By Richard Abu
Abuja — A coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to bring to justice corrupt politicians who simply defected to the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) to escape prosecution.
The coalition, which operates under the umbrella of Civil Society Groups for Accountability and Probity, urged Buhari to end the increasing belief among Nigerians that his administration shields politicians indicted of corrupt practices, but join the APC, by allowing them to serve in his government.
It cited the fraud cases linked to Senator Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, who goes about as an untouchable in the APC-led federal government.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja yesterday, the group’s national secretary, Jonathan Ogwuche, said that it was suspect while the weighty charges against Akpabio were not given due consideration by the relevant ant-graft agencies. Ogwuche said that the failure of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to act on several petitions it submitted against Akpabio is a pointer that indeed there are sacred cows in the fight against corruption.
He said: “The Civil Society Groups for Accountability and Probity have keenly followed the twists and turns in the war on corruption. From our vox pop, the indications are rife that the greater percentage of the public has come to agree that the anti-corruption campaign of this administration has lost its steam and rather assumed a political coloration to wit: Those who have cross-carpeted to the ruling APC or are sympathetic to the fortunes of the APC have had their financial crimes and/or corruption charges swept under the carpet. This clearly only spells doom for national development and in the same light does not portend well for our democracy.
“Indeed, there is a litany of such corruption cases that have been waved with the whiff of complacent winds from the agencies which ordinarily should have presided over the prosecution of the characters behind these crimes.
“This is utterly saddening and disenchanting to say the least. One such case that sticks out with the notorious prominence of a sore thumb is the N108 billion fraud case against Senator Akpabio.
“It will be recalled that Senator Akpabio faced the speedy binge of investigation for a spate of time until he cross-carpeted to the ruling APC and now all activities relating to his investigation by the EFCC have been abruptly discontinued.
“Furthermore, it is on record that Senator Akpabio owns several outlandish properties/assets in several choice locations within Nigeria and abroad for which he did not include in his assets declaration forms while the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) maintains a deafening aloft silence without charging him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) like they were swift to do in the case of the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
“We have made spirited efforts to rouse the EFCC and CCB from their eternal slumber through all available vistas within the precincts of the law. We have severally formally written these anti-graft bodies both directly and through open publications without as much as a nudge of response from either agency,” Ogwuche lamented.