Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
A civil society organization, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has called for the immediate sack of the Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed for allegedly abusing his official privilege by requesting for N13. 12 million from one of the agencies under his supervision.
The rights group said the action amounted to promoting the culture impunity and lack of transparency by demanding for a loan of from Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to fund his China trip.
According to a statement signed by the National Coordinator of the group, Emmanuel Onwubiko, the group demanded his immediate dismissal from the federal cabinet for abusing his official priviledge.
Onwubiko described the minister’s action, “as a subtle attempt at blackmail and a sinister plot to seek to extort N13 million from one of the agencies under his ministerial supervision. The action is absolutely against President Muhammadu Buhari’s current anti-graft disposition which is signposted in the bringing into being of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
He added: “As an administration which has shown through different local and international platforms that it is primarily passionate towards eradicating economic crimes and corruption, it is imperative that everything is done to protect the whistle blowers without whom this heinous illegality of obtaining loan through false pretence by the information minister would have become a fait accompli.”
The rights group stressed that, “Mr President must see this as a litmus test of his avowed commitment not to tolerate impunity and lawlessness from even his closest political friends.”
HURIWA urged the president to remember his constitutional oath of office and not to allow political consideration to override public interest by dismissing immediately the minister who has publicly accepted authorship of the loan request letter.
HURIWA also urged the President to as a matter of priority ensure that the staff of NBC are protected from the ongoing ‘’witch-hunt exercise’’ ordered by the minister who was angry that his letter requesting for a loan was leaked on social media.
The rights group emphasized: “What this clever-by-half explanation for the letter demanding for loan of whooping N13.12million by the supervising minister to an agency under him has demonstrated is a total ignorance of extant civil and public service rules and the ethical codes of conduct.”
HURIWA queried: “Should a Supervisor descend to the arena to illegally coerce through subterfuge an agency under his purview to take a loan when in actual fact this federal government said all revenues made by agencies are to be paid into the Treasury Single Account and domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria? Did President Muhammadu Buhari through the Finance Ministry and the CBN upgrade the NBC into a lending institution far away from the statutory mandate for which it was set up in the first instance?
“The most honourable thing for the information minister to do under the circumstance is to resign forthwith or be dismissed forthwith by the president to save his administration,” it added.