Thou Shall Not Steal: Whither the National Peace Committee?

By Josef Omorotionmwan

THOU shall not steal”. As expressed in the telling chapters of the Bible, this is the eighth Commandment of God, the disobedience of which has, from early times, been visited with grave consequences as happened when King Ahab of Israel and his wife, Jezebel, caused Naboth the Jezreelite to be stoned to death so that they could take his land (I Kings 21:1-19). By God’s decree, Ahab and Jezebel were paid back in their own exact coins.

In a recent Message, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, dwelt exhaustively on this subject. He observed that it is now common for people to rebrand a particular evil so that the full weight of the evil is not felt by their conscience.

Adeboye, however, maintained that rebranding prostitutes as commercial sex workers or calling the sexually transmitted disease “gentleman’s disease” would not change them from what they are before God.

Similarly, describing stealing as “taking” does not make it less evil and removing stealing from the corruption bracket would not alter the equation either. Anything you take without the permission of its rightful owner is stealing.

Initially, President Muhammadu Buhari was intent on making a clean start, without looking at the past. But a peep into the books soon revealed how the nation’s patrimony was shared among a few people under former President Goodluck Jonathan, to the extent that some of those individuals became richer than the Federal Government.

And here was Buhari who was elected on the solemn pledge to reduce corruption to the barest minimum and to make the path to corruption unattractive. It therefore became incumbent on him to probe further into the Jonathan administration.

Objections began to come in from various directions. To Jonathan and his co-travellers, Buhari’s war against corruption is good but it should not be limited to Jonathan’s administration. Buhari should go back to 1999.


The idea here was to push Buhari into a wild goose chase; and let him spend his entire tenure investigating others without executing his own programmes.

These advocates of backward integration are perhaps unaware that probes are not time-barred. Otherwise, they would have been pushing Buhari to take his probe back to 1960, our year of independence or, better still, to the 1914 amalgamation!

Many Nigerians are uncomfortable with the fact that for some time now, President Buhari has been receiving visitors ostensibly on matters related to his plans to expose those who fiddled with the nation’s wealth. During the visit of former President Jonathan, he was reported to have brought up the ordeal of his former aides in the hands of security agencies – former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; the former Chief Security Officer, Gordon Obua; and some of the Ministers – who are said to have been invited as a probe has been launched for large-scale malfeasance under Jonathan.

Thereafter, the General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee went to Aso Rock Villa to confer with Buhari. From the innuendos and insinuations of the Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah, it was clear that the Committee had mediated at the instance of Jonathan.

FILE: PEACE COMMITTEE—President Muhammadu Buhari flanked by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Sultan of Sokoto (5th R) while Chairman, National Peace Committee, Gen. Abdulasalami Abubakar (4th L); President, Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor (4th R); Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah (2nd L); the Catholic Bishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan (3rd R); former president, Nigerian Bar Association, Mrs. Priscila Kuye (3rd L); Primate of All Nigeria Anglican Communion, Bishop Nicholas Okoh (2nd R); Retired Justice Rose Ukeje (R) and Publisher of Vanguard, Mr. Sam Amuka (L) with others during an audience with President Buhari at the State House, Abuja, yesterday. Photo: Abayomi Adeshida.

Kukah insinuated that President Buhari should spend more time addressing the country’s problems, reiterating that, after all, Jonathan deserves commendation for his “spectacular act” of conceding defeat at the March presidential election. He subtly upbraided Buhari for “frittering away” the goodwill engendered by Jonathan’s concession.

We have no objection to the Committee but it is unacceptable that a matter that came up during the election and on which the electorate spoke out loud and clear should be made a subject of undue interference, particularly after the inauguration of the administration.

President Buhari solicited for, and got, the support of Nigerians in the fight against corruption. He is on the right path. We commend his resolve to take those against whom prima facie cases have been established speedily through the courts. That is what Nigerians are looking forward to. Let no one derail this move. Anyone asking the President to soft-pedal on this fight certainly means harm for the nation. Such is worthy of condemnation in heaven and on earth and in all Nigerian languages!

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We also commend President Buhari for setting up the Prof. Itse Sagay Advisory Committee against Corruption. This Committee will provide the balancing-act and the necessary intellectual input.

The National Peace Committee must be reminded that its time is up. This is an ad-hoc Committee that was self-appointed. Admittedly, it did a good job. But it has since accomplished its task.

Naturally, the law of diminishing utility has set in and the Committee has largely outlived its usefulness.

For effect, the Committee should know that the time has come to disband itself so that members could retain what remains of their self-respect.

The idea of conceding defeat is novel in Nigeria and it is good. But let no one stretch it beyond reason. After all, in the face of civilisation, what is so spectacular about a defeated person accepting defeat in just the same way that a winner accepts victory? Shall we continue to celebrate the loser over and above the winner who is also magnanimous in victory? Or, was there a pre-arrangement that the loser should not accept defeat? Should his concession now become atonement for all iniquities?

Is the anointing still flowing? It is in Nigeria’s larger interest that those Bishops do not abdicate the business of soul-winning and soul-saving. Rather than engaging in the misadventure of “Pull-Buhari-Down”, they should embrace the Adeboye-type crusade of spreading the gospel of “Thou shall not steal” because the soul that steals shall certainly die!

History shows no mercy for duplicity. The problem before Nigeria today is of epic proportion and failure is not an option. All Nigerians of goodwill must support President Buhari in his effort to trace and return to the Nigerian people all monies stolen from them by officials of the Jonathan administration.

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