ABUJA—THE Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan has said that rigging of election in whichever means was worse than stealing billions of money that belong to the people.
Cardinal Onaiyekan also appealed to the President Muhammadu Buhari-led executive arm of government to refrain from controlling the judiciary, so as to allow justices, judges the free hand to carry out their constitutional duties without unnecessary pressure from the executive arm of government.
Speaking in an interview with Good Shepherd, a Catholic Newspaper published by the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja on the sideline of the 2019 Cathedraticum Mass of the Bwari Deanary at St. James Dawaki, Onaiyekan lamented the wanton kidnapping and killing of Nigerians in different parts of the country.
Assessing the fight against corruption by the Buhari government, he alleged that corruption was even being perpetrated by those closer to the President, adding that corruption goes beyond stealing of money.
According to him, “It is not what I think that the current government has fought corruption to a standstill, it is what everybody sees around us all the time. Everybody agrees now that right under the nose of Mr. President, stealing is still going on.
“The only thing is that, the media cannot say it as freely as they used to say it under (former President) Goodluck Jonathan. But the fact is there.
“But in my opinion, corruption is not only a matter of stealing money, there are other things that are worse than stealing money. If a government is not sincere in the things it says to the people, that is gross corruption.
“Rigging election in whatever means is even worse than stealing billions because in the rigging of elections, you steal my vote which has no monetary value; even the complaints that people are having about biased systems of appointment of key officers.
“If you have a situation in Nigeria where Mr. President doesn’t see anybody competent except those who are from his village or religion, then that is gross corruption.”
On the controversy surrounding the trial and reported resignation and or the alleged retirement of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, he said, “One thing is certain, things have not been going well at the top level of our government. It is not for nothing that we normally talk about the distinction of the three arms of government— the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.
“And we have a situation where it appears that the judiciary is being totally controlled by the executive. Even if it is for good reasons, at the end of the day, it means that we are exposed to a situation where justices, judges are no longer free to do their work according to their vocation. They will feel that they are under pressure to pass a judgment that would please certain people.
“Today, it is government, tomorrow it will be another person. That is why many people are worried about what has happened. And this is not about that gentleman called Onnoghen, he may have been a horrible man.
“Perhaps he was a corrupt judge, well, someone must have recommended him to be at the head of our judiciary. If they are telling us that the entire judiciary is rotten, let them say it clearly. And they will have to tell us how they are going to replace it.”