The anti-corruption drive of Mr. President got more kudos upper week when the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, and Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr. David Babachir Lawal were both suspended. In some quarters, the suspension of these principal figures is long overdue as corrupt acts have been directed towards them. What did they do?
Oke was suspended over the $43 million, £27,000 and N23 million cash found in a luxury apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos. Lawal was suspended over involvement of his companies in the controversy surrounding the welfare of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the North-East. Earlier before now, allegations have been leveled against Lawal on the issue of mismanagement of IDPs’ finances.
To be honest enough, the Presidency has been trying as much as possible to fight corruption, which has been its main focus. On the other hand, it is just unfortunate that some entities are also trying as much as possible to frustrate the anti-corruption efforts. Oke, the NIA boss, had claimed the money belonged to his agency and was approved by the former President Goodluck Jonathan for some covert operation.
The Presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, said investigations are going on to find out the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds. It would also seek to discover how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA as well as to establish whether or not there has been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds. Is Nigeria a Sorry State?
As expected, reactions trailed their suspension. Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna) described the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir David Lawal as a welcome development. Sani’s committee had in December last year indicted Lawal in a grass cutting contract scandal worth N200m involving the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE). Who cuts grasses for that exorbitant amount? The Senate in a unanimous resolution requested President Buhari to sack the SGF. Until now, in a civilized society, the SGF should have been asked to resigned compulsorily; waiting till now is another means of embezzling public funds before they go.
Even beyond their suspension, are they going to go scot-free? Does that mean that if public officials are found wanting in any case, it is only their position that they forfeit? How about facing the wrath of law for their inhumane and unconstitutional behavior? If the SGF, for example, was a man of integrity, he should not have waited to be suspended, he should have asked the President to allow him step down for proper investigation.
It is a sad case that it is only in Nigeria that thieves are being glorified and celebrated. No wonder it is being said that, it is better to be a big thief, who steals millions, rather than a thief who steals little amounts.
Above all, the suspension of these men is “a right step in the right direction”. However, there shouldn’t be delay in adjudicating justice. As the case may be, it gives room for more stealing. Also, replacing these men shouldn’t engulf our precious time unnecessarily because we don’t want delay in governance. We, as active citizens should continue to demand fairness in governance. Also, proper security must be given to whistleblowers because it has exposed a whole lot of things since the whistle blowing policy gained relevance in the country.
We hope that as time goes by, more corrupt officials will be fished out and made to face the wrath of the law.
God bless Nigeria.