A civil society organisation, the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), has called for a “full scale and wide-ranging investigations” into the administrations of former Nigerian leaders and bring all those who breached public trust to account.
Reacting to the public spat between President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the organisation said the federal government has a duty to probe “all grey areas in every administration, beyond the alleged $16 billion power sector expenditure”.
Addressing a group of his supporters on Tuesday, President Buhari alluded that President Obasanjo has questions to answer for spending $16 billion on power without commensurate result. President Obasanjo promptly responded saying he was ready for probe.
The statement quoted the AFRICMIL Coordinator, Chido Onumah, as saying: “This challenge the former president throws at the federal government presents a unique opportunity for us as a country to revisit our past and bring all our past leaders to account. Reopening the power sector expenditure probe would be a step in the right direction for the country, but that should just be the beginning”.
According to Mr. Onumah, “It is high time the unwritten amnesty given to former heads of states and presidents was jettisoned and those individuals scrutinized to get them to fully account for their stewardship and explain the hemorrhage Nigeria suffered overtime.
“Apart from Sani Abacha, who died in office, there is no Nigerian leader whose personal misconduct was subjected to criminal investigation. This is both an anomaly and an irony. It is ironic that those who are alive are left to enjoy the fruits of their misdeeds,” he said.
Mr. Onumah cited the example of many countries including Israel, Brazil, South Korea and Malaysia, in recent time, which subjected their former leaders to corruption probe, saying that practice is a major deterrence against corruption for future leaders.
“Nigerian money is our common patrimony. No one can wave off stealing on behalf of all citizens, and ignoring the conduct of former leaders is doing exactly that,” he added.
Describing what he called “criminal collusion” on the part of successive leaders, Mr. Onumah stated that it was unfair for law enforcement agents to go after subordinates “while the big masquerades on whose table the buck stops are deliberately let off the hook.”
AFRICMIL called for a strong independent inter-agency panel to investigate major scandals since the administration of former military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida.