‘Buhari should focus more on institutions in his anti-graft war’
Samuel Adetuyi, a lawyer and security consultant was a retired Commissioner of Police who was at the forefront of the battle against militants, then as Rivers States’ police boss. In this interview with ABIODUN FANORO, he spoke on the legal framework for the fight against corruption.
The opposition says President Muhammadu Buhari is deceiving Nigerians by dwelling solely on corruption fights abandoning delivering on democracy dividends he promised…
THE government should priortise anti-corruption fight. The reason why Nigerians are not coming to terms with corruption is the fact that the term itself is nebulous; it’s not something you can clearly define.
We however know the manner it has set the country backward. If the figures we are reading in newspapers are anything to go by, then we know the huddles corruption has placed on the part of President Buhari to give good governance to Nigerians.
The fear is real, because funds that should be used for development, which will enhance the growth of the economy, are being stolen, so any president who does not put corruption in the front burner can never really succeed. And that is why we are having difficulties in the country today, because past government had not tackled corruption the way it should be tackled.
President Buhari has put visible structures in place to fight corruption and we could now see how things are being revealed every day. What we should do is give him support and help him to really purge this country of corruption.
Those complaining that the president is solely dwelling on anti-graft war without delivering on democracy dividends, President are the elites who are the prime beneficiaries of corruption. The ordinary man on the street that has been pauperized, who goes through life the hard way is applauding the president. We have seen how things are going. Now you can drive to any petrol station and buy fuel.
But some people are of the view that in the interest of comradeship, Buhari should not probe its predecessor.
For me as a person, the government can have its own target, if I were the president ordinarily, I will not set my dragnet against a particular person or administration because it will be difficult to get result quickly. My attitude is that searchlights be beamed on institutions and not necessarily individuals. If you want to take on a whole administration, where are the resources to do that? When people are to be targeted, it should not be directed at any political party, religion or ethnic group, the way the president is going about it, he has shown he is not sectional and that it is not a political game. Any one who is put on the radar, everything about him should be properly collated and within six months of being on trial his or her case is concluded. That is why I am in support of the special courts.
Looking at the sanctions for corruption, isn’t there the need to make it a capital crime as the Sultan of Sokoto and the Nigerian Labour Congress have advocated?
As far as I am concerned we have enough sanctions, the only problems If somebody has stolen money, charge him to court for stealing that takes him away for two to three years. But sometimes they call it misappropriation or mis-application of funds, call it stealing and charge the person to court for stealing. So, it is not the punishment that will serve the deterrent it is the fact that a person has been taken to court and convicted. We all know that if you have been convicted unless you are pardoned, you become an ex-convict. That is a sufficient deterrent.
Now that the special courts option is being considered, how should it be made very effective?
Again, if Nigerians are ready and determined to say we are rising up to stamp out corruption and it will be done. Of course, the law has its technicalities and the reason being that it is better that 100 accused persons to be freed than for one innocent person to be convicted, that is why the law has to go through a long process at times. We have all seen the effects in three months some anti corruption strategies President Buhari has put in place, we have seen the results, so, it is left for Nigerians to say yes, we want things to change as it is with the slogan of APC or we want to go back to what we were doing before.
Imagine what people are saying about the recent appointments by Buhari that they are for northerners that we must follow the federal character or ethnic balancing. We had followed federal character and have seen where we landed. This man has appointed his personal staff those he believes can help him deliver on his mandate and some Nigerians are running him down. Of course, we know those who talking, they are the elites who are just whipping up sentiments to be sure they derail the President.
Those who are benefiting from the status quo are the ones complaining, the ordinary man on the street is not complaining, the woman in the market is not complaining, the taxi driver is not complaining, the labourer is not complaining, those who are complaining are those who believe that something would soon hit them if things are done properly so they are afraid.
What should the President do in the areas of investigation and prosecution which are strategic to the success of special courts?
Of course every Nigerian must join hands to support the president or the government, you must appreciate the fact that, if you are investigating a case, whether it is a case of murder, stealing or corruption, the fact that somebody has been declared by everyone to be corrupt, is not enough to jail him, evidence on both sides would have to be weighed by the trial judge to arrive at his judgment. So it is investigative personnel in the police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and related crimes Commission or such other related investigative agencies that must do a thorough job, the witnesses must be willing and ready to give evidence in support of what they know. It is after everybody has done his own bit that the court will be able to arrive at a just and fair decision without much delay. It is not the court that will do the job of investigation.
Nobody is saying that somebody must be crucified if nothing is found against him. But where something is found, he must be prosecuted.
No doubt plea bargain may become an option when trial of corruption suspect begins. How should this be applied without Nigerians being short-changed?
Plea Bargaining has its own drawbacks just as it has its advantages. There is nothing wrong in plea-bargaining but the amount to be returned must be high enough to be almost equal to the amount stolen to show that the punishment has been given and it will serve as a deterrent to others.
There has been allegation in the past of money recovered but not properly accounted for. How should this be averted in this new dispensation?
I am sure that will not happen under President Muhammadu Buhari. I know that there is no way money will be recovered and will not be properly accounted for. That in itself will be robbing Peter to pay Paul and that will set us further back.
More than 100 days in office, Nigerians are becoming impatient. What is your take on that?
Well, I will just plead with Nigerians to be patient; they should remember that the president is elected for a term of four gears and he has just spent a hundred days. I think it is being naive as far as I am concerned to now begin to score him in 100 days in a term that is going to span four years. Against the backdrop of the problems on the ground, Boko Haram is there, corruption and electricity problem are there, we can’t get all these fixed in 100 days.
However anybody who looks at his body language and look at how things are being done now, will sincerely conclude that thing are facing up again and that they are moving again.
I have been at a programme where the President gave a keynote address (opening). The programme was to start by 10.00am, and the President was already seated by exactly 10.00am the programme was also scheduled to finish by12 noon and I think it was about 5 minutes after noon that the programme ended. We know now that there is paradigm shift from the way we have been doing things in the past. With what the president has been able to demonstrate in his first hundred days, the culture of governance he has brought, will you say Nigerians have cause to smile?
I believe we must key into his change programme, we must be part of the change irrespective of party leaning as the economy or power outage does not know party partisanship.