How Buhari’s 10 sacred cows make the anti-corruption war unbelievable
One of the greatest selling points of President Muhammadu Buhari which led Nigerians to choose him at the expense of an incumbent during the 2015 general elections was the strong belief that he was going to combat Nigeria’s worst enemy, corruption.
While other promises such as adopting a better approach to the fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group and fixing of the economy may have formed part of the reasons he was voted in as president, a good number of those who voted him believed that once corruption was fought to a standstill, other issues besetting the country could easily be fixed.
A stunted war
However, two years into his administration, the hydra-headed monster continues its public dance despite the celebrated fight against corruption.
While many Nigerians continue to applaud the efforts so far made in the fight against graft, a good number of them have also dubbed it lopsided and a witch-hunt against the opposition and perceived enemies of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The most worrisome aspect of President Buhari’s fight against corruption, as argued by many critics, has been the inability, or lack of will, of a perceived no-nonsense leader, viewed as unbiased and a respecter of nobody, to investigate and where need be, prosecute his party members and top appointees fingered in sundry corruption allegations.
Belling the cat
Recently, not happy with this situation, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), submitted an outline of the allegations of corruption against some top officials of President Buhari’ administration to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
In a statement signed by the group’s Executive Director, Olanrewaju Suraju, CSNAC listed allegations against Mr. Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai among others.
With recent developments in the polity, it has become apparent that allegations of involvement in corrupt practices by top officials of the Presidency may have contributed to the present face-off between the executive and legislative arms of government.
Sequel to these worrisome allegations and consequent clashes generated within the polity, Ripples Nigeria reviews President Buhari’s seeming inaction against appointees with allegations of graft against them, and who many Nigerians now tag as sacred cows.
The coming of sacred cows
Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman EFCC: Among the graft scandals involving President Buhari’s appointees, that of Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission appears one of the most disturbing.
This is especially as the President twice submitted his name to be approved as substantive EFCC boss, and on the two occasions the Senate refused to confirm his appointment.
The Senate initially refused to screen Magu, but after he was cleared of any wrongdoing by President Buhari, he was eventually screened.
However, sequel to a letter from the Department of State Security (DSS), as happened in the first case, indicting Magu of corruption, the Senate again refused to approve his appointment.
What has left many Nigerians confused has remained how a President clears his appointee of corruption, but an institution under his supposed control goes behind him to submit a damning report on the individual.
The play of events led to the present serious face-off between the presidency and federal lawmakers who have insisted that they will not approve the list of President Buhari’s newly appointed Resident Commissioners for Independent National Electoral Commission until Magu is fired.
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Magu, the man championing the anti-graft campaign of President Buhari’s administration is accused by the DSS of corruption practices and abuse of office.
DSS claimed in a 15-paragraph letter to the Senate that its investigation conducted on Magu disclosed that in August 2008, sequel to a search at the EFCC boss’ residence during the tenure of Mrs. Farida Waziri as EFCC chairman, some sensitive documents that were not supposed to be in his possession were discovered.
It claimed among several other allegations that Magu lives a showy life occupying a rented apartment of N40million as EFCC chairman at N20million per annum, which according to it was not paid for by the EFCC but by Commodore Umar Mohammed, a man the DSS said is a questionable businessman who it once arrested.
According to DSS, Mohammed extravagantly furnished Magu’s residence at the cost of N43million.
Magu was also accused of going on official and private trips aboard a private carrier, Easy Jet owned by Mohammed and that on one of such trips, he was flown to Maiduguri along with Mohammed, and the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, who also is being investigated by the EFCC over complicity in funds allegedly lodged with the bank by the former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The report further claimed that Magu once flew first class to Saudi Arabia to perform the lesser hajj at the cost of N2.9million.
Amaechi, Transportation Minister
Rotimi Amaechi, the former Rivers State governor has had serious allegations of corruption to contend with.
He was once dubbed “fantastically corrupt” in an article published by UK Mail and written by Paul Cahalan.
In the article entitled, “Is Nigerian leader’s pal ‘fantastically corrupt’? Friend of African president accused of stealing £500million” Cahalan said that despite Buhari being seen by some as leading the fight against corruption, worrying allegations swirl around one of his close allies.
He stated in the article that Amaechi, who travelled with Buhari to the summit on corruption in London, bankrolled Buhari’s presidential campaign in 2015.
Part of that article read, “In the Nigerian press he has been dubbed ‘ATM’ – the American term for cash machine – because of his ability to produce vast sums of money at short notice.
“He remains in his post despite being accused of misappropriating £338million by a commission investigating the sale of state assets.
“Separately, Amaechi is accused of diverting £140million of state funds into Buhari’s presidential campaign, with reports he paid for media, consultants and private jets.”
A Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the sale of state assets and led by Justice George Omeregi, had also in its whitepaper report presented to the state government, demanded for immediate prosecution of Amaechi and all persons involved in what the government tagged fraudulent transactions.
The white paper further recommended among other things that Amaechi; a former military administrator of Rivers State, Brigadier Anthony Ukpo (Rtd) and some other former political office holders should refund over N97billion allegedly misappropriated in the sale of the state valued assets.
Amaechi has also been accused of trying to bribe a Justice of the Supreme Court, John Inyang Okoro, in order to compromise justice.
Justice Okoro, who was one of the judges arrested last year by the DSS over alleged corruption, had claimed that Amaechi attempted to use him to compromise the outcome of election petitions in Akwa Ibom, Abia and Rivers states at the Supreme Court.
He claimed Amaechi visited his official residence and told him that the APC must win their election appeals in respect of Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia at all costs. The Justice alleged that the minister informed him that the decision to compromise the election appeal had the endorsement of the president.
While Amaechi had denied these allegations, government is yet to investigate them.
Buratai, Chief of Army Staff
Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, another appointee of President Buhari was accused of owning properties valued at $1.5million in Dubai.
While the Army spokesperson, Colonel Sani K Usman, admitted that Buratai indeed has two choice properties in Dubai, he, however, explained that the Army boss bought them with his personal savings and has twice disclosed them in his assets declaration documents.
The claim was later supported by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).
But many Nigerians, including the chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), Mr. Debo Adeniran, argued that the CCB may have been complicit in the Dubai property scandal surrounding the Chief Army Staff.
Adeniran, like some other Nigerians, had demanded that the CCB verify the value of Buratai’s assets in relation to his verifiable legitimate earnings.
CCB’s failure to fulfil that demand till date has left some questions still hanging unanswered in respect of the scandal.
Also unresolved was the demand by CACOL then, that EFCC immediately investigate Buratai, wondering how an army general managed to save $1.5m.
Dambazau, Minister of Interior
Lt. -Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.), made the list of appointees of President Buhari with corruption scandal following an alleged report by an online portal on July 22, 2016 that he owns several assets in the United States worth over $3million.
The report further alleged that he also owns properties in the Federal Capital Territory well beyond his possible savings as a retired military officer.
The list of the properties in Abuja according to the report include Hajjar Plaza, an imposing building located along Ahmadu Bello Way, Lebrex Plaza, located in Utako, along Ajose Adeogun Street and a huge real estate at 15 Dodoma Street, in Wuse Zone 6.
Fashola, Minister of Power, Works and Housing
The corruption allegation involving former Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola has remained unresolved till date.
A group, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), in a petition dated August 10, 2015 and addressed to the EFCC chairman demanded that Fashola be probed for using N78million state funds to host a personal website.
In addition, it also asked the anti-graft agency to probe the N1.2billion spent on the construction of pedestrian bridges along Eti-Osa – Lekki – Epe expressway “which did not specify the number of bridges.”
Other areas the group urged EFCC to look into include the N17million awarded for the provision of wall signage in three magistrate courts; N3.46billion spent on the construction of a beach resort in Ilase; and N61million disbursed for a Range Rover SUV and two Toyota Hilux trucks as the official vehicle of Chief Judge of the state.
These puzzles were left unresolved before Fashola was appointed minister and has remained unanswered till date.
Meanwhile, in his reaction to the allegations, Fashola said the people asking the EFCC to investigate him have been paid.
When also confronted with some of these allegations during his confirmation as minister by the Senate, he told the lawmakers that he never signed a cheque throughout his tenure as governor of Lagos, neither did any of his commissioners.
Fayemi, Minister of Solid Minerals
A warrant of arrest was recently issued on Mr. Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State’s former governor by the state House of Assembly over his failure to appear before the House to clear himself of corruption allegations.
Operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), are said to be investigating an alleged misappropriation of over N25billion by Fayemi’s government.
Fayemi is alleged to have corruptly enriched himself and is currently being investigated by the ICPC in the award of construction of earthwork for the new governor’s office at the sum of N383,900,911.06, a construction of new governor’s office at the sum of N2,027,495,857.45 and the construction of Civic Centre at the sum of N2,573,584,395.75.
Also is the N852, 936,713.92 State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) counterpart fund, which was withdrawn from the Access Bank account of SUBEB on October 8, 2014, eight days to the end of Fayemi’s tenure, among several others.
He has gone to court to challenge the Assembly summons, and has also instituted a suit against some of its members claiming defamation of character, among other things.
The Secretary to the Governemnt of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, has remained in the news as one of the top appointees of President Buhari with corruption scandals.
His case ranks among the most deliberated allegations of graft involving top officials of the present government.
The Senate had after discovering alleged corrupt activities involving the SGF asked Buhari to suspend and ensure his prosecution.
A report by a Senate ad hoc committee led by Senator Shehu Sani on the mounting humanitarian crisis in the north-east, accused him of breaching Nigeria’s law in handling contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE).
The report claimed that Mr. Lawal’s company, Global Vision Ltd., is one of the companies which benefited from inflated and phantom contracts or ones not executed at all, which were awarded by the PINE.
Mr. Lawal’s firm was said to have been awarded a contract worth over N200million to clear ‘invasive plant species’ at a camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Yobe State.
The committee further revealed that as of the time the contract was awarded in March 2016, Mr. Lawal was still the director of Global Vision and that he only resigned in September, 2016.
The committee also alleged more recently that about 20 companies listed as having been awarded contracts under PINE, supervised by Babachir, may be ghost firms after all.
Despite the allegation, Lawal was, however, cleared of any wrongdoing by President Buhari.
Babachir who has failed to honour Senate summon at two recent occasions is, however, still expected to appear before the probe panel.
Kiyari, Chief of Staff (CoS)
Unlike some other top members of President Buhari’s administration with corruption scandals, his CoS, Abba Kiyari, has several allegations of corruption revolving around him.
Among some of the allegations is his alleged reception of N500million from operators of MTN to help the telecommunications giant mitigate the fine imposed on it by the Federal Government.
There was also an allegation of how he took money from Jide Omokore, a man allegedly involved in shady business who was accused of being massively tangled in corruption in the oil sector in the preceding administration.
There are also claims that Mr. Kiyari wanted to remove Magu from EFCC in favour of a candidate who will be more pliable to his wishes.
Kiyari further made newspaper headlines for the wrong reasons when he was fingered in fraudulent activities with the finances of the Nigeria High Commission, London.
The trio of Kiyari, Adah Simon Ogah, Nigeria’s acting High Commissioner, and Omolayo Akinfala, a special assistant to Aisha Buhari, the president’s wife, were fingered in that report for allegedly “dubiously’ deploying the country’s resources for questionable or illicit purposes.
Enelamah, Minister of Trade and investment
While the allegations of corruption involving Buhari’s ministers took place before their appointment, it was not the same in the case of Okechukwu Enelamah.
The Minister of Trade and Investment was alleged, along with some banks, to have aided the repatriation of $13.92billion out of Nigeria illegally by the telecommunication company MTN.
In a petition dated October 4, 2016 and submitted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, CSNAC called for an investigation into the alleged involvement of Enelamah and some banks in the illegal repatriation of $13.92billion.
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) was also sometime last year pointed at as not being free from acts of corruption based on the claim made against him by Justice Adeniyi Ademola, a Federal High Court Judge, who was recently acquitted by the court of any wrongdoing in the corruption charge preferred against him by the Federal Government.
Ademola, in a letter to the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mahmud Mohammed, pointed accusing fingers at Malami. He claimed the AGF was after him for granting bail to former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, as well as the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
He further accused Malami of being on a vendetta/revenge mission against him for not having, as a Federal High Court judge, condoned Malami’s “professional misconduct” in Kano between 2004-2008.
Also not left out in the web of corruption allegations involving top officials of the present administration is President Muhammadu Buhari himself, who has been accused of nepotism.
Forms of corruption according to Wikipedia vary, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, parochialism, patronage, influence peddling, graft, and embezzlement.
It may be important to recall that a former Joint House Leader of the defunct Peoples Redemption Party and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, as well as a member of the Defence Committee in the Second Republic, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, from Kano State in an interview published by a very popular newspaper, described nepotism in President Buhari’s government as the “worst in Nigeria’s history.”
The challenge before Buhari
While several of these high ranking government officials have debunked the allegations of corruption leveled against them, many individuals and groups have continued to call on President Buhari to walk his talk in his administration’s fight against corruption.
Several petitions to anti-graft agencies in regards to these allegations have remained unattended to and this has continued to cast doubts over the seriousness of President Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign.
There are now increasing demands for the president to set up an unbiased and independent panel of inquiry to investigate these allegations. But whether that will ever happen, no one can tell, at least for now.
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April 10, 2017 at 11:19 am
Let’s just forget about Buhari fighting his appointees , let him recover the loots from the pdp politicians and personnel who carted away our money and when another party comes in with mindset of fighting corruption, then they can probe all these Apc stalwarts too.
April 10, 2017 at 11:28 am
Baba Buhari is not partial in any form in his fight against corruption and there are no sacred cows in his government. All these people mentioned were investigated and were found guiltless, so what else do they want him to do?
April 10, 2017 at 11:35 am
Keep your dirty mouth shut aboki. Buhari is abetting corruption big time. He is scared of losing second term bid if he fights these powerful people. The only thing I know is that, he might still later fight them in his second term because he knows by then, he won’t have anything to lose again. Politics is a game of calculation.
April 10, 2017 at 11:58 am
It is hightime we realized Buhari, his apointees are not capable of bringing any good change to Nigeria, except if they will make the country badder than they met it. The earlier we accept this, the better and easier 2019 election will be for Nigeria. We need to make sure anyone we’re voting for in 2019 is a credible fellow and we must be very sure.
April 10, 2017 at 12:00 pm
The change they have started bringing already, you are a nitwit.
April 10, 2017 at 12:02 pm
Nigerians voted Buhari in 2015 because we were all testy for change without minding the type of change Buhari is going to bring to us. Since he has been the president of Nigeria, things are not better, we keep living on the same old promises that things will change without any action what so ever.
April 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm
I have come to the conclusion that Nigeria as a country was built on lies, that’s why we WILL NEVER have any leader that will tell us the truth. Buhari was a good man until he became the president of Nigeria, now he his highly bias. Buhari used to be a man of good integrity, but now, what can we say of him?
April 11, 2017 at 5:21 am
Don’t forget presidential seat is not a place of good heart but a seat of evil tort so Buhari should not be good after seating on that seat
April 11, 2017 at 9:59 pm
Buhari is confused