On April 19, 2017, Nigerians were greeted with the news of the suspension of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayodele Oke, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to a release from the Presidency, President Buhari suspended the former SGF over graft and alleged involvement in the N200 million grass-cutting contract of the Presidential Initiative in the North East (PINE) while the NIA DG was suspended over the discovery of N13 billion in an Ikoyi apartment said to belong to the National Intelligence Agency, which he headed.
The duo’s suspension, however, was followed by an inauguration of a probe panel which was headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, (SAN), to investigate allegations of financial impropriety leveled against them.
Six months after, the news is again focused on the suspended former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayodele Oke. This time, President Buhari announced the sack of the duo, from their respective offices.
The announced disengagement from service of the two hitherto suspended public officers was reportedly in line with the recommendations of Prof. Osinbajo-led probe panel which report the public earnestly awaits till date.
For President Buhari and probably his APC cohorts, this development is considered a laudable feat, that could be published even in the streets of Ashkelon as a supposed proof that APC stands for standard and impartiality. It could as well be engraved in the anals of history as a testimony to President Buhari’s unbiased posture in his fight against corruption in Nigeria.
But, what message a sack news without prosecution would actually send across the length and breadth of Nigeria and even beyond has remained a puzzle. Is the President and his advisers actually viewed as having done the needful? Is the measure sincerely hard enough to nail corruption to death in Nigeria?
Accepted that it is enough signal to the All Progressives Congress, APC family that there is no sacred cow, however, I’m afraid that this could be the commencement of a drama of sorts.
This thought of mine, I suspect, must have been what propelled the likes of the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Ijaw Youth Congress and civil society groups, among others, to call for a more decisive action against the indicted officials.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigerians had earnestly expected this scenario where the President’s anti-corruption searchlight would truly be beamed on the ranks of his own party. The case in hand is one that would either boost the personality profile of the President or mar it in the perception of Nigerians.
Nigerians, no doubt, had thought that six months is a long time for every investigation on this matter to have been concluded so that the right measure of discipline be applied.
It is hoped that asking the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, (ICPC) to go ahead to investigate the sacked officials should not constitute a delay tactics and a milder way of taking the public’s attention away from the matter while the culprits go unpunished.
It is, therefore, imperative that the days of investigation be determined to avoid delay and denial of justice.
The public is watching, I just hope this will be an opportunity for the President to prove his critics wrong concerning his unbiased fight against corruption.