The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the present Administration will continue to fight corruption within the confines of the Rule of Law, but warned that it (Rule of Law) was not intended to be used as a weapon to hamper the dispensation of justice.
”In response to the ongoing anti-corruption efforts of the government, an increasing number of voices have emerged in defence of suspects being indicted for various acts of corruption by the courts of law under the banner of upholding the Rule of Law.
”Let me stress that the Rule of Law is not and was never intended to be used as a line of defense for suspects undergoing trial for corrupt practices in the courts of law that are lawfully constituted and endowed with the legitimate authority to carry out same trial,” the Minister said at a symposium organized by the Gani Fawehinmi Students’ Chamber of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos.
He said the Administration is a product and true advocate of the Rule of Law, and that ”there is no greater proponent of that time-tested legal principle than Mr. President himself.”
The Minister said there was nothing questionable in the Administration’s approach to fighting corruption, adding: ”The government is bound by law and is following the Rule of Law in its anti-corruption efforts. Were this not the case, the accused persons so far charged would not be having their day in court.”
He said each society had used methods expedient to it to fight corruption at different times in their own history, citing the example of Singapore which once fought corruption by suspending rule of law and fundamental rights.
”The current Nigerian government has not requested for emergency powers to tackle corruption, even though some school of thought unequivocally believes that Nigeria is in an emergency, with high unemployment, unpaid salaries, reduced income, insurgency, reduced oil income and primitive looting of the treasury by the immediate past administration,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
Rallying support for the fight against corruption, he said the battle is a constitutional imperative, and quoted Section 15 (5) of the Constitution, which says: “The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of office.”
”So, President Buhari was only giving life to this very important provision, with all his targeted actions against corruption and his rallying cry to all Nigerian patriots in the forefront of the war:
‘Nigeria must kill corruption before corruption kills Nigeria’. I hope you will join us in this epic battle, because it is not Buhari’s war, it is not APC’s war. It is Nigeria’s war of survival,” the Minister said.
Discussants at the symposium, including Mr. Femi Falana and Mr. Jiti Ogunye, expressed support for the anti-corruption battle, saying those who are charged with corruption cannot use the bogey of the Rule of Law to escape justice.