President Muhammadu Buhari’s war against corruption has faced numerous attacks in recent times. The opposition party (People’s Democratic Party, PDP) has accused him of persecuting key members of the opposition while a ‘human rights’ group appealed to the international community to check Buhari’s ‘human rights abuses’.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) rejects these allegations. They are baseless, unfounded and outrageous. They exist only in the figment of the sponsors’ imagination. We strongly condemn attempts by corrupt politicians and stomach infrastructure ‘human rights’ groups to frustrate the war against corruption.
We remind Nigerians that Buhari won the presidential election because he was a candidate of uncompromised integrity. He was given a mandate to clean up the mess created by 16 years of PDP’s misrule, reckless extravagance, corruption nulli secundus and impunity primus inter pareil whose crumbling edifice was capped by the cluelessness of the last regime.
Nigeria was in such a bad shape that Transparency International ranked her the most corrupt country in year 2000, second most corrupt country in 2003 and third most corrupt in 2004. Just yesterday (2nd December, 2015) Nigeria came second behind South Africa in corruption ranking.
The indices are not so favourable at present to allow us to indulge corrupt politicians or nurse any sympathy for them. In spite of our massive oil wealth, 100 million Nigerians live below poverty line. The average Nigerian lives on less than $1 per day. Per capita income is less than $300. Nigeria was adjudged the 26th poorest country in 2002 and the 20th hungriest in the world in 2009.
Yet the bane of Nigeria’s development is corruption. It is the raison d’etre for our epilectic power supply, the death traps which we call roads, the public mortuaries which we call hospitals and the roadside carpenters’ workshops which we call laboratories in our universities!
The only way to get our infrastructure working is to eliminate corruption or to reduce it to its barest minimum. But to our greatest shock and disappointment, a so-called human rights group recently started shedding crocodile tears and defending the indefensible when the time came to seize corruption by the jugular.
Is it not a crime against the innocent citizens of Nigeria for any public officer to divert money intended for buying arms for our gallant soldiers who are fighting Boko Haram to somewhere else? Is it not criminal to deny our soldiers the much needed arms and ammunition thereby causing the death of many of them and allowing insurgents to kill and maim innocent Nigerians? Was it fair to have allowed Nigerians to label their own soldiers cowards on account of their fleeing from insurgents?
Was it not because they were not properly equipped that they were constrained to tactically withdraw? Was it not on account of this ‘tactical withdrawal’ that some of our soldiers were tried and sentenced to death? Should we then allow those behind the diversion of military funds to go scot free? Why then is a ‘human rights’ group accusing Buhari of human rights violations just because the President wants to ensure that those responsible for the massive fraud are accountable?
Can we now see the new vigour in the military after the new Buhari regime ensured that the suitable equipment was supplied? Only one local government remains in the hands of insurgents as at today. The pendulum has also swung. Boko Haram is on the run and our gallant soldiers are in pursuit.
The Boko Haram phenomenon would have become history long before now if our soldiers had been properly armed and it was those who diverted defence funds to private pockets who made it impossible to properly equip our soldiers.In other words, corrupt politicians weakened our soldiers to the advantage of Boko Haram and allowed the latter to perpetrate all those atrocities. What do we expect Buhari to do with such corrupt individuals? Garland them with roses? Give them national honours? No, criminals must be treated as criminals.
We can understand if PDP treats them as heroes. The party is simply staying in character. But it is shameful and despicable for any member of civil society to extenuate the offence of those traitors. More worrisome is the attempt to rewrite history by accusing Buhari of human rights abuse over attempts to get thieves to render account. No genuine human rights group will behave like an accomplice of kleptomaniacs. Corruption is fighting back and it is a pity that some members of civil society have become willing tools in the hands of this hydra-headed monster.
We appeal to members of the judiciary, lawyers, the press and Nigerians in general to be wary of the antics of corrupt politicians. Nigerians must be united in this struggle for the war against corruption to succeed. For instance, Nigerian judges must be ponder why those facing corruption charges always suddenly remember that they need to travel abroad for medical attention? Why must those convicted for corruption spend their jail terms in hospitals for ‘illnesses’ concocted after the commencement of trials?
Granting permission for such trips amount to frustration of the war against corruption. The bench must be firm. Corrupt politicians seek to travel abroad in order to temporarily escape justice, dig in deep, hide their loot properly and plot their big comeback to continue their reign of financial terrorism.
Nigerians need the full support of the National Assembly at this crucial period. Corrupt politicians are smart Alecs and our lawmakers must seek to outsmart them. We need a bill that will make it virtually impossible for anyone facing criminal charges, no matter how highly placed, to travel outside the country under whatever guise.
We urge the international community to ignore the rantings of agents of corrupt politicians. Western countries are advised to check the credibility of those accusing President Buhari of human rights abuse through their embassies in the country. Parasites and mushrooms must not be mistaken for plants which bear good fruits.
We have a president who has an unbeatable pedigree. We have full confidence in him and we call on the international community to give him every necessary support in the war against corruption and the fight against terrorism. We affirm that corrupt politicians are also financial terrorists. In fact, they are the root cause of the terrorism in form of Boko Haram.
We charge Nigerian judges, lawyers and the National Assembly to plug all holes in the war against corruption. We call on civil society to look beyond the smokescreen and the sentiment so that they can appreciate the dilemma facing the country. We will not have good roads, qualitative education, stable power supply, etc until corruption is nipped in the bud.
In conclusion, we warn that corrupt politicians are out to wreck the boat. All hands must therefore be on deck. It is not about violation of human rights or persecution of members of the opposition. It is about salvaging Nigeria. We should not allow anybody to hide under the canopy of human rights abuse after stealing our common wealth. It is about Nigeria and Nigeria is the dot in the com.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
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