President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Abuja declared a national emergency on corruption, signed an executive order blocking assets tied to corruption and warns that institutions, agencies and individuals must own the fight to reverse the negative culture of pilfering public funds, or risk plunging the country into turmoil.
“Like I have said many times, if Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will sooner-or later kill Nigeria,’’ President Buhari said while signing Executive Order No.6 to further strengthen institutions on curtailing and restricting illicit activities in the country.
“It has thus become necessary to re-kit and re-tool our arsenal to be able to effectively tackle corruption’s perilous counter-attack against the Nigerian State. Accordingly, the Federal Government of Nigeria has declared a national emergency to deal with that crisis.
“In this regard, the Federal Government of Nigeria in line with its anti-corruption strategy seeks to ensure that justice is not defeated or compromised by persons involved in a case or complaint of corruption,’’ a presidency statement quoting Buhari said.
Buhari said the viability and continuous well-being of the nation faces enormous threat from corruption, pointing out that, “Whilst there are many reasons why Nigeria has been struggling; regrettably, the most unfortunate cause of great disparity between Nigeria’s wealth and its poverty is endemic corruption.’’
“It is in consequence of this that I have decided to issue the Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 to inter alia restrict dealings in suspicious assets subject to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption in order to preserve such assets from dissipation, and to deprive alleged criminals of the proceeds of their illicit activities which can otherwise be employed to allure, pervert and/or intimidate the investigative and judicial processes.
“Or for acts of terrorism, financing of terrorism, kidnapping, sponsorship of ethnic or religious violence, economic sabotage and cases of economic and financial crimes, including acts contributing to the economic adversity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and against the overall interest of justice and the welfare of the Nigerian State,’’ he added.
President Buhari said the real battle against corruption will be heightened by the strengthening of policies and institutions, noting that the Administration had achieved some milestones with multi-sectoral reforms on anti-corruption including the enforcement of Treasury Single Account (TSA), strict implementation of the Bank Verification Number Policy and Signing of the Open Government Partnership.
“There is also a very strong link between corruption, peace and security. Unfortunately, corruption is everywhere; at all levels of government, and every stratum of our society. Without doubt, corruption constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the well-being, national security, and economy of Nigeria.
“From available records, the aggregate value of funds involved in some on-going prosecution of high profile corruption related cases stands at N595, 409,838,452.25k.
“This amount is in excess of the N500 billion approved for Social Investment Programme in the 2018 Budget, which sum would be applied to cater for home grown school feeding programme, government economic empowerment programme, N-Power Job Creation Programme, Conditional Cash Transfers, etc. Cumulatively, scores of millions of Nigerian citizens would benefit from those programmes.
“To further put things in perspective, the highest appropriation in the 2018 Budget in the sum of N344 billion went to the Ministry of Works for construction and rehabilitation of several roads nationwide,’’ the President noted.
The President listed roads that will benefit from monies recovered from corruption cases to include: Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriageway; Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa Bokani Road; Abuja-Abaji Road; Kano –Maiduguri Road; Enugu-P/Harcourt Dual Carriageway; Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Road; Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Kontangora- Makera Road; Dualisation of Obajana to Benin; Calabar-Ugep-Katsina-Ala Road; Onitsha-Enugu Dual Carriageway; Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Dual Carriageway; Benin-Ofosu-Ore-Ajebandele-Sagamu Expressway Phase III and Kontagora-Bangi Road.
He said all the roads are expected to be either constructed or repaired with equivalent of about 57% of the monies recovered by some of the on-going high profile corruption related cases.
In his remarks, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the proceeds of corruption had been used to undermine the growth of the economy, and heighten the insecurity in the country.
Malami noted that the fight against corruption would be difficult except policies and institutions were strengthened.