Nigeria ‘ll Rank Among Corruption-free Nations – Buhari Vows

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  • Resolute on making corruption  unattractive

  • Panel questions Police’s monopoly of EFCC Chair

Report presentation by Justice Salami (rtd)

BY EDMOND ODOK, ABUJA – President Muhammadu Buhari says debilitating national challenges notwithstanding, Nigeria remains focused on the path of becoming a country with zero tolerance for corruption.

Though admitting that corruption smells everywhere in Nigeria, the President insists there is no letting off the steam on his burning desire to make the country one that vigorously battles the menace to achieve the needed results.

”The sad reality confronting us as a people is that there is corruption almost everywhere; at many levels of government, and nearly every stratum of our society. Mindful of the threat that corruption poses to us as a nation, this administration has specifically focused on the fight against corruption”, he declared.

Obviously reacting to insinuations of selective prosecution of individuals and alleged soft-landing for friends of his administration, President Buhari also warned; “Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!'”

The President, who received the report of Justice Ayo Salami (rtd)-led Judiciary Commission of Inquiry that investigated suspended Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu at State House, Abuja on Friday, also acknowledged that: “Corruption is present in all countries”, adding; “Some Governments treat it with levity. Some fight it all the time. I want Nigeria to be counted among those countries that do not tolerate but fight corruption.”

He urged all stakeholders, and indeed every Nigerian to own the fight against corruption at their respective levels in order to protect the nation’s “political and economic systems, and the continuous existence of the Nigerian State from the serious threat of corruption.”

According to a press release by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President maintained that the anti-graft battle is one that must be fought without fear or favour.

The President said further: ”As a government, and in furtherance of our anti-corruption programme, we have since inception engaged in many reforms in removing corruption, including but not limited to the enforcement of Treasury Single Account (TSA), strict implementation of the Bank Verification Number Policy and signing unto the Open Government Partnership.

“A lot of efforts have gone into building and development of our anti-corruption institutions. We have so far kept faith with our promise and shall remain committed until Nigeria triumphs over the evil of corruption; attain a prosperous economic status; and surmounts her security challenges.”

For President Buhari; “The stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touches on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes. It is an abomination that strikes at the root, and undermines the Government’s anti-corruption programme.

”It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a Panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).

”We recognize that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.”

He therefore thanked Panel members for their dedication and commitment to the fight against corruption by delivering on their assignment.

Justice Salami, who spoke on behalf of the Commission, said the suspended EFCC Acting Chairman, Magu and 113 other witnesses appeared and testified before the Commission.

He also disclosed that 46 petitions and memoranda were presented by individuals and organisations with complaints against Magu and the EFCC or both parties.

Justice Salami, who said the Commission also embarked on a nationwide physical verification of recovered forfeited assets, comprising real estates, automobiles, vessels and non-cash assets, lauded the President’s directives to dispose all forfeited assets ”because of the poor condition of the assets we saw during our physical verification nationwide.”

While noting that all four past EFCC chairmen since inception were from the police, the Panel Chairman recommended that in appointing a new chairman for the anti-corruption agency, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies as well as the Commission’s core staff as contained in the EFCC Act of 2004.

The retired Court of Appeal Justice thanked the President for giving the panel members an opportunity to serve the country.

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