Corruption will continue to fight back but I won’t be deterred – Buhari

  • EFCC secures 486 convictions in 28 months – Magu
  • Buhari is not only Nigerian that is corrupt free – Speaker 
  • As pick pockets invade commissioning  

James Ojo and Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that  though corruption will continue to fight back, he will not be deterred.

The President’s statement comes on the heels of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) revealing that it has secured 486 convictions in two and half years.

In the same vein, Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara said that, though Buhari is globally acclaimed to be corruption free, he is not the only Nigerian with that distinction, saying that there are millions of Nigerians who are corrupt free.

“There are millions of Nigerians that have not bowed their knees to the god of corruption and that fact must be emphasized,” the Speaker said.

President Buhari made the declaration at the commissioning of the EFCC Headquarters.

Speaking off-the-cuff, the President said: “My last time to fight corruption, corruption fought back successfully. I was removed and detained for three years. I was in detention when my mother died. I was only released when she died, but that did not deter me. In spite of that, my objective of fighting corruption remains steadfast.”

The President went on to state that: “Throughout my journey in national service and since 2015, I have made a very conscious decision to pursue a vigorous fight against corruption in public life.

“Since 2015, we have made significant progress in the fight against corruption. Everyone now knows that corrupt officials will be held to account, no matter how long it takes. 

“We have recovered and are still recovering trillions of naira that were stolen in the past few years by people without conscience.

“We are pursuing recoveries everywhere and are making sure that anyone who has been found culpable is made to answer for his or her crime under the law.

“It is my hope and expectation that the judiciary, which is a critical stakeholder and partner in the war against corruption, would continue to collaborate with the Executive to bring corrupt people to book.”

The President also called on the Legislature, which provides the legal framework for the anti-corruption war, “to add more verve to the determination of government to rid our nation of the brazen corruption witnessed in recent years, through reviewing archaic provisions in our laws and proactive passage of new legislation.

“Ladies and gentlemen, an American author and philanthropist, Anthony Robbins, once said: ‘The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.’ He was saying, in other words, that if you are determined, no obstacle will be big enough to stand in your way. 

“What I see here is not only a structure of concrete and metal, I see in this edifice, the resolve of Nigerians to fight corruption. But structures are not the whole story. We must CHANGE our ways of handling public trust. Corruption not only kills governments but destroys societies. It is the major reason why we are struggling with basic developmental issues that other comparable nations have long overcome.

“War of corruption is not an easy one to fight, because it affects so many different branches of our lives, so much that some people do not even consider breaking trust is anymore a crime. It has become the norm. That is why we must fight this attitude and encourage Nigerians to CHANGE their attitudes and perspectives.

“The goal of this Administration is to ensure the protection of public trust, and the anti-corruption war is at its centre. We never intended, and we are not engaged in witch-hunts, but we are determined within the laws to call people to account.

“It is for this reason that we appeal to Nigerians to support regulatory agencies like Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, because fighting corruption is everyone’s concern. I call on the Judiciary and the National Assembly to join hands in this national effort.

“I am glad to note that quite a number of nations are signifying interest to help us tighten their laws and enter into agreements with Nigeria to repatriate not only stolen funds but to make the culprits face due process of law.

“We are committed to working with our foreign friends to stop the inflow of stolen funds from Nigeria into their countries and recovering what is there already.  These assets, when repatriated will be put to building our infrastructure.”

The Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, in his remark disclosed that the commission has said it has secured 486 convictions in two and half years.

He said “from January to date, we have secured 89 convictions, 486 convictions in two and half years and recovered over N500 billion.”

He also said the EFCC is also making giant stride in high profile cases, including for the first time a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) was convicted.

Magu said, “We don’t go against the innocent but after those who have stolen. 

“There is no better time than now to fight corruption so that the international community will no longer view Nigeria as fantastically corrupt.”

Magu who said the journey to the headquarters started 15 years ago, said the federal government provided all the funds for the project. “I’m glad that what began as an idea in 2005 has become a reality. 

“We owe the conducive environment to fight corruption to the political will of Mr. President. 

“This edifice can stand side by side with others in developed world.

Magu said the building will accommodate 700 staff, has state of the art forensic laboratory, health center to cater for the staff and suspects, car park can accommodate 400 cars.

According to him, “This will help us in our fight against corruption. We are determined to fight corruption because this has direct correlation with terrorism, human rights abuses etc. Nigeria must take ownership of the fight  against corruption. There is no hiding place for the corrupt.”

Magu  who commended Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and the judiciary for their support which has helped in the fight against corruption.

The fight against corruption is everybody’s fight and if we do so there will be no hiding place for the corrupt.

Dogara, in his remarks said the edifice was confirmation of President Buhari’s commitment in the fight against corruption.

According to him, the emphasis now should shift to the welfare of the officers and men the EFCC, in order for them not to fall into temptations.

He said, “With the commitment of Mr. President to fight corruption, anyone who has gone to the former head office of the EFCC and for someone visiting Nigeria for the very first time, the impression will be that the fight is a joke because we didn’t have a building that represented the seriousness with which we have taken the fight against corruption. And I am happy to say that Mr. President by this singular effort has shown or demonstrated that, he is putting money where his mouth is. I’m happy to say that it is with the support of the National Assembly that the funds were put together to complete this edifice. And, we will continue to support the fight against corruption.

“I made a statement last week that if infrastructures alone can fight corruption, then we can as well go home and say we have completed the fight against corruption.

“But, as important as this head office is, it is just like a computer, you can have a first class hardware but if the software is not good, you don’t have a computer.  So, emphasis must now move to those wonderful men and women who are sacrificing in other to fight against corruption. Of course we expect that the officers and men of the EFCC should be angels, that is not a  misplaced expectation except to remind us that angels inhabit the heavens, they don’t live in hell. And when you have an angel that is banished to hell, you have demons and demons cannot lead this fight, they will mess it up.

“So Mr. President, we have the responsibility to insulate the officers and men of this agency from temptation and that means we have to better their condition of service. 

“The last thing I will say is that this is where we must begin to change the narrative about corruption.

“The chairman made a statement about the reference that was made to Nigeria as fantastically corrupt country. Incidentally, that statement was made in a city that has won global acclaim as being the global headquarters of illicit financial fraud. Also, it has  been said in some quarters that Nigeria leads the world in criminal enterprise. As a matter of fact it’s been said in the University of Lagos that you can measure the credit card fraud.  That is the narrative out there. But that must change. 

“The fact that we have seated before us here a president who is globally acclaim as being corrupt free, I can tell you that he is not alone in Nigeria. There are millions of Nigerians that we come across day by day that are corrupt free.

“There is a representation of history, a prophet cried to God and that said he was the only one that has not bowed his knees to Baal but God replied that prophet that he has reserved in that city several prophets who have not bowed their knees to Baal. 

“There are millions of Nigerians that have not bowed their knees to the god of corruption and that fact must be emphasized.”

In her remarks, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Patricia Scotland, “It is a thing of pride that agency has recovered more money in one year than in 10 years. We hope this building will not only accommodate the angels but also send all the crooks to prison.”

Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, said “Friends and foes all agree that Buhari is hostile to corruption. This building must stand as a tribute for the sustained fight against corruption.

“The people who work from this building must be treasured and must be looked after properly so that they can do the job as angles. They must be empowered.”

Meanwhile, pick pockets dared the numerous security personnel deployed for the commissioning to make away with people’s phones one of them, a permanent Secretary in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation and a cameraman with ITV.

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