'Buhari should probe Jonathan'

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A coalition of civil society organisations in the country on Tuesday alleged that former President Goodluck Jonathan, deliberately embarked on policies that directly promoted corruption and impunity in public offices during the six years that he administered the affairs of the country.

They therefore said it would be a great disservice to the entire Nigerian populace if his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari, heeded the advice of those asking that Jonathan should not be probed and brought to book.

The CSOs, which jointly addressed a press conference in Lagos, admitted that corruption in public offices did not begin under Jonathan, but they described the Jonathan’s era as one during which “Nigeria literally became a looting field;where big thieves became bigger; where new and powerful thieves were created; and where big, destructive ‘rats’ and ‘termites’ were unleashed on the nation’s treasury.”

According to them, this was able to happen because Jonathan incapacitated all anti-corruption institutions and put them to sleep with his “corruption-compliant body language and his several pronouncements that ‘Stealing is not Corruption.'”

The groups, whose jointly endorsed statement was read by Mr. Olarenwaju Suraj of Civil Society Coalition Against Corruption, said Nigeria’s dream of development would never be achieved so long as high profile thieves continued to parade the political space, as leaders, with impunity.

They urged Buhari to do something urgently before corruption killed Nigeria.

They, however, warned the President that as he fought corruption, he should expect corruption to fight back, citing as example the call on him by members of the National Peace Committee, including Father Matthew Kukah and Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, not to probe Jonathan.

“They said that the anti-corruption war should start from Nigeria’s independence; from Tafawa Balewa’s government and to encompass all former federal, regional and state governments. Our response to this demand and opinion, unfortunately, being led by former President Jonathan, is that that is a recipe for a do-nothing agenda against corruption.

“A serious nation must start corruption fight from somewhere concrete. Instead of running after dead leader’s records of service, a serious government must commence its probe with the record of service of its immediate predecessor and in the course of this findings from such a probe may ultimately lead to further probe of previous administrations. That is common sense,” they said.

The CSOs urged the Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar-led National Peace Committee not to create a hullabaloo in the country with its attempt to derail Buhari from delivering on the promise he made to Nigerians, while seeking their votes, that he would fight corruption.

They urged the NPC to take its “due process crusade” to the various prisons in Nigeria where “petty thieves and suspects are languishing in jail” as victims of “undue process of the warped justice system.”

They also said Buhari was right to first deal with corruption, saying “even the fastest runner in the world, Usain Bolt, would not hit the ground running when the pitch is slippery.”

Apart from CSCAC, others who signed the statement were Adeola Soetan of Democracy Vanguard, Debo Adeniran of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Wale Adeoye of Journalists for Democratic Rights and Sina Odugbemi of Value and Integrity Group.
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