Chidi Odinkalu

Bayo Akinloye

A former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, Friday alleged that the anti-corruption war of the Buhari administration was partisan and lacked credibility.

Odinkalu, who spoke exclusively to THISDASY said: “The fact remains that there has been no effort on the part of the administration to invest their rhetoric about fighting corruption with the kind of credibility that will persuade the Nigerian public to own it. It has been manifestly lacking in credibility, looks partisan at best and under-powered on all fronts.

“The President himself is surrounded by appointees and acolytes whose hands are steeped in corruption or who themselves are damaged by well- documented allegations of corruption. In all those cases, nothing has been done.

“In the case of the former SGF, Babachir Lawal, the President first cleared him. Then after the Osinbajo Panel report damned him irretrievably, the President took so long to confirm his sack. Even then, the report will never be published and Babachir retains his grass-cutting loot.

“He is not the only one. The recall of Abdulrasheed Maina and the ample role played by leading lights of the administration in enabling it, says all there is to say about how the Buhari administration is fighting corruption. No one will be held to account for that because the people involved are Buhari loyalists. So, as they say, it’s all good.

Odinkalu also alleged that most state governors were not interested in the country’s anti-corruption crusade.

The rights activist said, “The anti-corruption fight does not seem to have buy-in from anyone at the state level or in the civil populace. Many governors are busy helping themselves and owing their workers. Most governors, clearly, are not on the same page with the President. I am not even sure the President knows what page he is on.”

Speaking on the looters’ list yet to be released by the Buhari administration, Odinkalu said: “The failure of government to honour its promise to release the list is itself a symptom of the problems with the anti-corruption effort. In this case, the issue is an absence of joined-up institutional processes.

“The institutions can’t agree on what is happening and can’t reconcile records, numbers or names. The Attorney General, EFCC, ICPC, DSS, NSA, Ministry of Finance, Central Bank of Nigeria, Accountant-General of the Federation, all are involved and all probably have records that cannot and don’t agree. Indeed, the possibility of some folks running rogue ‘anti-corruption’ operations can’t be ruled out because it does not look like anyone is in charge.”

Odinkalu also suggested that the Buhari administration might be shielding individuals accused of corrupt acts.

He said, “Many of the senior figures against whom there were serious corruption cases know the trick: if they come after you, announce a high-profile defection to the APC and the case is as good as dead.

I also am not sure there will be too many people falling over themselves to blow the whistle on corruption in 2018.

“The government’s reward policy for whistleblowers – like the anti-corruption fight itself – looks in tatters. Look at what happened to the Ikoyi billions whistle-blower. He was endangered, disparaged, tortured, dehumanized. He was detained by DSS for no offence.”