PDP calls Buhari’s anti-graft war ‘a ruse’

Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal.

Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has described President Muhammadu Buhari’s clean bill of health to two of his officials accused of corruption as a confirmation that the war on corruption is “a ruse and a witch-hunting mechanism to harass PDP members and perceived enemies of this administration”.

The party was reacting to Mr. Buhari’s letters this week to the Senate in which he absolved the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal, and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, of corruption.

The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Dayo Adeyeye, on Tuesday said it found it disturbing how the President cleared the SGF of wrongdoing despite “the weighty evidence implicating Babachir of complicity in the award of contract amounting to over 200 million Naira” in relation to internally displaced persons’ camps in Borno State.

“It is more worrisome that Mr. President made light of the DSS Report which directly indicted the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu of several unwholesome and corrupt practices in the line of his duties”, the party further stated.

“President Buhari saw nothing wrong in the report but was quick to order the invasion of judges’ homes in a Gestapo and commando-style following the same DSS report.

“What a double standard! It appears that the APC-led government is implementing two constitutions in Nigeria; one for the PDP and other opposition parties and their leaders while the other is for the ruling party, the APC and friends of this administration”, it added.

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“It is very clear that the ‘Anti-Corruption War’ of President Muhammadu Buhari is a farce. Those who are serving or close to him can do no wrong. And if you are a sinner, simply cross over to the APC and all your sins will be forgiven.

“Without any fear of contradiction, we hereby further assert that the anti-corruption war of President is a complete failure. President Buhari must allow the trial of all the above-mentioned officers and members of his cabinet who have been found wanting with proof of corruption practices. Otherwise, we will conclude that it’s the end of the so called anti-corruption crusade.

“It’s time to end the deception of Nigerians”, the party said.

The Senate had in December last year asked President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Mr. Lawal and ensure his prosecution over alleged breach of Nigerian laws in handling contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE).

The Senate’s call followed the interim report of its ad-hoc committee on “mounting humanitarian crisis in the North East” led by Shehu Sani, which indicted Mr. Lawal for receiving N200 million contract to clear “invasive plant species” in Yobe State through a company, Rholavision Nigeria Limited.

The Senate had also declined to confirm Mr. Magu as substantive chairman of EFCC over a security report by the State Security Service, SSS.

It later turned out the SSS, also called DSS, released two contradictory reports on Mr. Magu, one clearing him of wrongdoing and the other seeking to stop his Senate clearance.

On Monday, President Buhari re-nominated Mr. Magu for confirmation as chairman of EFCC, stating that the allegations against him were false.

The president also wrote the Senate in response to the lawmakers’ indictment of Mr. Lawal, and consequent call for his removal and prosecution.

Mr. Buhari, in his letter read by Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday, defended Mr. Lawal, saying he had not been given fair hearing before the indictment.

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