Tambuwal accuses Jonathan of abating corruption in Nigeria

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, has accused President Goodluck Jonathan of encouraging corruption in the country.

According to him, Jonathan’s “body language” portrays that he is not ready to fight against corruption.

The speaker used the oil subsidy, Security and Exchange Commission scandal, the Pension scam as well as the Oduaghate saga as typical examples.

He equally took a swipe on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, accusing it of being greatly corrupt.

President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan

He was reacting to issues raised during the question and answer session at an event organised by the Nigerian Bar Association to mark the 2013 International Anti-corruption Day in Abuja.

Tambuwal said, “The Executive, by constituting committees to investigate what ordinarily would have been investigated by the EFCC, the ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and Other-Related Offences Commission) and the Code of Conduct Bureau, is engaged in a duplication of effort.

“We ( the National Assembly) do our own; we have been mandated by the 1999 Constitution to do it. They ( the anti-corruption agencies) have been established by law to do what they do.

“The Executive has no business in establishing their own. They (the Executive) should just refer corruption issues, if they mean business, to the EFCC.

“Let the Executive have the will of referring these matters, from the office of Mr. President, to the EFCC and see what will happen.

“By the action of setting up different committees for straightforward cases, the President’s body language doesn’t tend to support the fight against corruption.”

The speaker turned to EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde who was also present at the event and said the agency had turned a blind eye to several fraud allegations that the National Assembly had investigated.

He said, “Let us start with the anti-corruption agencies. I am happy that EFCC is here because they are also corrupt. Let us start by asking them what happens to the grants they receive from donor agencies which are neither budgeted nor accounted for? That is corruption.

“This is why we have asked the House Committee on EFCC to look into some of these issues and report back.

“The EFCC said it had started implementing the report on the probe of the fuel subsidy regime. Let me say it here today(Monday) that what EFCC said it was implementing was not the House report which exposed the enormous fraud in the system, but the one by Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede.

“The last the House heard from you on the subsidy report was when you requested me, the Speaker, to ask some members of the House to come and help you do your work. You also asked for explanations on some of the recommendations.

“I said no, it is not part of our job. We have done our bit; go and do yours.

“What has happened to all the exposed corruption cases? Of course, the pension scam is there. “There are also the recent and obvious fraud in the aviation sector and that of the SEC where trillions of naira from private investors were suspected to have been mismanaged.

“When we commenced investigation into the SEC matter, what became of paramount interest to the EFCC was an allegation that one of our members collected $4,000 as estacode to travel but failed to do so.

“Our members were immediately rushed to court for prosecution. Meanwhile, the top government officer that was found culpable in the main fraud for which the National Assembly called for public hearing, nothing has happened to her till date.

“I have not heard or read anywhere that she was invited by the EFCC or that any member of SEC was even invited.

“We, at the National Assembly, for the sake of probity and accountability, agreed that budgetary allocation to SEC should be suspended, only for us to hear that the Finance Ministry, the Budget Office and the Accountant- General of the Federation’s office found a leeway of funding SEC through service-wide vote.

“Coming to what happened in the aviation industry recently, do we need an angel to report to the EFCC that something happened there? No we don’t.

“What we have is that the National Security Adviser, who should have been more seriously interested and concerned about the security situation in this country, is being given an assignment to investigate what is clearly obvious.

“We all belong to this country and so people should stop taking us for granted.”

In a swift react, the Presidency said it was unfortunate that a man occupying a high office as the speaker could judge the President by body language.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, while reacting said he wondered whether the Speaker had become a sorcerer that could read Jonathan’s body language.

He said, “Is he (Tambuwwal) now a sorcerer that he now goes about reading people’s body language? He should make efforts to focus more on the efforts of the administration in fighting corruption and comment on what he knows.

“This administration is not going to fight corruption on the basis of mere speculation, or the politics being played by some people.

“Since his argument is based on body language, I think it is unfortunate that a man that is occupying such a high office is talking about body language whereas he is in a position to know the truth and defend both his party and the government.

“He should make the effort to know that the government is investigating various matters and working on them, and that President Jonathan will not condone any act of proven corruption.

“Besides, the Executive is not in a position to dictate to the judiciary and other independent institutions. There is a process.

“Corruption is not fought without due process being observed and he who is occupying a serious position should know a lot about it rather than acting the sorcerer and interpreting body language all over the place.

“It is not the executive that prosecutes people who may have been indicted. The fight against corruption is ultimately a collective responsibility.”

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