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Corruption: Before we crucify Bishop Kukah

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Nigeria is an interesting place. On March 31 2015, Nigerians hailed The Peace Accord Committee for persuading President Goodluck Jonathan to concede

defeat and congratulate his opponent, the All Progressives Congress’s candidate, Muhammadu Buhari.

ABOVE PHOTO: Members of the Peace Committee with Goodluck Jonathan on the day he conceded defeat. 

The peace committee had previously before March 28 met with the President as well as the APC candidate, before the elections and had ensured that both parties sign a peace accord, to ensure peace in the event of defeat on each side.

This ad hoc group of influential Nigerians, is now being accused of “parading the corridors of power of late, scheming to exploit its connections at the highest level of government to advance a suspicious agenda.” 

Led by a former head of state, Abdulsalami Abubakar, the NCP contingent met with President Muhammadu Buhari last week to “update him on the activities of the committee and how members could help nurture peace in the country.” 

This otherwise normal visit is now CONTROVERSIAL as many Nigerians say that while “the intention about peace is apparently noble, but the agenda of the committee is nebulous and its real motive is unclear and questionable.”

But what is the statements made after visit of the National Peace Committee to Buhari last week that has so angered a lot of people and that has inspired a bitter attack from THE PUNCH editorial board.

Bishop Matthew Kukah, who played a major role in setting up the committee to prevent post-election violence, said after the meeting: “I don’t think any Nigerian is in favour of corruption or is against the president’s commitment to ensuring that we turn a new leaf. I think what we are concerned about is process. It is no longer a military regime and under our existing laws everybody is innocent until proven guilty.”  

To many Nigerians that view Buhari as an INFALLIBLE MESSIAH, This commonsense statement appearing to suggest that Buhari is not going about the anti-graft war the right way is treason.

The Punch and their cohorts perceives the statement as an attempt by a “self-appointed group” in “its sanctimonious arrogance” to shield corrupt people from prosecution.

The committee — made up of eminent Nigerians such as Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, former head of state, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, sultan of Sokoto, and The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, prelate of the Anglican Church — is now being derided as “Corruption Amnesty Committee”.

According to Simon Kolawole, they are seen as trying to make a case for former President Goodluck Jonathan. The rumour is that Jonathan only conceded the 2015 election on the condition that he would not be probed. The committee, it is said, is trying to enforce this “agreement”.’

The fact however is that before now the search conducted on the residences of Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), former national security adviser was considered a refrain from our forgone era of military rule. The initial reports were that DSS operatives “invaded” or “raided” Dasuki’s residences in Sokoto and Abuja, and occupied them for hours. By breaking through the roof of Dasuki father’s house in Sokoto, the DSS were accused of high handedness.

We have to listen to Kukah specifically on the aspect relating to due process. Buhari’s entire anti-graft crusade can be derailed by overzealous government agencies. Buhari should take note of Kukah’s comments on due process and ignore the bit about probe not being part of governance.

Like the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, I support President Muhammadu Buhari to make sure that he prosecutes every person found to have looted the national treasury. He should not only prosecute the corrupt and ensure that the proceeds of their corruption are forfeited to the Federal Government but that such persons should be sent to jail.

I am 100 per cent in support of the fight against corruption in this country, and propose that all those found guilty should not only have their entire assets seized and forfeited to government but also face jail sentences.

However, Buhari should vigorously fight corruption with all his energy, but within the laws of the land.

Ogbuefi Ndigbo


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