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How far can Buhari’s probe go?

By Sunny Igboanugo on 20/08/2015

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Nobody in his right senses will fail to notice that all is presently not well for Nigeria as a nation. And nobody who loves Nigeria will claim to love what is going on in the country at the moment. Clearly, there is danger in the air. The storms are gathering and the genuine fear of those who can read the signs is that the rain that is about to fall, is not the type which would water the ground and quench the thirst of the soil scorched by persistent dry weather. It is not the type that will feed the plants and make them grow and produce rich, fruitful crops.

The present storm is the type that will drop acid rain, which is capable of completely destroying the land and preventing the growth of the crops. This acid rain will leave the land without any meaning harvest. For acid rain is dangerous not only to plants and animals, it is dangerous to all forms of nature. 

Unfortunately, as it is with acid rain, the cause is usually man-made, because man, in his bid to tinker with ideas, does certain things that injure nature and in the end, earns the ample recompense in quantum. In the same manner, Nigeria is experiencing the same set of man-made activities, which will naturally poison the firmament and lead to the consequential droplets of danger.

Naturally, nobody would have expected President Mohammadu Buhari to keep quiet about the issue of corruption in Nigeria today. No, not with the way the phenomenon has eaten deep into the fabric and debased the very essence of the Nigerian nationhood. Certainly not with his personality and image, which he has worn like a second skin, since he came into the national consciousness full time as a Head of State after the Coup of 1983.

Nobody would have expected any less zestfulness from someone whose attempt to completely clean the Aegean stable, three decades ago, was truncated so abruptly, not to want to finish the project he started, especially when he had watched it completely taken over by maggots, slime and carcasses. Not with the emitting rancidity that has so fouled the air and made decent people out there avoid the Nigeria as a country.

So, his anger at the situation and the people that created it, his zeal and haste in dealing with the problem, are all quite understandable. But then is also the need not to damage the stable itself. For if the stable collapses due to the energy and fervour in cleaning it, the result could also be fatal. It is either a completely new one would have to be erected or the old one would be rebuilt, in which case, it would take more energy and more resources.

Is this not what some people are driving at in trying to throw a leash over the President’s anti-corruption campaign drive and the manner it is taking? Is this not the drift of the General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee (NPC), which visited him last week? Most certainly, yes.

Many people, either by deliberate misrepresentation or misinterpretation, unfortunately label this intervention as an attempt to stop the President from going after treasury looters or shielding certain blameworthy people from answering to their crimes. But except they possess the power of clairvoyance to glean into their inner minds, the position of the group, as adumbrated by its spokesman, Bishop Mathew Kukah, in words and meaning, is very clear. Yes, it is good to go after the money that was taken from the nation’s coffers and recover them, but be sure to leave the polity intact.

After all, was it not the late Justice Chukwudifu Oputa that defined the three legs of justice, which must be done and seen to be done in every case as justice to the accuser, accused and the society.


Today, the import of the late utmost legal mind resonates even to the man in a room with the doors and windows firmly closed. It is central to the current ricocheting noise between the All Progressives Congress (APC), on the one hand and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on the other, as well as supporters on both sides.

On Sunday the APC, intent on driving the agenda of probing the regime of President Goodluck Jonathan had released a very damning detail about what the figures allegedly stolen by its officials look like.

They include: N3.8 trillion out of the N8.1 earned from crude oil (2012-2015) withheld by NNPC, $2.1 billion from Excess Crude Account unaccounted for, Department of Petroleum Resources’ unremitted N109.7 billion royalty from oil firms, $6 billion allegedly looted by some ministers, 160 billion barrels of crude worth $13.9 billion lost between 2009 and 2012, $15 million from botched arms deal yet to be returned to Nigeria, $13 billion in NLNG dividends mostly unaccounted for, N30  rice waiver and N183 billion unaccounted for at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

This, obviously is part of the $150billion allegedly stolen by officials of the regime, for which Buhari, with the help of the US and other countries of the West, has vowed to recover. Who would not be angry with this sort of mindless looting, especially when Nigerians appear on television daily, soliciting for public funds to go to India to treat kidney, heart, liver and other related problems; when thousands of nationals lose their lives daily on bad roads; when thousands more die from fire from burst pipelines, while trying to scoop fuel, to be able to make ends meet? Who would not want those involved to be punished in the most deterrent manner?

But then, is that all there is to it? What about the argument that it is better for a 100 thieves to escape than one person to be unjustly punished for a crime or that every person is deemed innocent until a court of law says otherwise?

Beyond these two well-established dictums of law in Nigeria, how many people that would eventually be put on trial as a result of these revelations coming out of the presidency are likely to be set free when they have been labelled and pronounced guilty, before such trials? Would that not amount to making the President himself a liar for a judge to undo what the President has done? How many judges would have the courage to toe this line?

Would it not have been better for the President to pass this information to the relevant authorities for proper investigation and prosecution of those involved, whilst moving on with routine governance, instead of making it a presidential or APC affair, where all manner of people from Alhaji Lai Mohammed, APC spokesman to Adams Oshiomhole, Edo State Governor and the rest falling over themselves to indict individuals?

Again, if Oputa’s prescription is adopted as template for dispensing justice, would it be right for other perceived criminals, since crime is now a matter of perception to be seen milling around and mingling with the President, whilst others, because of their political leaning or other primordial sentiments languish in jail?

These are some of the germane questions that must be answered in assessing Buhari’s current anti-corruption drive. A person nursing the hurt of being singled out for punishment, could become a potential danger to the society, notwithstanding being guilty of the offence, because that in itself is injustice of another hue.

Of course, it is not as if the issue of fairness cannot be brushes aside, as so many people would want to and appear to be encouraging the President to do. But doing so could only result to one thing – impunity. And the result over the years, has shown that impunity has never been helpful. In fact, it is more dangerous than the ailment it is usually meant to cure.

Ask Malam Nuhu Ribadu, who during the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo, as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), practically broke every door with his leg in his alleged pursuit of economic criminals.

Indeed, Buhari does not even need to ask anybody. His own experience, in his first coming ought to be an ample lesson? Where did his jailing of Second Republic politicians, some to the ridiculous terms of 300 years leave the nation eventually? Did the country not know worse corruption immediately he left the scene?

There is something said about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Nothing says that the anti-corruption war would succeed less if adequate measures are taken to strengthen the institutions that would not only punish today’s culprits but deter potential ones.

The stealth movement of a tiger, does not in any way suggest cowardice. In getting the nation’s money back, which must be pursued with every zeal it deserves, efforts must be made to ensure that the ground does not suffer from the battle of the elephants or the impending acid rain is prevented. Because that cloth being eaten by a goat is owned by somebody.      



Posted on August, 20 2015

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