3 Times Buhari's Anti-Corruption Fight Has Been Questioned
When President Muhammadu Buhari finally occupied the highest office in the land after several attempts, many Nigerians were hopeful that corruption, which has been the bane of past administrations, will be nipped in the bud. This was because of Buhari's antecedents which pegged him as a non-supporter of corruption.
Buhari in the build up to the 2015 general election made the anti-corruption fight the bedrock of his campaign and as soon as he came into office, hit the ground running.
Some former public office holders were arrested, investigated and charged to court by the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The anti-corruption fight, which many had faulted for targeting only members of the opposition, seemed to be making some headway until recently when the president's allies started putting their hands in the cookie jar and the president seemingly turned the other eye.
Here are three of such cases
1) Reinstatement of Suspended NHIS Boss
The President on Wednesday came under severe criticism after he recalled the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Usman Yusuf, who was suspended by the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, on July 6, 2017.
Yusuf, who is being probed by the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, was accused of perpetrating fraud to the tune of 919 million Naira.
Health Minister Prof. Isaac Adewole had directed Yusuf to proceed on a three-month suspension with immediate effect.
The Minister also directed the setting up of an investigative committee to look in the various allegations in accordance with the Public Service Rules.
2) Maina's Re-absorption
If there is any scandal that has shaken this current administration the most, it has to be the Abdulrasheed Maina saga.
Investigations revealed that Abdulrasheed Maina, embattled former chairman of the Presidential Pension Task Team, was deeply involved in stealing over 2 billion Naira pension funds he was tasked with protecting by using staff under him and their associated persons and the “Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) contractors” to receive payment for non-existing biometric enrollment contracts, inflated contracts and “collective allowances” among other questionable payments worth hundreds of millions of naira which were remitted in cash to him.
It was also discovered that Maina was involved in a complex web of money laundering activities involving him, his family members, corporate entities and his account officers.
He fled the country in 2013 allegedly to Saudi Arabia but was secretly reabsorbed into the Ministry of Interior, and promoted with his full entitlements settled.
The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, had said that her office received copy of the letter from AGF to the Federal Civil Service Commission directing that Maina be reinstated.
Maina said his reinstatement started with a meeting with the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
His secret reinstatement outraged Nigerians and raised questions about the Buhari administration’s seriousness about tackling corruption.
3) Babachir Lawal - The Grasscutter
Former Secretary to Government of Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawla was accused of misappropriating funds intended for alleviating the food crisis in Nigeria's Northeast.
Over four months after his indictment by the Shehu Sani-led senate adhoc committee investigating the humanitarian crisis in the Northeast, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Babachir Lawal, was finally suspended.
Babachir thus became the first senior official in President Muhammadu Buhari's two-year-old administration to be suspended over corruption allegations.
The parliamentary committee on the "mounting humanitarian crisis in the Northeast" had accused the suspended SGF of holding directorship of a company, Rholavision, while being the SGF and used same company, originally registered for ICT services in 1990, to receive ‘grass-cutting’ consultancy contract from Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE).
The committee said his action violated Nigeria’s code of conduct for public officials. The committee also found out that the company received the money but did not execute the contract.
But Babachir denied all the allegations, saying they were balderdash and that the lawmakers were trying to embarrass the government of Buhari.
The senate then adopted the preliminary report and wrote to President Buhari asking him to sack the SGF.
But the presidency cleared him after the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami was asked to investigate him.
That development triggered backlash among opposition parties and civil society groups, accusing the administration of bias in its anti-corruption campaign.
Civil groups were concerned that these allegations were never referred to either by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), for investigations.
This attitude of Buhari’s administration fuelled speculation that its anti-graft war is partisan, targeting political opponents.
So we wonder, is the president carefully selecting his anti-corruption fights?
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