President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday signed an executive order to freeze assets of individuals with corruption cases, even as his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, told the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that the government is now set to wield the big stick against those who indulged in corrupt practices.
Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 “on the Preservation of Assets connected with serious corruption and other relevant offences” was signed at a short ceremony in the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Describing the Order as another milestone in the fight against corruption, and a project that is very crucial to the viability and continuous well-being of Nigeria, Buhari pointed out that there is a very strong link between corruption and peace and security of the country.
He stressed that the most unfortunate cause of great disparity between Nigeria’s wealth and its poverty is endemic corruption, insisting that corruption constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the well-being, national security, and economy of Nigeria.
His words, “Mindful of this serious challenge, as you are all aware, before coming into government, this Administration specifically promised Nigerians that it will address the challenges facing our nation in the three areas of: (a) Security, (b) Economy and (c) Corruption.
”As a government, and in furtherance of our anti-corruption programme, we have since inception engaged in multi-sectoral reforms on anti-corruption including the enforcement of Treasury Single Account (TSA), strict implementation of the Bank Verification Number Policy, Signing of the Open Government Partnership, and a lot of efforts have gone into building and development of our anti-corruption institutions, among others.”
The President maintained that his administration has so far kept faith with the promise and will remain committed until Nigeria triumphs over corruption, attains a prosperous economic status and surmounts all her security challenges.
He also insisted that if Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will sooner-or later kill Nigeria.
His words: “Therefore, after three years in office, it is an opportune time to further review our achievements against set goals and, where necessary, re-appraise our strategy in order to achieve our outstanding objectives.
“As this real battle continues, we still need to strengthen our policies and institutions in order to successfully fight corruption. We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any means that facilitates corruption and supports its growth.
“From available records, the aggregate value of funds involved in some on-going prosecution of high profile corruption related cases stands at N595,409,838,452.25k. This amount is in excess of the N500 billion approved for Social Investment Programme in the 2018 Budget, which sum would be applied to cater for home grown school feeding programme, government economic empowerment programme, N-Power Job Creation Programme, Conditional Cash Transfers, etc. Cumulatively, scores of millions of Nigerian citizens would benefit from those programmes.
“To further put things in perspective, the highest appropriation in the 2018 Budget in the sum of N344 billion went to the Ministry of Works for construction and rehabilitation of several roads nationwide. These roads are:
”Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriageway; Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa Bokani Road; Abuja-Abaji Road; Kano –Maiduguri Road; Enugu-P/Harcourt Dual Carriageway; Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Road; Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Kontangora- Makera Road; Dualisation of Obajana to Benin; Calabar-Ugep-Katsina-Ala Road; Onitsha-Enugu Dual Carriageway; Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Dual Carriageway, Benin-Ofosu-Ore-Ajebandele-Sagamu Expressway Phase III; and Kontagora-Bangi Road.”
All the foregoing roads, he said, are expected to be either constructed or repaired with equivalent of about 57 per cent of the monies covered by some of the on-going high profile corruption related cases.
“It has thus become necessary to re-kit and re-tool our arsenal to be able to effectively tackle corruption’s perilous counter-attack against the Nigerian State.
”Accordingly, the Federal Government of Nigeria has declared a national emergency to deal with that crisis. In this regard, the Federal Government of Nigeria in line with its anti-corruption strategy seeks to ensure that the ends of justice is not defeated or compromised by persons involved in a case or complaint of corruption.
“It is in consequence of this that I have decided to issue the Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 to inter alia restrict dealings in suspicious assets subject to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption in order to preserve such assets from dissipation, and to deprive alleged criminals of the proceeds of their illicit activities which can otherwise be employed to allure, pervert and/or intimidate the investigative and judicial processes or for acts of terrorism, financing of terrorism, kidnapping, sponsorship of ethnic or religious violence, economic sabotage and cases of economic and financial crimes, including acts contributing to the economic adversity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and against the overall interest of justice and the welfare of the Nigerian State.” he said.
“In order to preserve Nigeria’s political and economic systems, and the continuous progress of the Nigerian State from the serious threat of corruption, I call on all stakeholders, and indeed every Nigerian to give effect to this Executive Order.
“Agencies of the Federal Government in consultation with the Attorney General of the Federation should identify and adopt best practices, and develop strategies for action. The fight against corruption is one that must be fought by everyone wherever corruption rears its head.”
Following this signing of Executive Order 6, the Presidency mocked the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, saying that, “Every day, harsh words against the government are all that the President gets from Wadata House, the Head Office of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, because their leaders, as do some other Nigerians are already feeling the heat.”
According to Shehu, “To say the truth, I am not sure if there are many of our citizens who expected any PDP support for the President in his war against corruption.
“In spite of all the achievements recorded, you still hear complaints that the anti-corruption isn’t as dramatic as Nigerians wished it to be. Some want the country to do it the Chinese way. Others say the government is not arresting the powerful people.
“For the Buhari administration, concern lies in the fact that corruption has become a big problem because investigation, prosecution and trial in courts are made harder by persons accused of crimes relating to it. They are using the enormous resources in their possession to thwart the system.
“The President’s view is that, it is only a clean Nigeria that can attract foreign investment, free money for more of the capital projects the administration is executing and creating jobs for our teeming population of young men and women.
“The President says in the interest of justice and the welfare of the Nigerian state, persons accused of crimes relating to corruption must be prevented from utilizing the proceeds and dissipating such assets suspected to be proceeds of corruption (or associated with corruption) pending final determination of any investigation or legal actions related to such assets or owners thereof.”