The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has lauded the Federal Government’s renewed offensive against corruption which has manifested in the arraignment of Babachir Lawal, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Ayodele Oke,former Director-General of the Nigeria Intelligence.
This is coming on the heels of last week’s arraignment of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
In a release, issued by CACOL’s Executive Chairman, Debo Adeniran, the Centre hailed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for filing 10 charges against the sacked SGF who was indicted for using his companies to get contracts worth millions of naira without executing the contracts.
Others who were arraigned before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, alongside Lawal and Oke were Lawal’s company Rholavision Engineering Limited, Mrs. Oke, and five others.
Oke and his wife were arraigned on four counts of money laundering before a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Adeniran noted, “We would all recollect how Babachir Lawal, was removed from office after he was indicted by a Senate committee that investigated the mismanagement of funds meant to assist persons displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency and how Mr. Lawal was indicted for diverting hundreds of millions of naira.
“It should also be noted that a panel, headed by the Vice President, Yemi Oshibajo, in its final report, indicted Babachir Lawal on the alleged fraudulent award of grass cutting contracts by his office through the Presidential Initiative for North East.
“After his removal by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017, many Nigerians called for his prosecution and many seemed to have lost any hope in President Buhari’s government’s readiness to do the needful, as the man was busy canvassing for the re-election bid of the President in his Adamawa home state.”
The CACOL boss further recalled that Oke and his wife were indicted over alleged concealment of about $43m and other huge sums of cash in a flat at Osborne Towers in Lagos Island.
According to him: “It is noteworthy that, since these corruption issues broke out, CACOL and other civil organizations, especially those of us with a specialization on corruption matters, have variously petitioned the anti-graft agencies, especially the EFCC, clearly underscoring why it would not only be a great disservice to the government’s avowed fight against corruption if corruption cases involving these prominent government officials were swept under the carpet.
“We emphasized that such an attitude had a tendency of portraying the government as being ambivalent in the fight against the corruption scourge.”
He added, “In retrospect, we are aware that governments, all over the world, like to operate at their own pace due to exigencies and other reasons that may not be disclosed or open to members of the public. However, considering the damaging effects of corruption, especially by government officials, it is quite understandable why we are quick to raise alarm whenever the public noticed a form of prevarication over corruption issues on the part of the government of the day.
“As the saying goes, ‘Better Late than Never’. It is in this wise that we hail the final filing of corruption charges and arraignment of these indicted people, while we insist on meticulous and efficient prosecution devoid of witch-hunting, filibustering or shoddy prosecution of suspected corrupt officials.