The All Progressives Congress (APC) and other eminent Nigerians have hailed Nigerian workers and the Civil Society for standing up firmly against corruption, describing the workers’ open demonstration of support for the Federal Government’s battle against corruption as a major boost to the anti-graft fight.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Friday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said Nigerian workers’ unambiguous stand against corruption is also a clear repudiation of all those who have attempted to politicise the battle either by insinuating selectivity or saying the government should face governance instead of dwelling on the fight against corruption.
It said: ‘’Thursday’s nationwide demonstrations by Nigerian workers and the civil society in support of the anti-corruption battle is the clearest indication yet that corruption is now seen for what it is—a vice to be condemned and punished rather than something to be venerated and celebrated.
“The growing intolerance for corruption among Nigerians is also a clear example of what a nation can achieve under a committed, sincere, purposeful and focused leadership.’’
APC said the delivery of good governance is seriously hampered by corruption, hence the cankerworm, which it said has eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian society, is the main reason why millions of unemployed youths cannot get jobs, hospitals lack necessary equipment and drugs, infrastructural deficit is worsening and social services are almost non-existent.
The party added: ‘’A huge chunk of the billions of naira budgeted annually for all sectors of the economy end up in private pockets. Little wonder that the economy has been in the doldrums over the years despite the trillions of naira earned by the country from crude oil sales alone.
‘’It is therefore baffling that some people, for whatever reasons, have decided to engage in sophistry in their attempt to distract the government from combating graft.
“Thursday’s nationwide anti-graft rally by Nigerian workers and the civil society has shown that Nigerians are not buying such fallacy.’’
It recalled the promise made by President Muhammadu Buhari in his inaugural speech on 29 May 2015, that his Administration would tackle head on the serious challenges facing the country, including insecurity and pervasive corruption, and appealed to all Nigerians to continue to give their unalloyed support to the administration in its determination to surmount the challenges.
Also speaking, Chief LadiWilliams (SAN) hailed the action of the workers. He said the NLC has the right to make the demands for death sentence for all corrupt public officials, but regretted that “our statute does not have provision for capital punishment.
“The demand is therefore inconsistent with our constitution. Until the law is amended, I don’t think a judge has the power to pass death sentence on anybody.
“The demand is what I call the Chinese option. In spite of this, I agree that something drastic needs to be done about the state of corruption in the country.
“Some people have been known to reach out to adjudicators to compromise them. On several occasions, the accused are either freed or given a slap in the hand.
“It is a murderous cruelty for any of these people to get away with even a dollar from what they have stolen.”
He added: “They are also right in kicking against the use of perpetual injunction by corrupt officials to restrain anti-corruption agencies from prosecuting them. But I will say that due process must be followed.
“I am also of the opinion that perpetual injunction should not be allowed in our fight against corruption. I find it difficult for anybody to prevent investigation of corrupt officials and something has to be done about it.
“If we don’t do anything about corruption, we would remain in poverty perpetually.”
The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on war Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, described the protest as a step in the right direction, but frowned at the call for death penalty.
“The demand for death penalty for corrupt officials is a bit extreme. I have always been guided by the fact that once a life is taken, it can’t be restored,” he said, adding: “I totally support the campaign against the use of restraining injunction by corrupt people to prevent being prosecuted. Any judge who issues that should be regarded as guilty of gross misconduct and his job put on the line.
“I am however against going to their houses to bring them out because it would amount to physical violence. It should be left in the hands of the Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC).
“Such a judge should be queried and dismissed from office for promoting corruption. “
In a separate interview, Enechi Onyia (SAN), said the protest was in order because it is geared towards curbing corruption in the country.
“The Federal Government should take all of that and decide what is good for the country. It is the fundamental right of any Nigerian to go to court for whatever he wants. It is the court that can decide whether to grant the request or not,” he said.
Also commending the NLC, Barrister Fred Agbaje, a human rights activist, asserted that the “right to fair hearing should not make the court to blindly accede to the request of one man against the interest of the country.
“I support the NLC on their protest against the use of perpetual injunction by corrupt officials to avoid prosecution. Judges should weigh the interest of the larger society and the need to curb corruption as enshrined in section 15 of the constitution.
“I also support the demand for capital punishment for corrupt officials, irrespective of what some governors are saying. I am not an apostle of death penalty, but if that is what will stop or reduce corruption, so be it.”