By Patience Danjuma
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday declared a national emergency on corruption, challenging institutions, agencies and individuals to reverse the negative culture of pilfering public funds. This is even as he signed an Executive Order seeking to restrain owners of assets under probe from carrying out further transactions on such properties.
Speaking at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the President said he chose to sign the Executive Order so as to stop owners of the assets from using their proceeds to pervert justice.
“Like I have said many times, if Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will sooner or later kill Nigeria,” Buhari said.
“It has thus become necessary to re-kit and re-tool our arsenal to be able to effectively tackle corruption’s perilous counter-attack against the Nigerian state. Accordingly, the federal government of Nigeria has declared a national emergency to deal with that crisis.
“In this regard, the federal government of Nigeria in line with its anti-corruption strategy seeks to ensure that justice is not defeated or compromised by persons involved in a case or complaint of corruption.”
The president said the viability and continuous well-being of the nation faces enormous threat from corruption.
“Whilst there are many reasons why Nigeria has been struggling; regrettably, the most unfortunate cause of great disparity between Nigeria’s wealth and its poverty is endemic corruption,” he said.
“It is in consequence of this that I have decided to issue the Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 to inter alia restrict dealings in suspicious assets subject to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption in order to preserve such assets from dissipation, and to deprive alleged criminals of the proceeds of their illicit activities which can otherwise be employed to allure, pervert and/or intimidate the investigative and judicial processes.
“Or for acts of terrorism, financing of terrorism, kidnapping, sponsorship of ethnic or religious violence, economic sabotage and cases of economic and financial crimes, including acts contributing to the economic adversity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and against the overall interest of justice and the welfare of the Nigerian state.”
Buhari said the real battle against corruption will be heightened by the strengthening of policies and institutions, saying his administration had achieved milestones with multi-sectoral reforms on anti-corruption including the enforcement of Treasury Single Account (TSA), strict implementation of the Bank Verification Number Policy and Signing of the Open Government Partnership.
“There is also a very strong link between corruption, peace and security. Unfortunately, corruption is everywhere; at all levels of government, and every stratum of our society. Without doubt, corruption constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the well-being, national security, and economy of Nigeria,” he said.
“From available records, the aggregate value of funds involved in some on-going prosecution of high profile corruption related cases stands at N595,409,838,452.25k.
“This amount is in excess of the N500 billion approved for Social Investment Programme in the 2018 budget, which sum would be applied to cater for home grown school feeding programme, government economic empowerment programme, N-Power Job Creation Programme, Conditional Cash Transfers, etc. Cumulatively, scores of millions of Nigerian citizens would benefit from those programmes.
“To further put things in perspective, the highest appropriation in the 2018 budget in the sum of N344billion went to the Ministry of Works for construction and rehabilitation of several roads nationwide.”
The President listed roads that will benefit from monies recovered from corruption cases to include Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriageway; Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa Bokani Road; Abuja-Abaji Road; Kano –Maiduguri Road; Enugu-P/Harcourt Dual Carriageway; Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Road; Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-
He said all the roads are expected to be either constructed or repaired with equivalent of about 57% of the monies recovered by some of the on-going high profile corruption related cases.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the proceeds of corruption had been used to undermine the growth of the economy, and heighten the insecurity in the country.
He said the fight against corruption would be difficult except policies and institutions were strengthened.
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