BY AMOS DUNIA, ABUJA – Following the alleged indictment of the Minister of Defence, Major-General Bashir Magashi (retd) in the diversion of $550,000 security fund, the presidency has maintained a silent position by refusing to talk on the matter.
This is even as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu deliberately deflected response on the allegation to the office of the Minister of Defence.
Shehu was asked by journalists to respond on the matter against the backdrop of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption but refused to comment on it.
This is coming against criticisms of a groundswell of allegations of cherry-picking on whom to prosecute in the APC-led government anti-graft offensive.
President Buhari is being directly fingered in shielding Magashi, who is accused of stealing and shipping $550,000 from the nation’s treasury to an offshore account.
Magashi has been called out to explain his role in the slush fund he received from the Abacha loot estimated by the global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International to be at about $5 billion; of which $3 billion has been recovered.
Nigerians are infuriated that the President has ignored the findings in the report as his indisposition to hold his key appointees accountable came to the fore following his spokes person’s insistence that it is not within his briefs to respond to everything.
Asked by journalists to respond to the latest allegation against Buhari’s Defence Minister, Shehu said; “Direct your question to the man (Minister of Defence).”
Curiously, it has been 123 days since Magashi was exposed as having been indicted for stealing about $550,000 from the nation’s treasury for which President Buhari has failed to take action.
The Minister of Defence, Major General Magashi, is alleged to had gotten a slice of the infamous Abacha Loot for which the Buhari government has equally benefitted from in hundreds millions of dollars in returned funds from countries where the slush funds were hidden.
Many Nigerians are feeling embarrassed that the President can deliberately ignore such monumental findings in the report.
As expected, the silence of President Buhari and members of his kitchen cabinet is being interpreted as consistent with his administration’s policy of selective justice in the fight against corruption.
Interestingly, government security agencies believed to always provide background information like the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seem to have turn a blind eye to the Minister of Defence alleged corrupt past before his nomination and confirmation by the Senate.
Commenting on the issue, the Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Mr. Ibuchukwu Ezike, said it is clear that President Buhari is a leader, who fights corruption with two different boxing gloves, stressing that there is no way that Nigeria will be able to win the anti-corruption war with a leader, who still thinks like a clan leader.