Spot­light­ing the anti-graft war

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - By Us­man Kawu Jalo

Nige­ria may not have at­tained her de­sired eco­nomic mileage un­der Muham­madu Buhari’s slightly a year over ad­min­is­tra­tion given the myr­iad of eco­nomic chal­lenges con­fronting the na­tion at this crit­i­cal mo­ment of her his­tory.

They are chal­lenges are not in any way in­sur­mount­able if right poli­cies are ini­ti­ated and this is ex­actly what the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion is do­ing with the econ­omy; firstly by in­tro­duc­ing an in­clu­sive pol­icy that tar­gets econ­omy di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion .

One in­dis­putable area his ad­min­is­tra­tion has scored re­sound­ing achieve­ment is the anti- graft fight. A met­tle­some and mar­tinet per­son­al­ity that ab­hors cor­rup­tion in what­ever guise, Buhari’s un­wa­ver­ing rep­u­ta­tion as an in­cor­rupt­ible Nige­rian is one huge as­set in his ar­chive that no Nige­rian, in­clud­ing his crit­ics could chal­lenge.

How­ever, there is a snag, ap­par­ently slow­ing down pres­i­dent’s anti- graft war. The Pres­i­dent may not be aware of this clog slow­ing down the anti- cor­rup­tion wheel. Few of his clos­est han­dlers whose pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­ity it is to draw pres­i­dent’s at­ten­tion to such an im­por­tant lapse, won’t let him know be­cause of their pe­cu­niary in­ter­est.

The me­dia is re­cently awash with re­ports sug­gest­ing that the fi­nal re­port by mem­bers of pres­i­den­tial com­mit­tee on arms pro­cure­ment that un­earthed dis­cov­er­ies re­lat­ing to how the arms pro­cure­ments funds were di­verted is ready.

The con­tent of the re­port in its orig­i­nal form al­legedly in­dicts some top of­fi­cers of the pres­i­dent’s cab­i­net. This un­set­tles the clique, mak­ing them very un­com­fort­able.

While the Pres­i­dent may want the re­port to be pre­sented to the pub­lic and had in­structed his me­dia team to make the re­port pub­lic; few in­ner cir­cle han­dlers coun­seled against this de­ci­sion. They sug­gested to the Pres­i­dent that the re­port needed to be re­viewed be­fore pre­sen­ta­tion. The cru­cial as­sign­ment of re­view­ing the re­port is as­signed to the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari . It’s at the dis­cre­tion of Chief of staff who is at a lib­erty to mod­er­ate or out rightly black out any sec­tion he con­sid­ered of­fen­sive.

Mem­bers of the arms pro­cure­ment panel set up by the Of­fice of Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser to the Pres­i­dent in­clude, Air Vice Mar­shal J.O.N. Ode (rtd.) - Pres­i­dent, Rear Ad­mi­ral J.A. Aikhomu (rtd.) - Mem­ber, Rear Ad­mi­ral E. Og­bor (rtd.) - Mem­ber, Brig Gen L. Adek­a­gun (rtd.) - Mem­ber, Brig Gen M. Aminu-Kano (rtd.) - Mem­ber, Brig Gen N. Rimtip (rtd.) - Mem­ber, Com­modore T.D. Ikoli - Mem­ber, Air Com­modore U. Mo­hammed (rtd.) Mem­ber, Air Com­modore I. Shafi’i - Mem­ber, Col A.A. Ariy­ibi - Mem­ber, Group Capt C.A. Ori­aku (rtd.) Mem­ber, Mr. Ibrahim Magu (EFCC) Mem­ber, and Brig Gen Y.I. Sha­langwa - Sec­re­tary.

While the panel had un­hin­dered ac­cess ver­i­fy­ing files, doc­u­ments of ev­ery other arms of the mil­i­tary lead­ing to un­earthing of huge di­ver­sion of funds by some mil­i­tary top brass that are now fac­ing var­i­ous cor­rupt charges by the EFCC, that of the Nige­ria Army was re­sisted. The pro­cure­ment by the army be­tween 2007 and 2010, was the the pe­riod the present Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Bu­ratai held sway as pro­cure­ment pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer. The panel had hec­tic time car­ry­ing out the ver­i­fi­ca­tion of pro­cure­ment done by the army.

Among vo­cal mem­bers of the pro­cure­ment panel that re­sisted the plot by pow­er­ful el­e­ments in pres­i­dent’s in­ner cir­cle to halt in­ves­ti­ga­tion of pro­cure­ment in the army is Air Com­modore Umar Mo­hammed (rtd).

Re­cent re­ports in the me­dia linked Umar Mo­hammed’s cur­rent tra­vails in the hands of se­cu­rity op­er­a­tives as a pun­ish­ment for his rigid stance that panel must ver­ify pro­cure­ment done by the army.

The ar­rest of Air Com­modore Umar Muhammed (rtd) by the op­er­a­tives of the Depart­ment of State Ser­vice (DSS) for al­leged of­fences which in­cluded pos­ses­sion of arms and dis­cov­ery of cash in the sum of $1.5 mil­lion in his Maitama res­i­dence may have been a hatchet job , a plot framed by few ca­bal in the in­ner cir­cle to get back at Umar for in­sist­ing pro­cure­ment in the army be­tween 2007-2010 when Gen. Bu­ratai was in charge of pro­cure­ment be in­ves­ti­gated by the panel.

While the DSS has a supreme obli­ga­tion to in­ves­ti­gate any Nige­rian no mat­ter how highly placed, Com­modore Umar has been on pri­vate busi­ness since he left pub­lic ser­vice. His area of busi­ness foray in­cludes oil and gas and air­line op­er­a­tions. The cash found in his res­i­dence are pro­ceeds of busi­ness trans­ac­tion. Sim­i­larly, the pis­tol dis­cov­ered in his house dur­ing the search had valid li­cense which only ex­pired few months ago.

There is no doubt that the Pres­i­dent mean well for this coun­try. He has demon­strated this both in ac­tions and words. How­ever, it will in­ter­est him to look in­ward closely and cau­tion few of his aides who in their pur­suit of pe­cu­niary and self serv­ing in­ter­est could pave way for lapses which his crit­ics may ex­plore and dub his an­ti­cor­rup­tion war as se­lec­tive.

Few weeks ago, one of the Nige­ria’s on- line medium, the Sa­hara Re­porters went to town with story al­leg­ing a plot by Chief of staff, Abba Kyari to re­move Chair­man of the Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.

The medium claimed that the COS was car­ry­ing out the plot in con­nivance with the Direc­tor Gen­eral of the Depart­ment of State Se­cu­rity (DSS) and news­pa­per pub­lisher Nduka Obaig­bena and fur­ther claimed of move to re­place Magu with a more amenable man .

Quot­ing undis­closed pres­i­dency sources which al­luded to a brew­ing cold war be­tween Magu and mem­bers of the Buhari’s kitchen cab­i­net, Sa­hara Re­porters fin­gered Kyari’s at­tempt to in­ter­fere with on­go­ing cor­rup­tion cases at the EFCC as the bane of the eerie fric­tion. It is on this premise that some dis­cern­ing Nige­ri­ans frowned against cur­rent tra­vail of Com­modore Umar Muhammed (rtd) in the hands of se­cu­rity op­er­a­tives. This is unfortunate de­vel­op­ment which has put the anti- graft war of the pres­i­dent on trial. Jalo wrote this piece from Dutse, Ji­gawa State uk­

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