This is the official blog of the Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization which promotes, protects and projects the rights of Muslims. This group condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. Its motto is 'Dialogue, Not Violence'
Sunday, July 10, 2016
CORRUPTION: LEARN FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
CORRUPTION: LEARN FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
Although the current war against corruption is sanitizing the military as
an institution and compelling politicians to adopt transparency, dark clouds
continue to gather in the horizon as allegations of vendetta and lopsidedness
are being leveled against President Muhammadu Buhari.
We of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) dismiss these allegations as
attempts to blackmail the president. The aim is to force him to soft-pedal or
halt the ongoing trials of powerful politicians thereby giving corruption
undeserved victory. We insist that the trials must continue to a logical
conclusion. The law must be allowed to take its due course. Any goat that
desires freedom or peace must keep the people’s yam at arm’s length.
Alleging vendetta or
lopsidedness is just like ignoring the tangential to address the phenomenal.
The question Nigerians should be asking is: were the offences committed? The offender’s
political party, his religion or tribe should be ignored once this has been
established. What we need to face is the substance in the allegation and not
shadows or primordial sentiments.
There is an urgent need
to learn from other countries. How were they able to stem the tide of
corruption? Did they revert to claims of vendetta, partisanship, ethnicity or
religion? Did they defend the thief because he comes from their city or state?
Did they defend the indefensible? Let us look at a few examples.
In the United States, Robert McDonnell, former Governor of Virginia, was
indicted on charges of accepting illegal gifts and convicted in 2014. John
Rowland, former governor of Connecticut, spent ten months in jail in 2004 for
diverting public funds to pay for his vacations and other extravagances. Alabama
governor, Don Siegleman, bagged an 88-month jail term for mail fraud and
obstruction of justice in 2006. Ex-Congressman Frank Balance was sentenced to
four years in prison on October 12, 2005 for
conspiring to defraud taxpayers.
Britain, David Chaitor, former member of the British parliament, got 18 months
in 2011 for false accounting. In Greece, former defence minister, Akis
Tsochatzopoulos was jailed for 20 years in 2001for receiving bribe. The court
also jailed his wife, Vicky, and daughter, Areti, for 12 years each. His former
wife, Gudrun, was sent to prison for six years. In Ukraine, former president
Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in 2011. In China, former
security chief Zhou Yongkang, was recently sentenced to life in prison for
bribery and abuse of power.
In all the above examples from the
United States, Britain, Greece, Ukraine and China, nobody raised the issue of
vendetta, vindictiveness, ethnicity or religion. The concern of all was whether
or not the crime was committed. The focus was to safeguard the national
treasury. The offenders were punished. Other public office holders and the rest
of the citizens learnt the rules of probity and accountability and the
countries moved on to greatness.
in Nigeria political parties allege vendetta and lopsidedness. Agents of
corrupt politicians, members of their families, people from their states and
those who benefit from stolen funds are allowed to have a field day. This is
not the road to El Dorado. We must face the war against corruption squarely and
shun partisanship, ethnicity, religion and self-interest. Our focus must be our
country and how to move it forward. Let us ignore the thief’s tribe and
religion. Let us look at the crimes committed by them against the masses. Let
corrupt politicians go to jail and stop using lame excuses to defend them.
A socio-economic scenario whereby 1% of the Nigerian population has
arrogated 85% of the resources to themselves leaving a paltry 15% to the
remaining 99% of the population is unacceptable. It is serfdom. It is economic
deprivation.It has caused stampede among the poor. 99% of
the Nigerian population runs after 15% of the nation’s wealth. It has caused
acute poverty. Corrupt politicians have siphoned away all the milk and honey in
the land. We must stop defending them.
How can a single military officer store billions of naira in a water tank
in his private house? How do we explain a single woman using stolen public
funds to purchase a whole ship (an oil tanker for that matter)? Where is the
conscience of a state governor who siphoned about N1.6 billion within six
months of getting into office and uses this fund to amass personal properties
How can any civilized citizenry overlook the crime of army generals who
allowed the massacre of thousands by Boko Haram by pocketing billions of naira
meant for fighting the insurgency? So what is there to defend in the face of
indubitable evidence and admissions of guilt in many cases?
As we round up, we charge
the international community to ignore the false alarm being raised by the
opposition party in Nigeria. The claim of vendetta and lopsidedness in the war
against corruption in Nigeria is baseless. It is a war against ‘fantastically’
We call on Nigerians to learn
from other countries and to eschew partisanship, ethnicity and religion in the
war against corruption.
This is the time to renew support for the war against corruption. There
lies the survival of future generations of Nigerians. This country is doomed if
we allow corruption to defeat transparency.
Finally, we appeal to the press, columnists, civil society and opinion
leaders to remain focused and avoid the company of corrupt politicians. Looters
are influential people and they are capable of exploiting the widespread
poverty (caused by them ab initio) to
buy publications, sponsor articles and influence opinions. The masses are
watching and the integrity of the press is at stake here.
For the sake of Nigeria, therefore,
let us resist the ephemeral temptations offered by these heartless plunderers.
Let us unite against the monster called corruption and speak with one voice. A
people united can never be defeated.
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)