Buhari says looters bent on undermining 2019 elections

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President Buhari and Osinbajo

President Muhammadu Buhari has alerted Nigerians on the activities of looters of the nation’s resources bent on undermining the forthcoming general elections “and by extension our democracy’’.

The President disclosed this in a special feature entitled; “Corruption threats Nigeria – and its Election” which he released on Sunday in Abuja.

He observed that the looters with powerful resources at their disposal, might frustrate smooth conduct of the elections because of their vested interests.

Buhari disclosed that already the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had raised concerns over laundered money being funnelled into vote buying.

He said: “This is the challenge of our generation: the variable on which our success as a nation shall be determined. But the vested interests at play can make this fight difficult.

“By way of their looting, the corrupt have powerful resources at their disposal. And they will use them. For when you fight corruption, you can be sure it will fight back.

“It even threatens to undermine February’s poll and – by extension – our democracy.

“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has raised concerns over laundered money being funnelled into vote buying. This is the problem of corruption writ large.

“It illustrates how it lurks in all and every crevice of public life, manipulating due process in pursuit of self-preservation and perpetuation; protecting personal political and economic interests at the expense of the common good.’’

The president noted that those who had criticised his administration’s anti-corruption drive were those who opposed its mission of fighting corruption to a standstill.

“And though their lawyers may craft expensive alibis, they cannot escape that which binds them together: a raft of documents and barely legal (some clearly illegal) mechanisms – whether that be the Panama Papers, US Congress reports, shell companies or offshore bank accounts,’’ he said.

Buhari, who vowed to intensify the fight against corruption, said this was informed by the fact that corruption corroded the trust on which the idea of community was founded, “because one rule for the few and another for everyone else is unacceptable to anyone working honestly.’’

According to him, as his administration intensifies war on corruption, corruption also innovates to resist the law.

He stated that though the administration had closed the door against the corrupt individuals, however, some of them were bent on opening windows to continue with their dubious activities.

He revealed that government had successfully repatriated hundreds of millions of dollars stowed away in foreign banks by looters of the national resources.

According to him, more is still to come from international partners in France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The president said that the recovered funds so far had been transparently deployed on infrastructural projects and used to directly empower the poorest in society.

“But as we have intensified our war on corruption, so we have found that corruption innovates to resist the law.

“This is not the sole domain of those Nigerians, but the international corruption industry: the unsavoury fellow-traveler of globalisation.

“Once the enablers are let in – as they have been in the past – the greed of those they collude with grows. We have closed the door on them, but unfortunately there still remain individuals who are willing to open windows.

“Concrete progress has been made, but there is still much to do. We have repatriated hundreds of millions of dollars stowed away in foreign banks,’’ he said.

The president also stated that the EFCC had secured high profile convictions, but greater cases remained.

According to the president, lawyers table endless objections to obstruct court proceedings, whilst their clients hope it lasts until a ‘friendly’ president is voted into office.

He, however, maintained that, “we must continue to tighten the legal framework and ensure the authorities have the investigative powers at their disposal to secure sentences.

“Only then will we begin to neutralise the advantages the corrupt have.’’