By Yemi Akinsuyi
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday signed an executive order to freeze assets of individuals with corruption cases.
Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 “on the Preservation of Assets connected with serious corruption and other relevant offences” was signed at a short ceremony in the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to Buhari, there is a very strong link between corruption and peace and security of the country.
He said: “I am delighted to welcome you all to this very important occasion, which is another milestone in the fight against corruption- a project that is very crucial to the viability and continuous well-being of this country. Whilst there are many reasons why Nigeria has been struggling; regrettably, the most unfortunate cause of great disparity between Nigeria’s wealth and its poverty is endemic corruption.
“There is also a very strong link between corruption, peace and security. Unfortunately, corruption is everywhere; at all levels of government, and every stratum of our society. Without doubt, corruption constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the well-being, national security, and economy of Nigeria.
“Mindful of this serious challenge, as you are all aware, before coming into government, this Administration specifically promised Nigerians that it will address the challenges facing our nation in the three areas of: (a) Security, (b) Economy and (c) Corruption.
”As a government, and in furtherance of our anti-corruption programme, we have since inception engaged in multi-sectoral reforms on anti-corruption including the enforcement of Treasury Single Account (TSA), strict implementation of the Bank Verification Number Policy, Signing of the Open Government Partnership, and a lot of efforts have gone into building and development of our anti-corruption institutions, among others.”
According to Buhari, his administration has so far kept faith with the promise and will remain committed until Nigeria triumphs over corruption, attains a prosperous economic status and surmounts all her security challenges.
He also insisted that if Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will sooner-or later kill Nigeria.
The President added: “Therefore, after three years in office, it is an opportune time to further review our achievements against set goals and, where necessary, re-appraise our strategy in order to achieve our outstanding objectives.
“As this real battle continues, we still need to strengthen our policies and institutions in order to successfully fight corruption. We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any means that facilitates corruption and supports its growth.
“From available records, the aggregate value of funds involved in some on-going prosecution of high profile corruption related cases stands at N595,409,838,452.25k. This amount is in excess of the N500 billion approved for Social Investment Programme in the 2018 Budget, which sum would be applied to cater for home grown school feeding programme, government economic empowerment programme, N-Power Job Creation Programme, Conditional Cash Transfers, etc. Cumulatively, scores of millions of Nigerian citizens would benefit from those programmes.
“To further put things in perspective, the highest appropriation in the 2018 Budget in the sum of N344 billion went to the Ministry of Works for construction and rehabilitation of several roads nationwide. These roads are:
”Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Dual Carriageway; Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa Bokani Road; Abuja-Abaji Road; Kano –Maiduguri Road; Enugu-P/Harcourt Dual Carriageway; Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene Road; Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Kontangora- Makera Road; Dualisation of Obajana to Benin; Calabar-Ugep-Katsina-Ala Road; Onitsha-Enugu Dual Carriageway; Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Dual Carriageway, Benin-Ofosu-Ore-Ajebandele-Sagamu Expressway Phase III; and Kontagora-Bangi Road.”
All the foregoing roads, he said, are expected to be either constructed or repaired with equivalent of about 57% of the monies covered by some of the on-going high profile corruption related cases.
“It has thus become necessary to re-kit and re-tool our arsenal to be able to effectively tackle corruption’s perilous counter-attack against the Nigerian State.
”Accordingly, the Federal Government of Nigeria has declared a national emergency to deal with that crisis. In this regard, the Federal Government of Nigeria in line with its anti-corruption strategy seeks to ensure that the ends of justice is not defeated or compromised by persons involved in a case or complaint of corruption.
“It is in consequence of this that I have decided to issue the Executive Order No. 6 of 2018 to inter alia restrict dealings in suspicious assets subject to investigation or inquiry bordering on corruption in order to preserve such assets from dissipation, and to deprive alleged criminals of the proceeds of their illicit activities which can otherwise be employed to allure, pervert and/or intimidate the investigative and judicial processes or for acts of terrorism, financing of terrorism, kidnapping, sponsorship of ethnic or religious violence, economic sabotage and cases of economic and financial crimes, including acts contributing to the economic adversity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and against the overall interest of justice and the welfare of the Nigerian State.” he said
Buhari was glad that the fight against corruption is gaining more momentum among African States.
He said: “We have just returned from the African Anti-Corruption Year event at Nouakchott, Mauritania where all African Heads of State were gathered to promote the anti-corruption message.
“Nigeria and 39 other African States have ratified the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. I pledge to elevate the African Union anti-corruption agenda at the next session of the United Nations General Assembly in September.
“Therefore, in order to preserve Nigeria’s political and economic systems, and the continuous progress of the Nigerian State from the serious threat of corruption, I call on all stakeholders, and indeed every Nigerian to give effect to this Executive Order.
“Agencies of the Federal Government in consultation with the Attorney General of the Federation should identify and adopt best practices, and develop strategies for action. The fight against corruption is one that must be fought by everyone wherever corruption rears its head.”