Magu: Corruption present at many levels of government, Buhari laments

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Friday, lamented that corruption is present almost everywhere and at many levels of government.

He described the situation as the sad reality confronting the nation.

According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President spoke while receiving the report of the Justice Ayo Salami (retd.)-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the Investigation of the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.

The statement was titled “President Buhari: I want Nigeria to be counted among countries that do not tolerate but fight corruption.” Buhari was quoted as saying that the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up to fight economic and financial crimes.

The President added that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the country.

Buhari said, “The sad reality confronting us as a people is that there is corruption almost everywhere; at many levels of government, and nearly every stratum of our society. Mindful of the threat that corruption poses to us as a nation, this administration has specifically focused on the fight against corruption.

“As a government, and in furtherance of our anti-corruption programme, we have since inception engaged in many reforms in removing corruption including but not limited to the enforcement of Treasury Single Account, strict implementation of the Bank Verification Number Policy and signing unto the Open Government Partnership. A lot of efforts have gone into building and development of our anti-corruption institutions.

“We have so far kept faith with our promise and shall remain committed until Nigeria triumphs over the evil of corruption, attain a prosperous economic status, and surmounts her security challenges.

“However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes. It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the Government’s anti-corruption programme.

“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a Panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).

“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.

“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!” The President added that his desire is to make Nigeria a country that has no tolerance for corruption and one where the menace is vigorously battled.

“Corruption is present in all countries. Some governments treat it with levity. Some fight it all the time. I want Nigeria to be counted among those countries that do not tolerate but fight corruption,” he said.

In order to protect Nigeria’s political and economic systems, and the continuous existence of the Nigerian state from the threat of corruption, the President called on all stakeholders, and indeed every Nigerian to own the fight against corruption at their respective levels. Pledging that the fight against corruption is one that must be fought without fear or favour, President Buhari thanked members of the Commission for their dedication and commitment to the fight against corruption.

The statement also quoted Justice Salami as saying that Magu and 113 witnesses appeared and testified before the commission.

He was further quoted as adding that 46 petitions and memoranda were presented by individuals and organisations with complaints against the suspended acting Chairman, EFCC, or both.

Justice Salami disclosed that the commission also embarked on a nationwide physical verification of recovered forfeited assets, comprising real estates, automobiles, vessels, and non-cash assets.

He commended the President for the initiative to dispose of all forfeited assets “because of the poor condition of the assets we saw during our physical verification nationwide.”

“Noting that the four chairmen of EFCC since inception were from the police, the retired Justice of the Court of Appeal also recommended that in appointing a new chairman, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and a core staff of the EFCC as provided in the EFCC establishment Act of 2004.

“He expressed profound gratitude to the President for giving the Commission members a wonderful opportunity to serve the nation,” the statement added.

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