President Muhammadu Buhari’s war against corruption received a massive boost last week Thursday, when the nation’s organised Labour, consisting of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) paralysed Abuja, the nation’s seat of power in a trenchant march to support the war on corruption.
The popularity of the anti-graft war manifested in the joining of efforts by the warring factions of the nation’s umbrella workers’ unions, as some leaders of the Comrade Joe Ajaero faction were seen at the forefront of the march led by the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba to the premises of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Assembly and the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) where they were received by the SGF, David Babachir Lawal.
This follows in the heels of the National Assembly, the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the media and other cross-sections of Nigerians, whose wholesale support for the effort to tame the monster of corruption from the public and private affairs of Nigeria have given the president the added legitimacy to embrace the effort without further delay.
We, however, join those who call for caution over the call for the “death penalty” for treasury looters until the preparedness of Nigerians for such a drastic approach is fully ascertained. Though Nigerians still subscribe to capital punishment for heinous crimes, especially when it concerns premeditated homicide, terrorism and heartless behaviour, the pattern has always been for Nigerians to call for mitigation of death sentences on other crimes considered less severe.
We believe that the fight against corruption does not require knee-jerk measures and improperly-chewed empty rhetoric or pandering to effete populism. It requires a rigorous think-through to evolve measures that can nip corruption in the bud to prevent commission of crime, and when committed, quick detection, prosecution, recovery of loot and administration of due justice to the offenders without fear, favour or ill-will.
The templates or models for civilised and lawful handling of anti-graft efforts are already in existence and it does not require the re-invention of the wheel. What we need is a system that works; a strategy that quickly identifies culprits, recovers stolen property and puts offenders behind bars within the shortest possible time. The precedence created will immediately impose restraint on prospective offenders.