Orji Kalu: Buhari Vows to Win the Fight against Corruption

President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated the commitment of his administration to win the war against corruption.  He gave the assurance at a one-day anti-corruption summit, organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in collaboration with Nigeria Shippers’ Council (NSC) in commemoration of this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day, which comes up every December 9.

According to the president who was represented at the event which took place at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja, by the minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari, “the cardinal objective of this government is to wage a vigorous war against corruption; a war we are committed to not just fight, but also to win decisively.”

Buhari described the summit, which was organized with a special focus on the country’s maritime and transport sectors as a step in the right direction, noting that the initiative complements the various programmes being implemented by his administration to block leakages and improve transparency in all sectors, with the aim of boosting revenues in critical sectors of the Nigerian economy.

He commended the EFCC and the Shippers’ Council for organising the summit, which he observed was for the enthronement of probity, transparency and accountability in this vital artery of the economy.

Speaking on the theme: “Zero Tolerance to Corruption: A Clarion Call,” the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, regretted that corruption “has created multi-dimensional crises across the globe.  It has put families on deprivation, poverty and has exposed individuals to unexpected insecurities leading to frustration and sufferings.”        

Despite the challenges and antics of the corrupt, Magu restated the readiness of the EFCC to battle corruption to its knees in the country, citing the Commission’s victory over the former governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, few days ago, as a pointer to the Commission’s relentlessness determination to ensure that the corrupt would not go unpunished.

“Those who doubt our resolve would soon come to terms with the fact that the EFCC will never give up the fight against corruption. We will never give up, even with corruption fighting back and all the daunting challenges.

“Our determination and faith in what we do, was aptly demonstrated last week when, after 12 years of legal technicalities that took us to the Supreme Court and back, the long convoluted trial of former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu was brought to closure, with his conviction and sentence to 12 years imprisonment without option of fine for stealing over N7billion from the treasury of Abia State. It brings to three, the number of former state governors that were convicted of corruption.

“Our success lies in our commitment to strict adherence to the rule of law and the National Anti-corruption Strategy, the African Union Convention Against Corruption, as well as the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, (UNCAC),” Magu stated.

While recounting the successes of the Commission, Magu revealed that the EFCC in the last four years has secured remarkable convictions and recoveries, through conviction-based and non-conviction-based forfeitures.

“The cumulative value of recoveries by the Commission runs into hundreds of billions of naira, millions of dollars and other foreign currencies. In the Port Harcourt Zone of the EFCC, a total of 244 trucks were forfeited to the federal government, owing to illegal oil bunkering activities in the region.  Furthermore, vessels on the nation’s maritime waterways, filling stations, schools and even hospitals that were illegally acquired have also been forfeited to the federal government,” he said. 

He further stated that the successes of the Commission have been more remarkable in last four years especially with high profile cases and convictions, which include those of politically exposed persons, former governors; captains of industry, oil subsidy merchants and scores of players in the private sector.  “Former military chiefs and civil servants have also been convicted, as well as many illegal oil bunkerers in the Niger Delta.  For the records, we secured the following convictions in the last four years: 2015 – 103; 2016 – 189; 2017 -190; 2018 -312 and 2019 (as at January to November) – 1,070 and still counting,” Magu stated.

In his goodwill message, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka called for the sensitisation of the society in the fight against corruption as well as stiffer penalties for looters of public funds.

Mr. Sunday Dare, Minister for Youths and Sports called for the anti-corruption searchlight to be extended to all sectors of the economy. “The searchlight and the radar are already on the sports sector. I hope it will extend to other sectors; to education, health and with this together we will burst corruption.”

United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres who was represented by the Resident Coordinator of the UN, Edward Callum called for collaboration among stakeholders in the anti-corruption fight. “Corruption threatens the health of the  society, we must kill it in Nigeria. I urge people everywhere to come together to end corruption.”

Professor Jega commended the EFCC for its successes in the fight against corruption. “I must commend the EFCC for its very commendable efforts in tackling this cankerworm. I urge them not to rest in their oars because the more the effort, the more daunting it becomes.”

On her part, Abike Dabiri Erewa, chairman/chief executive officer, Nigerian Diaspora Commission thanked the EFCC for providing a Diaspora anti-corruption desk in the EFCC, and called on the youth to join the fight against corruption. “Every Nigerian youth should join the fight against corruption.  We are working with the EFCC at Nigerians Diaspora  Commission to provide us with a desk. Those living in the diaspora can willingly and without fear send their money home and come and invest.”

A special feature at the event was the unveiling  of the book edited by Professor Attahiru Jega, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), entitled:  “Curbing Electoral Spending,”  a compendium of presentations at the 2019 Democracy Day Anti- corruption Summit.

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