* Says his objective in anti-graft war remains steadfast
* ‘Corrupt officials ‘ll be held accountable no matter how long’
President Muhammadu Buhari has described the fight against corruption as a delicate war, saying that his first attempt to fight corruption in the country; corruption fought back as he was removed from office and detained for three years.
Buhari said that throughout his journey in national service and since 2015, he has made a very conscious decision to pursue a vigorous fight against corruption in public life.
He added that he was released from detention three years after because of the death of his mother and with an effort of a journalist from Benin
The President disclosed this on Tuesday at the commissioning of the new corporate headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at Jabi, Abuja.
He said, “This is another milestone in our determined and collective fight against corruption.”
He said that despite his ill treatment in the past by the corrupt persons in the country, he remained steadfast in his objective in the fight against corruption and would stop at nothing to ensuring that Nigeria is rid of such dreaded monster.
Buhari said, “Since 2015, we have made significant progress in the fight against corruption. Everyone now knows that corrupt officials will be held to account, no matter how long it takes.
We have recovered and are still recovering trillions of naira that were stolen in the past few years by people without conscience.
He said his administration was pursuing recoveries everywhere and was making sure that anyone who has been found culpable is made to answer for his or her crime under the law.
The President said, “War of corruption is not an easy one to fight, because it affects so many different branches of our lives, so much that some people do not even consider breaking trust is anymore a crime.
It has become the norm. We must Change our ways of handling public trust. Corruption not only kills governments but destroys societies.
“It is my hope and expectation that the judiciary, which is a critical stakeholder and partner in the war against corruption, would continue to collaborate with the Executive to bring corrupt people to book.
“Permit me to also seize this opportunity to call on the Legislature which provides the legal framework for the anti-corruption war to add more verve to the determination of government to rid our nation of the brazen corruption witnessed in recent years, through reviewing archaic provisions in our laws and proactive passage of new legislation.”
He noted that corruption was the major reason the nation is struggling with basic developmental issues that other comparable nations have long overcome.
According to him, the goal of his administration is to ensure the protection of public trust, and the anti-corruption war is at its centre.
“We never intended, and we are not engaged in witch-hunts, but we are determined within the laws to call people to account,” the President added.
Buhari appealed to Nigerians to support regulatory agencies like EFCC, saying, “Fighting corruption is everyone’s concern.”
He reiterated his call on the Judiciary and the National Assembly to join hands his administration’s effort to rid the country of corruption.
He said that quite a number of nations were signifying interest to “help us tighten their laws and enter into agreements with Nigeria to repatriate not only stolen funds but to make the culprits face due process of law.”
The President said Nigeria is committed to working with their “foreign friends” to stop the inflow of stolen funds from Nigeria into their countries and recovering what is there already. These assets, when repatriated will be put to building our infrastructure.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, who also expressed concern on the issue of Nigeria being labelled as “fantastically corrupt” said, “not all public officers are corrupt”.
In her remark, Secretary-General, Commonwealth, Baroness Patricia Scotland, commended the acting chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu for the doggedness and fearlessness deployed to the fight against corruption, describing the edifice as “unique in Africa”.
Also speaking, Thambo Mbeki, former President of South Africa, lend credence to the fact that the EFCC staff welfare needed to be upgraded.
“The people who work in this building are valuable. It is important the staff are looked after by empowering them, so that they can do what is expected of them and shun temptations”, he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, Magu described the commissioning of the new head office, as the beginning of a new phase of EFCC.
Describing the project as “a dream come true”, Magu acknowledged the accommodation problems faced by the Commission saying that ; “As we increase our scope, we are faced with accommodation problems. When I was appointed as acting chairman EFCC, I have always had the mind to bring this project to completion”.
He appreciated the contributions of his predecessors to the project and the political will of President Buhari in fighting corruption.
Magu said, “The anti-corruption thrust of the present administration is backed with political will and we, at the EFCC are ready to carry on with the fight in accordance with the rule of law”.
According to him, the EFCC had secured 89 convictions from January to date, while a total of 489 convictions had been recorded in the last two years. He said the EFCC had also recovered looted funds to the tune of over N500billion.
The event was graced by eminent personalities across the country including members of the Federal Executive Council, members of the National Assembly, members of the diplomatic corps, captains of industries and royal fathers.
The office, located on No.301/302 Research and Institution Cadastral, Jabi, Abuja, comprise a 10-storey office block, a forensic building, clinic, and male and female detention facilities.