Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu has revealed that more corrupt officials in the current administration would soon be sacked by the president
Mallam Shehu made the revelation in an exclusive interview with the Daily Trust in Abuja while speaking on the circumstances that led to the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir David Lawal and the Director General of the National Intelligence NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke.
Read Excerpt below:
The statement, released on Wednesday, itself was very clear about the fact that the president has decided to do his own investigation after the National Assembly had investigated and given an interim report. The president wrote to the National Assembly saying the SGF has said you didn’t give him a fair hearing, so can you arrange that. So that was arranged. I think there was a misunderstanding initially, he (SGF) said he was going to court and then later decided to make himself available to the National Assembly. The Senate appointed a day on which he will come and they, on their own, changed it.
Maybe the president felt he needed his own investigation; the National Assembly’s final report has still not been received. So, maybe within the two weeks of the committee headed by the vice president, the National Assembly too might be ready with its report. But the president will look at everything. He’s not hasty; he’s not vindictive but very scrupulous. This is why he wanted to be very fair and follow due process in determining it, especially when you consider that SGF is the engine room of the whole administration; so you have to handle it with all sensitivity.
As for the NIA, you know the questions have been spelt out there in the statement. The president obviously wants to know who approved this kind of money – a large sum of money – and how it came to where it was found? It was saved in a private house – who owns it? What did they want to do with it? While the investigation is going on, he asked that they both step aside. Everything is in the statement.
If I will add anything to what the statement said, it is to say it has shown that the president has the courage to execute this war against corruption without fear or favour. People will say all sorts of things that there are sacred cows, that there are people who are protected, this and that. This single action today (Wednesday) is a clear manifestation of the determination of the administration to take this war against corruption to any level and that it will be prosecuted without fear or favour. People who are in government have better watch out because the president will not spare anyone.
I’m not aware that the Senate has a resolution asking for the removal of the SGF from the office. I’m not sure they have placed it as a demand on the government. But various individuals have given opinion on this matter. But to be fair to the president, the report from the Senate said it was an interim report. So no matter how quickly you want to act, it is better for you to have the full picture before you act.
The Senate has more in common with the executive than most people like to talk about. They both come from the same party – the APC. You know we have the leadership of the Senate, and the majority in the Senate and more and more senators are even coming over to our party. So the Senate has no more objective than the success of the executive arm of government.
The committee to be led by the vice president on improving ties with the National Assembly is not a committee to settle rifts because there are no known rifts. Incidents will always happen in the life of relationship between parliament and the executive. I think if I understand what the president meant by having that committee, it is that he will like to see the National Assembly and the executive being on the same page. I’m talking in terms of the philosophy and the ideological direction of the work they are both doing.
Well, I have been reading that it is neither here nor there, but I believe that the chairman of that committee, the vice president, takes that responsibility very seriously. Now that the National Assembly is back from Easter break, you probably will hear from the committee very soon.
No, that communication to the National Assembly was misconstrued by some people. The president never said he had cleared the SGF. What he said in the letter to the Senate was that ‘you have given me an interim report indicting this man, the man said he has not been heard by you; fairness demands that we should listen to him’ and the Senate did not argue with the president. They appointed the date on which they would hear him out but that hearing did not take place; it could still happen on an official date. So it is wrong to say that the president has cleared him, he never did.
After the suspension, the SGF met with the vice president after which he said he was not aware of the suspension. How will you react to that?
Well, I am not aware of that report. However, I want to say to you that by practice of the Buhari administration, he doesn’t allow a press release to be issued on your removal from office until you have been called to be informed. It is an act of decency so that you inform your family members; they don’t have to hear it on radio that something has happened to you. I’m sure an attempt was made earlier in the day to convey it to all the parties involved before the public announcement was made.
Let me tell you, if fighting corruption is a comedy, I think Nigerians should welcome it because those in the PDP were just sharing the resources of the country among themselves and the evidence is there. But under President Muhammadu Buhari, the EFCC is re-empowered by the whistle-blower policy of the administration; they are busy all over the place reclaiming what has been wrongfully taken from the nation’s treasury. If that is comedy, it is a welcome comedy.
Corruption is like the cancer cell; if it affects any part of the body, remove it otherwise it will affect everywhere. In fact, we are blocking the loophole through which our money was siphoned.
This country will not grow or develop so long as corruption becomes the ground norm acceptable form of behavior. So Magu has the courage, energy and the capacity to execute this work, which is why the president has confidence in him.
The president will soon make his position known; you know the vice president explained quite a bit of this. The president may re-present Magu or he may decide that another person may equally do the work. As it is at the moment, the decision is entirely left for him to take – whether he goes forward with Magu again or to substitute him with another candidate. But as it is, Magu continues as the acting EFCC Chairman carrying out the mandate of the office.
I’m sure you are aware that at some point, the president asked the Attorney-General of the Federation to look at both allegations made against the SGF and Magu. This is going back several months ago. The president re-presented Magu for the second time after he has ordered that investigation. What does that tell you? Either that the president is convinced that those allegations were not weighty enough to warrant his disqualification or maybe there were other considerations or factors that will warrant him to re-present Magu for screening which unfortunately was not successful.
As I said earlier, the president decides.