’s reign down to this day, nothing concrete has been achieved so far.”
“There is no disputing the fact that GEJ presided over the most corrupt and reckless government ever in the political history of this country. Under his watch, massive looting and squandering of the country’s wealth at the most alarming scale took place.”
“It will be recalled that, directly under his watch, both indicted members of Jonathan’s cabinet in persons of Bello Adoke and Deziani Alison-Madueke, ministers of justice and petroleum respectively, blatantly shunned the House of Representatives probe panel’s invitation to them to appear for questioning over the matter. So, Jonathan has no moral justification to refuse to answer the call of the representatives of the citizens of Nigeria to provide answers to activities that took place during his rule.”
“We therefore strongly advice the former President to honour the invitation of the legislative house without further delay if he places any value on his name. Eventually, the truth will come out and it will prevail.”