[This article was first published May 23, 2017, at 19:03]
Mr Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC), vowed to fight corruption with the last drop of his blood.
Addressing a massive anti-corruption rally in Abuja, Magu reaffirmed the determination of the commission to “trace and recover all ill-gotten wealth and bring the perpetrators to book’’.
He said: “I stand before you today and make a solemn pledge never to give up the fight. Those who dread to be punished for their corrupt deeds should take notice that the EFCC is watching.
“It is time to weep for those who believe they can perpetually hold down Nigeria as a cow and milk her to death.
“It is time to weep for supposed men and women of honour who pose as anti-corruption fighters but when they think we are not looking, they plot and fund the collapse of the anti-corruption war.
“It is time to weep for those who want to be perpetually rich at the expense of our poor masses. Victory is ours because the days of impunity are gone.’’
Newsmen report that the rally was part of a nationwide anti-corruption walk staged by the EFCC to spur the masses into joining the anti-graft war.
It was planned to coincide with the second anniversary of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on May 29.
The walk, which began at the commission’s Head Office in Wuse 2, at 8.45 a.m., witnessed a massive turnout of officials and other stakeholders.
They included representatives of the Inspector-General of Police, the Federal Road Safety Corps, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress, civil society organisations and student unions.
The exercise took the participants from Wuse 2 through Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Shehu Shagari Way and front of the National Assembly Complex to the Federal Secretariat.
Dressed in branded red and white T-shirts, they carried banners and placards with different messages including “Enough of siddon look, join the crusade against corruption”.
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Magu said he was touched by the massive turnout, which he described as an eloquent testimony that Nigerians are fully in support of the fight against corruption.
He said huge gains had been recorded in the anti-graft war of the Buhari administration in the last two years as evident in the massive recovery and forfeiture of stolen assets.
He said: “The reign of impunity in the conduct of public affairs has been tamed to a considerable extent.
“By taking on the high and mighty in all sectors, the EFCC has proven that there are no sacred cows in the fight against corruption.
“All of these have been made possible by a new political climate in Nigeria under President Buhari, who has demonstrated the will to fight corruption by not interfering with the operations of the anti-graft agencies.’’
Magu took a swipe at the corrupt elite who he said continued plotting to derail the anti-corruption programme of the current administration without remorse.
Their aim, he emphasised, is to return the country to the dark days when corruption and impunity reigned supreme.
“ While many Nigerians are calling for stiffer punishment for the corrupt, the patrons of corruption now tell us that it does not pay to punish the corrupt!
“While we are sweating in the sun to express our collective hatred for corruption, they are busy in the air conditioned mansions plotting how to continue the looting.’’
The EFCC acting chairman, who said the country could not afford to let them succeed, called on all Nigerians to rise up against corruption.
He noted that the fight required a consensus of all Nigerians to be won, adding that the anti-graft agencies could not do it alone.
Expressing similar sentiment, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Ayuba Wabba, urged Nigerians to take up the fight against corruption.
Wabba said: “The corruption elite are saying that Nigeria is corrupt; we that are on the ground are also saying that the system is corrupt.
“The fact remains that there is systemic corruption in Nigeria, therefore, we Nigerian citizens must be ready at all cost to make sacrifice to make Nigeria a better place.’’
He assured the EFCC of the support of Nigerian workers and citizens on the fight against corruption.