Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) chairman Prof Itse Sagay (SAN), yesterday faulted a statement by Kaduna Central Senator Shehu Sani, that the Buhari administration is treating corruption in government with “deodorant”.
Sagay said Sani’s comments were a political statement.
He accused the senator of fighting his own political “battles” which influence his views.
Sani had dismissed as “false” President Muhammadu Buhari’s claims on a Senate report indicting Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, of corruption.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in its response to the report on Lawal and the representation of Magu for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) job, described Buhari’s anti-corruption war is “a ruse.”
In a statement yesterday, spokesman of the Makarfi faction, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, said clearing Magu and Lawal “has finally confirmed our earlier assertion that the ‘anti-corruption war’ of the APC-led administration is a ruse; a witch-hunting mechanism to harass PDP members and perceived enemies of this administration”.
Speaking at the Senate on Tuesday after Senate President Bukola Saraki read Buhari’s letter absolving Lawal of fraud, the Senator suggested the president’s defence smacked of double standards.
Buhari had reacted to the Senate’s demand for Lawal’s sack and prosecution, having accused him of corruption in handling a grass cutting contract awarded by the Presidential Initiative on Northeast (PINE).
The president in his letter said he could not act as demanded by the Senate because the report of the Senate Ad hoc committee was signed by three of nine members.
He also said the SGF was not given fair hearing.
Sani, who chaired the ad hoc committee and presented the interim report last December, said seven members, not three as claimed by the president, signed the report.
He also said Lawal was invited to appear before the committee, adding the SGF’s secretary received and acknowledged the invitation.
“Corruption in the Judiciary and others is treated with insecticide while corruption in the Presidency is treated with deodorant,” Sani said.
But, Sagay said while he does not have much facts regarding the allegations against the SGF, he should be given a fair hearing by the Senate before being condemned.
“With regards to the SGF, I don’t really know much about that. My own view is that they should give him a hearing and if at the end of it, they consider that he’s liable, then they should come to the conclusion and condemn him if they want. But they should give him a hearing. That’s all,” Sagay said.
The PACAC chairman said he expected the likes of Senator Sani to stand up for Ibrahim Magu whose nomination as EFCC chairman was first rejected by the Senate before he was re-nominated.
Sagay expressed regret that despite his civil society background and activism, Sani did not support Magu considering his efforts in leading the anti-corruption battle.
Sagay said: “I don’t really know the basis of that comment he made. I think it’s a political statement. It’s not factual.
“He’s a political antagonist of his own party. He doesn’t get on well with the governor of his state, and he doesn’t get on with the Federal Government. So it is his political battle that is colouring his statement. It’s not factual.
“I don’t know too much about the Secretary to the Federal Government, I must confess that. I don’t know much about that.
“But I know the case of Magu thoroughly. And the allegations are spurious. There is no reality in them. The whole thing was distorted to give a wrong impression about Magu.
“You as a journalist, I know you people investigate. You know a lot. The allegations are all false. He did not rent a flat by himself; he was put in a house by government. So what is his business if government paid more than it should have paid?
“It’s all just cooked up to prevent him from being appointed. So I don’t see why a senator should attack the presidency for returning Magu’s nomination to the Senate.”
The PACAC chairman said Magu was victimised, adding that senators who rejected his first nomination were not representing the interest of Nigerians.
“I expected Senator Sani as a human rights person, as far as I know, a person from the civil society, that he should have stood up for the truth. He should have known that Magu was victimised deliberately. He should have stood against that.
“He should have stood for the oppressed person who has been doing a marvelous work in the fight against corruption. But this time he stood on the wrong side.
“Maybe the Senate has its own interest which is contrary to the interest of the country. And he’s standing with that Senate in that regard. So, that’s his business,” Sagay said.