The delay in deciding the fate of the suspended Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr Babachir Lawal, and Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, has continued to generate debate and attract criticism for the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration.
On Sunday, it was one of the President’s advisers that faulted the delay.
The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay, said in an interview on Channels Television that action has been “much too slow” and called for definitive action.
Despite faulting the pace of the probe, Professor Sagay has no doubt about the commitment of the government in fighting corruption.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the present government is actually fighting corruption in accordance with its mandate and promises. There is no question about that,” he said during an appearance on Sunday Politics with Seun Okinbaloye.
“But on the specific issue of the suspended Secretary to the Federal Government and the Director of the NIA, I would agree that action has been much too slow and there should be immediate decision on this matter so that we can put it to rest and move on. I agree with that.”
This comes more than five months after the President suspended SGF and NIA DG, pending the conclusion of investigation into separate allegations of corruption against them.
In suspending both men on April 20, 2017, President Buhari constituted a three-man committee comprising the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and the National Security Adviser, headed by the Vice President, to probe them and submit their report in 14 days.
It, however, wasn’t until August 23 that the report was submitted as the President travelled to London on May 7 and spent more than three months there on medical vacation.
More than one month after receiving the report, however, Nigerian have no idea what the findings of the committee are or when the President would take a decision on the report.
Beyond the criticism that has trailed the delay in deciding the fate of both the SGF and NIA DG, the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption war has been labelled selective with many people arguing that it is targeted at members of the opposition.
For Sagay, who believes the government is fighting corruption with “all its might and resources”, there is no justification for such a view.
“I think there is an even-handed approach to the issue of fighting corruption. Everybody who is suspected of corruption or the commission of economic and financial crimes will be investigated and the EFCC and the ICPC who are the bodies who are invested with the authority to act in such matters will act in accordance with their own priority,” he said.
“I think we should make it clear. We cannot handle all cases of corruption at the same time. As you know, in this country, cases of corruption go right from the top and permeate to the lowest level. So, there are hundreds of thousands of corruption cases. It makes sense for the agencies to choose what to pick and what to drop.”