Anti-graft war: Buhari is lone ranger, says Falana

By Vincent Ikuomola

Activist-lawyer warns against using recovered loot to fund budget

President Muhammadu Buhari is a lone ranger in the fight against corruption, Lagos lawyer Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has said.

He warned the government against using recovered money to fund the budget.

Instead, Falana said the money should be placed in a special fund for specific projects like the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF).

The human rights activist spoke yesterday in Abuja at the National Stakeholders Summit on Whistleblowing organised by African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL).

Falana likened Buhari’s anti-graft war to a Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces without a troop behind him, a situation he described as a limitation.

To buttress his point, he cited the many cases of corruption allegations that had come up under the administration.

He said: “The bulk of allegations that is oozing out of Villa are disturbing. You must understand the limitation of the ongoing war by the All Progressives Congress (APC). In fact, as far as many people are concerned, our President is a Commander-in-Chief without troops behind him.”

He added that the President is facing a contradiction just as he did in 1983.

His words: “He wanted to fight corruption and unfortunately, he ran into contradiction as he is already running into now. Some of the people serving under him didn’t believe in the fight against corruption. So, they expose him to ridicule and that is what is going on now.”

Citing the outcry of the President’s wife over the situation of the Presidential Villa’s Clinic, which got a budget of N3 billion and yet had no single syringe, Falana said: “If you watch closely what is going on, the bulk of allegations of corruption against the government are oozing out from the Villa and other places.”

He chided the handling of whistleblowing policy.

The senior lawyer said 10 whistleblowers had either been sacked or charged to court.

Falana noted that if the country wants to fight corruption, the whistleblowing programme should be moved out of the Ministry of Finance.

“I am sure you all already know the Ikoyi cash scandal. The man, who gave the information to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was detained by the Directorate of State Services (DSS). As if that was not enough, he was taken to Yaba Psychiatric Hospital. For him to be demanding for five per cent of $43 million (N14billion), he must be a mad man. So, the government took him to Yaba; he was admitted. He told the doctors that I am not mad; they are owing me money based on their own policy.”

Noting that the war against corruption was been prosecuted very well, he, however, doubted the sincerity of the three tiers of government in the fight.

He said: “Out of the 774 local government areas in the country, no one is fighting corruption. Out of the 36 states governors, no one is fighting corruption. So, the task ahead of us is herculean.

“You will be surprise to know that none of the states controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC) is fighting corruption anywhere. The National Assembly as you know has frustrated all bills drafted by the executive and submitted to them to aid the fight against corruption. Therefore, the fight ahead of us is monumental.”

He described Okorocha’s recent reception for South Africa President as an insult to Nigeria.

To make the whistleblower policy work, Falana suggested that the whistleblowing unit, which is warehoused in the Ministry of Finance, be moved away from there and be put under an independent body.

AFRICMIL Coordinator Mr. Chido Onumah said the summit was aimed at interrogating the whistleblower policy.

The summit with the theme, “Fight against corruption: Harnessing the whistleblowing opportunity”, according to Onumah, was one of the many interventions under the project to ensure protection for whistleblowers.

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who was the chairman of the event, warned that corruption still remains the country’s greatest enemy.

He said it was not out of place for government to provide little incentives for whistleblowers.

Culled from thenationonlineng.net

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