Nigerians must unite and decisively take a stand against corruption, no matter who is involved, the Buhari Media Organisation has said.
In a statement signed by the Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and Cassidy Madueke, the Secretary, the group noted that the President Buhari administration is undeterred in its resolve to fight corruption at all levels of government, regardless of the position of the person, or any sentiments attached.
The group was reacting to comments made in some quarters over the recent arraignment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
“We are aware of the sentiments from various quarters on the arraignment of the CJN, but we are equally worried that there is a mindset in the country that sets certain people to be special. The Chief Justice of the Federation leads Nigerian’s third arm of government responsible for the application of the law, he of all people must lead by example, and thus where there is suspicion as to his conduct, it is only right that the law take its course with him.”
“It is important to remind Nigerians that this Chief Justice is the same person who had, in a statement credited to him, said that wherever Nigerians saw corruption among Judges they should call it out. As long as he has nothing to hide then the law should be allowed to take its course, and this should be the mindset of all Nigerians.”
“In fact, Justice Onnoghen is reported to have admitted to have forgotten to declare some of his assets. He said he made a mistake, that is embarrassing, to say the least. A man who should know better than any law officer in the country, should appreciate that ignorance is not an excuse in law.”
The group also argued that in saner climes a chief justice of the country who had previously sat and oversaw cases of other public officials where they failed to declare their assets would have resigned honourably so as not to shame his exalted seat.
“This same Chief Justice has sat down on cases bearing on the declaration of assets by public officials, he had declared some wanting and set others free – like he did to the Senate President – so what is there if he subjects himself to the same procedure he has subjected others to. Moreover, for the sanctity of the profession and the respect for the judiciary, we would have expected that the Chief Justice step down after admitting to making such a profound mistake that casts doubt on his integrity and honesty.”
The group stated that the President Buhari administration was intent and determined to build stronger institutions and would not interfere in the matter.
“The President does not have a hand in the matter, and would not ask that it should be withdrawn, neither would he endorse it. President Buhari believes that when institutions are tested and left to work independently, they are strengthened. And this is his position.
“President Buhari at every point in time he lost an election, before his eventual victory in 2015, submitted himself to the courts and whatever they decided.”
The group called on Nigerians to attune their minds to supporting the President’s anti-corruption war, and support institutions that were set up to purge the country of corruption in any form, especially in the public life.
“Nigerians must not look at the anti-corruption fight from a partisan point of view but from one that seeks national development and restoring sanity to the country.”
The group highlighted that, “President Buhari has the political will to fight corruption and must be given all necessary support. He is the only President who has taken on the three arms of government where corruption was alleged, including his own Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), who he did not spare but fired, and who is under investigation by the EFCC.”
The group noted that the fact that top Nigerians were being investigated and prosecuted showed that the President was not sparing anyone, whether in high or in low places.