By Fortune Eromosele, ABUJA
As activities geared towards the 2023 general elections gathers momentum, President Muhammadu Buhari has advised Nigerians against voting politicians who would drag the country back to ‘dark ages.’
He stated this during an event organised by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, with the theme: “Fighting corruption in Nigeria: The past, the present and the future.”
Buhari said he made sure to leave behind a legacy of ‘zero tolerance,’ for corruption, adding that he expects the next administration to follow the same light.
He said, “I strongly believe that our anti-corruption agencies need to concentrate more on asset forfeiture regimes in addition to prosecution to deny looters the gains from the proceeds of their crime. All looted assets within and outside Nigeria must be recovered and used for the wellbeing of our citizens while the looters will be prosecuted and convicted if found culpable.
“In a matter of weeks, Nigerians will need to go to the polls again to elect their leaders in the general elections. I beseech Nigerians to reject politicians who would drag our country back to the dark ages in which corruption was made the order of the day.
“As I leave office in a matter of months, I have left behind a legacy of zero-tolerance for corruption for our teaming youths and to every citizen. For me, corruption is Evil and must be vehemently rejected in all ramifications by all Nigerians anywhere, anytime.
“It is by integrity, respect for rule of law, due process and genuine patriotism that we will make Nigeria the nation of our dream.”
In the same vein, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, lamented that the judiciary has not shown true commitment to the war against corruption.
He said, “I apologize to the numerous Judges in this country who have demonstrated their commitment to the struggle, only to find their patriotic efforts set aside and dismantled at the highest level. This re-occuring phenomenon has no doubt dampened the enthusiasm of the lower Courts.
“I have no intension of going into any detail about these judicial lapses in a public forum, but I am compelled to request the Supreme Court to review the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Justice Ngajiwa v. FRN  4 NWLR (PL. 1609) 301, in which that court held that no judicial officer could be arrested and tried for a criminal offence committed in the course of his judicial duties without the matter being first referred to the National Judicial Council. In this case the Judge did not even deny that he received the bribe, yet he was discharged.
“The reverberations of that decision have been absolutely devastating on the war against corruption. All Judges under trial for corruption in several courts were discharged because of this judgment and thus, all returned to their duty stations including the Supreme Court, to carry on as judicial officers.
“It was a terrible blow to the anti-corruption agencies and the war against corruption. How does a Judge discharged on technical grounds in a charge of corruption deal within a person charged before him for corruption? What will be the fate of the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria, if every professional association is given the pre-emptive right to deal with crimes committed by its members rather than being charged and tried in a court?
“The war against corruption cannot succeed in these circumstances. The Judiciary has to be committed to it, otherwise the war cannot be won.”
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