Chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in some states have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal, the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, and the suspended Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke, in order to highlight to Nigerians that his anti-graft war is indeed genuine.
In separate interviews with Punch, the Chieftains made the calls against the backdrop of several probe reports submitted to the Presidency, which they said appeared to have indicted the affected top government officials of corrupt practices.
An APC chieftain in Adamawa Mark Wosi said, “You can’t keep telling us you are fighting corruption while there are corruption allegations against people around you and yet you can’t do anything about it. This only means you are the father of corruption. The integrity of President Muhammadu Buhari is now in doubt with all these fraud cases under his nose.”
The Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Justice, Razaq Atunwa (Asa/Ilorin West) called on the President to sack and prosecute the affected government officials.
He said, “If someone has committed a financial crime or fraud, he must not only be dismissed from office but be made to face the music. It is for the court to decide if the person is guilty of that offence or not.”
An APC chieftain in Ogun, Bode Mustapha, said if the report of the findings indicted the SGF, he would expect the President to immediately act on it.
He said, “We don’t need this kind of suspense now. It is capable of bringing President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration into disrepute. He (Buhari) is allowing the Peoples Democratic Party to have a field day in accusing the APC of shielding corrupt people, whether rightly or wrongly. This is a big shame.”
The factional Chairman of the APC in Ebonyi, Ben Nwaobasi, said sacking the affected government officials would lend credence to the anti-graft campaign of the Federal Government.
He said, “Nobody should be condoned; any person who runs afoul of the law and indulges in corrupt practices should be made to face the full weight of the law. All those who have a hand in any corrupt practice should be punished.”
An APC leader in Osun, Amitolu Shitu, also asked the President to sack Lawal and Yusuf over the allegations of corruption levelled against them.
“Unfortunately, he has failed in his anti-corruption war. He failed, not because he is stealing money, but because he allowed corrupt politicians around him to hijack governance from him and run the affairs of the nation with impunity.
“It is not enough for the President to suspend the SGF and the NHIS boss, I believe he should sack them. And not only these two officials, there are others who were accused of corruption. Nothing has been done against them.
“Buhari’s campaign against corruption has failed and the rate of corruption now is so alarming.”
Another APC chieftain in Edo and a former House of Representatives member, Ehiogie West-Idahosa, equally supported the call for the sacking of Lawal and others.
He said, “As far as the SGF is concerned, we do know that there is a report which is pending, but nobody knows whether it will be presented at the end of the President’s tenure. I think the President is going to have a big albatross around his neck if he does not do away with the SGF.
“You can see how that suspension was celebrated. You could see the controversy associated with that person. And I think the safest bet for him (Buhari) is to renounce that appointment and get somebody else in order to save himself some credibility.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency has described the Senate and the Ministry of Health panels that investigated Lawal, and Yusuf, as administrative and therefore, lacking the powers to indict the top government officials.
The Special Assistant to the President on Prosecutions, Okoi Obono-Obla, said the Senate lacked the power to investigate Lawal for criminal activities.
In another interview with Punch, the presidential aide added that a similar committee set up by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, which discovered that fraud to the tune of N919 million allegedly took place under Yusuf as the NHIS boss, also lacked the power to investigate crime.
Asked how soon the President would take a decision on the SGF, he said, “It is an administrative process because it was not clear if there was corruption or if there was an infringement on the economic or financial laws in the country.
“The Senate that attempted to investigate it did not have the power (to do so). It cannot investigate crime; the Senate can only carry out its oversight function to expose corruption, inefficiency, maladministration in the process of lawmaking.”
Omoleye Omoruyi… an apprentice web/game developer, novelist, sensitive to happenings in the world. Meet him @Lord_rickie on Twitter/Instagram