The Chairman, Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla, has accused Nigerians of refusing to support the anti-graft crusade of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The presidential aide spoke on a Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, on Thursday.
Reacting to the Nigerian Corruption Survey 2017 published by the National Bureau for Statistics, which states that Nigerians paid bribes to the tune of N400bn between 2015 and 2016, Obono-Obla said, “It is chilling, daunting, outrageous and shocking but I am not surprised because corruption has become pandemic and endemic. Most Nigerians are pathologically corrupt.
“This government wants to fight corruption but what is the challenge? Nigerians do not want to support the fight against corruption; the judiciary and the legislature do not want to support the fight against corruption. It is as if only the President and the Vice-President are in support of the war against corruption.”
Obono-Obla said Nigeria had laws that could be used in jailing corrupt people but past governments were not brave enough to take the bull by the horn.
He said the Recovery of Public Property Special Provisions Act Cap R4 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had existed since 1983 but had never been used by any government to tackle corruption.
The presidential aide added, “The law we are using to fight corruption now has been in effect since 1983 but that law has not been used by successive governments because these successive administrations did not have the will, did not have the commitment or dedication to fight corruption and this government has gone into the archives to exhume that law to fight corruption and the law is very strict and maybe that is why successive administrations did not use that law in fighting corruption. That law predates the EFCC and ICPC Act.”
Also in an interview with one of our correspondents, Obono-Obla scolded ex-President Goodluck Jonathan for claiming he fought corruption, saying his administration was “scandalously corrupt.”
“Why is this man blowing hot and cold? Anyone blowing hot and cold is not a man of integrity. Anyone who doesn’t speak the truth is not a man of integrity. More than N500bn was stolen by officials of his government. That was why Nigeria went bankrupt. That was why more than $48bn that was left by the Musa Yar’Adua’s government was squandered.
“If $48bn was intact, we would not be looking for money to do railway from Lagos to Calabar and from Lagos to Kano and so on and so forth. The stolen money would have been used to cushion the effects of the drastic fall in oil prices, which is the mainstay of our economy.
“We know that his government was chronologically and scandalously corrupt. There is no doubt about it. The evidence is in Jonathan’s Petroleum minister and the few billions of naira we have seized from her property. That property is more than the budgets of the northern states put together in four years. So, what is he talking about? There was unemployment, fuel scarcity and a lot of money was stolen under his watch,” he said.