Eminent legal scholar Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN) yesterday declared that he was not against the Federal Government’s anti-corruption war.
He alleged that former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who accused him of frustrating the crusade, was trying to whipup sentiment against him.
The former university don said his position was that the war should be fought within the constitutional framework.
He said the violation of the constitution in a bid to fight corruption could also engender corruption.
Nwabueze, a former Education Minister, said the governemnt had in the past violated the law while fighting graft, thereby indulging in the vice it was fighting.
He recalled that while the government was trying to bring the former Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun, to book, some infractions were committed.
In a statement in Lagos, the legal luminary alleged that the anti-corruption war was a tool of vendatta against perceived opponents by the Obasanjo government.
He described Ribadu as an ally of the former President when the violation of the constitution was in vogue.
Nwabueze said: “My attention has been drawn to what Mallam Nuhu Ribadu said about me at a lecture organised by the Law Chambers of Joe Kyari Gadzama on Thursday December 1, 2016 on the theme, “Corruption and the Nigerian Economy: Lawyers as Change Agents.” He said, among other things, that I, with others, teamed up with politicians to frustrate and undermine the country’s efforts to fight corruption, and to discredit the work he, as Chairman of the EFCC, was doing in prosecuting the war.
“Apparently, Nuhu Ribadu was reacting, as he is entitled to do, to what I wrote about him in my book, Current Issues and Problems in the Workings of Constitutional Democracy in Nigeria (2011), pages 92 – 101, titled Subversions of the Constitution by Nuhu Ribadu in the name of the War Against Corruption(photocopy attached herewith) – published in The Guardian.
“What the public expects of Nuhu Ribadu is, not just to whip up sentiments in favour of himself, to play to the gallery or to curry favours with the Buhari Administration, but to adduce concrete evidence in rebuttal of the facts stated in my write-up, in order to show that his impugned actions as Chairman of the EFCC are not subversive of the Nigerian Constitution, and what positive effect his subversive actions have had in curbing or eradicating the rampancy of corruption in Nigeria.”
Nwabueze maintained that while the country should fight corruption relentlessly, a total war on the cankerworm unrestrained by constitutional limitations on power is fraught with the danger of the emergence of personal rule.
He added: “These are the exact words I used to express my position in my latest book, The National Question and Corruption (2016), chapter 10, pages 179 – 193.
“ In the section of the chapter headed Final Remarks, I stated : In terms of checking, reducing or eradicating the incidence of corruption in the country, the truth is that, far from being checked, reduced or eradicated, corruption has vastly increased in its incidence, despite the subversions of the constitution ostensibly in the name of the war against it.
“This shows that Obasanjo’s and Ribadu’s so-called war is nothing but a futile and ill-motivated vendetta against opponents.
“ Perhaps, something needs to be said about certain assets claimed by Obasanjo and Ribadu to have been recovered.
“The findings of a committee that probed the sale of properties found to have been corruptly acquired by former Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun, and former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, revealed, according to report of its findings, that the sale was irregularly conducted, as no proper valuation of the properties was carried out and as other requirements of due process under the law were not followed; that of the nine buyers of the Tafa Balogun properties, six, whose names were stated as limited liability companies, were in fact non-existent, as they were not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission; that the proceeds of the sale were paid into an unauthorised account, instead of into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation as required by section 31(2) of the EFCC Act 2004; that the receipts of the lodgment of the proceeds were not deposited with the Auditor-General of the Federation in accordance with Financial Regulation 2520; that some cheques and bank drafts received in payment of part of the proceeds of the sales were left in the vaults of the EFCC where they remained and became stale. Above all, figures as to exactly how much was realised from the sales are conflicting, as no proper records of the sales were kept. About N12 billion, according to the probe report, was said to have been realized. (The Nation)