Dogara, Musa, others challenge Buhari’s corrupt-free credential

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*Dogara (R) shaking hands with President Buhari (R) during the commissioning of the new corporate headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja.

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara has said that the fact that President Buhari has won global acclaim for his uncompromising stand on corruption does not in any way make him (Buhari) the only corrupt-free Nigerian.

Speaking on Thursday at the commissioning of the new corporate headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja, Dogara said there are millions of Nigerians spread across the globe who are corrupt-free aside Buhari.

Dogara, who made an allusion to the Bible added: “As a representative of history, a prophet cried to God and said there was no pure prophet anymore, that they had all bowed their knees to Baal. God replied this prophet that He had reserved in that city thousands who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

“There are millions of Nigerians that have not bent their knees to the god of corruption, that fact I must emphasize.”

Continuing, he said: “The chairman made a statement about a reference that was made of Nigeria as a fantastically corrupt country. Incidentally, that statement was made in a city that is the home of illicit funds. The person also stated that Nigeria leads the world in criminal enterprise. In fact, that in the University of Lagos, you can study and major in credit card fraud.

“That’s the narrative out there, but that must change due to the fact that we have, seating before us here, a president who has won global acclaim as being corrupt free. I can tell you that he is not alone in Nigeria; there are millions of Nigerians that we come across day-by-day that are corrupt-free.”

Speaking further, Dogara said the building of the new EFCC headquarters was a demonstration of the federal government’s commitment to the fight against corruption.

He said it was necessary for the government to now begin to place emphasis on staff and officials of the commission whose trust and sacrifice is critical to the entire anti-corruption war.

“Mr. President, we have the responsibility to insulate the officers and men of this agency from temptation and that means we have to better their condition of service,” he added.

In his remarks, the president said he was ousted as a military head of state in 1985 and imprisoned for three years because he made an attempt to fight corruption in the country.

He s aid all the corrupt persons that were arrested during his administration were released while the loot recovered from them was returned.

“This government promised to fight corruption but corruption will continue to fight back.  (During) my first attempt to fight corruption, corruption fought back successfully.  I was removed as the head of state, detained for three years and people who we recovered stolen money from were given back their money and I remained in detention up until my mother had to die to save me from detention,” he said.

He added: In spite of that, my objective of fighting corruption remains steadfast. I have made significant progress on fighting corruption since 2015. We are pursuing corruption everywhere.

“I see in the office the resolve of Nigerians to fight corruption. We must change our ways of handling public trust. War on corruption is not easy to fight. We must encourage Nigerians to change their attitude. We are not engaged in witch-hunting.”

However, the president said he remained steadfast and committed to the fight against graft despite many challenges.

He said since 2015, his administration had succeeded in recovering trillions of naira stolen by those he described as “people without conscience.”

 

“Since 2015, we have made significant progress in the fight against corruption. Everyone now knows that corrupt officials will be held to account, no matter how long it takes.

“We have recovered and are still recovering trillions of naira that were stolen in the past few years by people without conscience.

“We are pursuing recoveries everywhere and are making sure that anyone who has been found culpable is made to answer for his or her crime under the law.

“It is my hope and expectation that the judiciary, which is a critical stakeholder and partner in the war against corruption, would continue to collaborate with the executive to bring corrupt people to book,” he said.

The president called on the legislature, which provides the legal framework for the anti-corruption war, to add more verve to the determination of the government to rid the nation of the brazen corruption witnessed in recent years.

This, he said, could be achieved through a review of archaic provisions in the nation’s laws and proactive passage of new legislation.

Meanwhile, Nigerians have reacted to the president’s anti-corruption war saying the fight is not comprehensive.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the president’s statement as deceitful

The party’s national publicity secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan said if the federal government wants Nigerians to take the anti-graft war seriously, if behoves the president to rein in his (president’s) lieutenants alleged to have dipped their hands into the public till.

“What the President said, with all due respect, was deceitful. The President knows in his heart of heart that he is not fighting corruption. What he is doing is hounding his opponents with the aim of decimating the opposition.

“For Nigerians to take him seriously about the anti-corruption war, which in any case was fought vigorously under the PDP, we want to see people like Babachir Lawal in the dock.

“Nigerians want to see all those corrupt individuals currently taking shelter in the APC being prosecuted instead of being shielded in places like the Presidential Villa,” he said.

For his part, former governor of the old Kaduna State, Mr. Balarabe Musa agreed that corruption toppled Buhari in 1985 but expressed worry that the president had allowed corruption to fight him back again in this present government

“I agree that it was corruption that sent him out of power in 1985. But the problem is that why is President Buhari allowing corruption to fight him back again in this present government? Why is he not adopting effective measures to tackle corruption in his present government?

“The President seemed not to put the experience from his first government into use in dealing with corruption now. In spite of the experience he gained between 1983 and 1985, you expect him to do better and not allow corruption again to lead to his removal, but we have not seen this.”

Also, a Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, described Buhari’s claim that corruption chased him (Buhari) parking from office as “simplistic,” and a “lie.”

“The President is being economical with the truth by saying corruption was the reason he was ousted in 1985. He is lying. There were so many issues in 1985 which Buhari does not want to admit, which are still germane till now.

“It is too simplistic for him to claim that corruption sent him out of power. No, I don’t agree that it was corruption. It was a coup held for many factors such as individual ambitions and the national situation,” he said.

In his reaction, a chieftain of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo said the president is living in the past and has a penchant for blaming past leaders.

He declared: “What is the relevance of his claim? I don’t really care what he did in the past. I am complaining about what he is doing now. He has not done what people expect of him. The hopes he raised when he came to replace (Dr. Goodluck) Jonathan have been dashed.

“He claims to be fighting corruption with the corrupt persons surrounding him. Is he obeying the rule of law despite his claim that he is now a democrat? Why is Dasuki still in detention and the Shi’ite leader in custody despite several court orders?”

With additional reports from Punch

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