‘President Buhari’s Anti-corruption Crusade May Lag Unless Re-energised’

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  • Selective approach can embolden treasury looters, says Rafsanjani

Funke Olaode in Washington DC

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, a not-for-profit organisation based in Abuja, has called on the Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari to step up its anti-corruption crusade before Nigerians lose confidence in it, and before it lags behind other similar global efforts.

The call was made by the Executive Director of CISLAC, Mr. Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, on the sidelines of the recent International Monetary Fund/World Bank Spring Meetings held in Washington DC, USA.

According to Rafsanjani, “the call became imperative looking at many areas in which the Nigerian government is working on corruption; but there seems to be a lot of setbacks in the fight against corruption in the country.”

He said “in recent times, Nigerian government had come up with a policy on whistle-blowing that will encourage the citizens to expose corruption and then even get rewarded; even though we felt we need to institutionalise that framework to guarantee the safety and security of whistleblowers.”

He noted that “what shocked us (Nigerians) recently was an alleged ‘money for confirmation’ against the National Assembly during a public hearing to investigate the circumstance that surrounded the NIA (National Intelligence Agency) scandal that led to the sack of the former acting Director General.

“The sacked acting DG came and gave testimony and exposed how some high placed people were demanding bribe for him to be confirmed. What shocked us was that instead of for him to be actually celebrated as somebody who exposed corruption, he was actually sacked. Not only was he sacked but from the information that we had, his life has been threatened. So you just wonder whether the policy on whistle-blowing is actually real and operational.

“If it is real and operational, how can somebody who exposed this kind of monumental corruption at the NIA get sacked and even his life is being threatened?

“We are worried as anti-corruption activists that for anybody who actually exposes corruption, he or she might not be protected by the state, because if the policy does not have sincerity in it, it means that people fighting corruption can even get killed and not only sacked.”

He seized the opportunity of his interaction with journalists at the international forum to call on the Nigerian government, particularly the president, to investigate the circumstances of the sack of the former NIA DG because “we believe that what happened is a setback to exposing corruption and the fight against corruption in Nigeria.”

“If somebody can be rewarded with sack and threat to life, it means other people in the different ministries and parastatals will not be able to expose corruption that is going on in the MDAs.

“So we are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the National Assembly leadership to investigate those who demanded bribe for his confirmation, which as a result of not paying he was sacked and his life threatened.

“We are doing this because we want to maintain the integrity of the fight against corruption because anybody can be a victim. If you are honest and a patriotic Nigerian and you expose corruption, instead of you to be protected you will now be victimised. We don’t want this victimisation to silence further exposure of corruption in Nigeria because if we allow this to go, many people in and outside government will not come out to expose corruption,” Rafsanjani added.

Commenting on the list of looters, he expressed amazement that there was nobody from the ruling party among the names.
“We think this can jeopardise the sincerity of the fight against corruption in Nigeria. The fight against corruption must not be selective, sectional and to protect those who are in the same party. It must cut across everybody. We believe that exposing the looters is a good step because we need to begin to name and shame people who have looted the country. But it must be done in a manner that cuts across people who have been involved in corruption.

“We believe there are people also at the local and state governments who have been looting the country and their names are not on that list. So we want the Nigerian government to continue to expose looters but the list of names must be comprehensive.

“Recently there was even a court order instructing the Nigerian government to publish the names of all the looters across parties, ethnic, religious divide. If government continues to do selective fight against corruption, it will lose the confidence of Nigerians; it will also boost the confidence of looters,” the anti-corruption crusader added.