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Buhari insists war against corruption on course

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President Muhammadu Buhari

• SERAP wants high-level cases referred to International Criminal Court
President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration’s war against corruption is on course and maintained it was not a one-day job, but a “work in progress.”

Buhari, in an interview in the maiden edition of 2017 NIGERIA OUTLOOK, admitted that not everything was being got right, but “we shall get to where we are headed. Yes, we are succeeding in the anti-corruption war, cases are being investigated and those indicted are being prosecuted.

“The number of convictions is not within the ambit of the executive. Ours is to investigate and charge to court. It is the duty of the judiciary to convict. We can’t be prosecutor and jury at the same time,” the president told his interviewers: Reginald Ibe, the Publisher and Fola Arogundade, Editor-in-Chief.

Buhari also frowned at the suggestion that the presidency had attempted to teleguide the judiciary. “We respect the principle of separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution. We don’t teleguide the judiciary, and the onus is on that institution to do its work expeditiously.”

The President also said the Federal government will not retrench in the federal civil service. “There is a time for everything, this time of parlous economic reality is not the right time to send more people into the labour market.”

The President disclosed that his administration encountered a monthly wage bill of N165 billion when it came into office. Rather than downsize, he said his administration preferred to audit the system, thereby exposing thousands of ghost workers in the system.

Meanwhile, Lagos-based rights group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Federal Government to refer high-level official corruption cases to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation and possible prosecution.

This opinion, the group said, was predicated on string of court rulings against high-profile corruption cases in Nigeria last week.

Referring large-scale corruption cases to the ICC, SERAP said, would in the short-medium term improve deterrence and at the minimum demonstrate a symbolic commitment to confront grand corruption head on.

For instance, a Federal High Court, Lagos last week issued an order unfreezing the Skye Bank account of a former first lady, Patience Jonathan.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in November 2016 filed an application before the court seeking an order freezing the account, which is said to harbour the sum of $5.8 million.

Also, Justice Abulazeez Anka of the same court vacated a freeze order on the account of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, after initially ordering a temporary forfeiture of N75 million found in his Guarantee Trust Bank account.

Further, a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory discharged a judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja of all 18-count charges of fraud brought against him, his wife and a senior lawyer.


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