Jonathan blames judiciary for ‘slow’ corruption war

President Goodluck Jonathan

The presidential spokesperson, Reuban Abati, said his boss fights corruption hard.

The Nigerian presidency has distanced itself from the highly criticised anti-corruption record the Goodluck Jonathan administration has been faulted for, heaping the blame instead upon the judiciary which it said has failed to speed up efforts of bringing offenders to justice.

Presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, said President Goodluck Jonathan has worked hard to improve, or at worst, sustain the tempo he met on corruption, but those efforts were constantly suppressed by Nigeria’s lethargic judiciary.

“If you feel that the process of bringing persons to justice is slow in your estimation, don’t forget the fact that the process of conviction and of bringing people to justice after government has initiated it, is that of the judiciary,” Mr. Abati said in an interview with the Nigeria Pilot first published Monday. “The onus is on the judiciary to make sure that those cases are expeditiously treated. But what we get to hear is that the wheel of justice in Nigeria still grinds slowly.”

He, however, said the president was overseeing an ongoing reform that would see the judiciary working faster.

“However, judicial reform is something also that President Jonathan is looking at to make sure that the justice administration system is fast tracked and that justice is done and is seen to have been done.”

The remarks from the presidency, apparently indicative it was sifting the buck, on a touchy subject it has faced unending criticisms for, drew immediate condemnation from corruption activists.

Critics have accused Mr. Jonathan of not only retarding the pace of campaign against official graft, but also of reversing the minimal gains made by the previous administration.

Three months ago, Mr. Jonathan reversed the indictment of a former governor of Bayelsa state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, convicted in 2006 on charges of enriching himself with state funds totaling into billions of naira, and granted the ex-governor state pardon.

Despite a huge backlash, the president held on to the decision. In a statement on Sunday on a separate subject, Mr. Abati castigated the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nuhu Ribadu, who oversaw Mr. Alamieyeseigha’s prosecution. Mr. Abati accused Mr. Ribadu of maltreating suspects when they were yet tried by the courts. He said Mr. Ribadu engineered the impeachment of Mr. Alamieyeseigha over the matter.

Under Mr. Jonathan too, Nigeria has performed consistently poor in global rating on corruption. The government has repeatedly discarded the indices as not reflecting the reality.

In the interview with The Pilot, Mr. Abati said the administration was not only winning the corruption war, it was preempting fraud through policies that make it difficult for officials to steal.

“There have been concrete convictions of persons involved in corruption cases since this government came in. We are aware of the celebrated case of the man that was involved in the pension fund scam. That has been one high profile conviction. And only last year, the EFCC made it clear that it had secured over 200 convictions in 2012 alone and that number must have gone up by now,” he said. “Nobody wants to take special notice of this, and I think that it is something that should be stressed. It will be wrong to say that there have been no convictions. The other thing is that in terms of the fight against corruption, this administration has taken a lot of result-oriented steps to strengthen processes, institutions and block wastages and leakages within the system.

He cited reform in pension, petroleum subsidy, fertilizers, reduction in number of government offices, amongst such policies.

“Government is perpetually giving account; ministers are required to make presentations, to subject themselves to peer review in terms of what monies they collected and how much they have spent,” he said.

“This government is always saying, this is what it is doing and it is open to assessment. It is in that spirit that today, the budgeting process has been become more transparent so that anybody can comment on the budget.”

Mr. Abati also rejected public impression that the president endorsed the governor of Plateau state, Jonah Jang, as the victor of the controversial governors’ forum election. He said the president merely received Mr. Jang, he did not endorse him.

“As President, he receives guests everyday including governors and members of the National Assembly. If a group of governors say they want to see him, there is no way he can refuse them audience. So, it is a case of people reading meanings to that meeting. And if the people who have come to see him describe themselves in a particular manner, it is not for the President to argue against that, because he is the father of all.

“If another set of governors come tomorrow and they want to see the President, he will grant them access. If he denies them audience, that could be a problem because what Nigerians would then be saying is that the President is denying governors access to his office. Don’t forget that the President is also a political leader, if you say this is what you are and you want to see him, he will grant you audience. That does not amount to an endorsement because as I said earlier, he is not a member of the NGF. It is the governors who should put their own house in order because they are political leaders in their own right,” the spokesman said.


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  • Fula

    Abati, let your words be few for surely you will be made to eat them soon

    • Tobibs


  • Mamman Bako

    GEJ is now becoming ‘President Blame Someone Else’, yesterday it was the military and para-military officers to blame, today it is the turn of judges. The way things are going GEJ will soon blame the voters that brought him to power. Alakori president!

    • Tobibs


  • Ndidi

    GEJ is right that the judiciary is not taking corruption cases seriously, but he himself doesn’t seem to either. He appointed Anenih then pardoned Alams. These are not actions of a man who is tough on corruption. Much much more needs to be done by this government to show not just Nigerians, not just Africans, but the entire world that they are serious about stopping this gross corruption. If this corruption is not stopped there will likely be a revolution by the people – please note, I am not inciting anybody to violence. I am stating what normally happens. Read about the French Revolution and what drove the poor peasants to it. Read about the Russian Revolution which has a similar starting point.

    • Tobibs

      You are contradicting yourself.

    • Gidi

      GEJ should start by leading by example. The same GEJ blaming judiciary has refused to reinstate the President of Court of Appeal, Justice Salami. He doesn’t have credibility on this matter until the right thing is done. Judiciary needs reform but it must start by bringing back people with credibility.

  • nija pikin

    Is it the judiciary that stop you from sacking or taking action on the indicted oil subsidy theifs I.e petroleum minister, finance minister. Is it not true that almost all the oil subsidy theifs have donated in the 2011 presidents election who pardon Alams & co, who squandard almost 23B dollars of nigeria`s foriegn reserve from the time Yaradua was hospitalise to the time he died. Come on of course its not the judiciary may be you mean pdpciary, sir its not late for you to do the rigth thing and write your name in Gold, I advice you to try to lead by example everyone will sit up, so that it will not be business as usual.

  • Tobibs

    Alakori President, and his chief Hypocrite Spokesman, Alakori Abati

  • Sagba

    Please, Nigerians, let us give this President a breathing space. What offence has he committed that you guys are calling him names! He deserves our respect no matter what. The fowl is sweating, but the feathers may suggest otherwise. I believe Dr Jonathan is doing his best and can do more if everyone plays his/her role perfectly. He is not perfect, so why not assist him with useful suggestions which possibly can be enforced through the courts, provided the Judiciary is above board. We need to check our utterances and work together with him to lift Nigeria out of poverty.

    • Omo Akin

      Your plea is misplaced. President Jonathan surrounded himself with the worst possible characters. Abati, Okupe, Dokubo, Yuguda, Anenih etc. A few months ago, Festus Keyamo threaten to sue the Federal Govt if the govt failed to prosecute House Reps petroleum subsidy committee chairman; it was after the threat that the man was arraigned before the court. If Govt is reluctant to prosecute, how would the Govt diligently prosecute? Several Judges expressed frustration with the lack of diligence in prosecuting corruption cases. Please read the interview of Olisa Agabkoba on the poor job done by most of the Govt prosecutors of corruption cases. Now the President’s spokesperson wants to blame the judiciary, this is ridiculous. People react angrily because this type of statements are insulting to the intelligence of Nigerians. Abati who was defending the pardon of Alams who was convicted on his own plea now wants to blame the court. I still vividly remember what Abati wrote on Alams, on how Alams dressed like a woman to escape from London.
      President Jonathan assembled the worst cast for his administration and there is little wonder that his administration is the worst in the history of Nigeria.

  • PureNigerian

    Always looking for an excuse.
    Confused people ruled by confused government.