President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday described corruption as the greatest human rights violation ever.
Justifying the reason why his administration is waging a large scale war against graft, Buhari said the effects of corruption were manifest in suffering, deprivation and death that innocent people were being exposed to.
According to a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the President spoke at the opening of the 55th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Abuja.
He called on Nigerian lawyers to support his administration’s war against corruption and help the country return to the path of rectitude by making Nigerian courts functional and effective again.
Noting that lawyers are often in the vanguard of the defence of human rights, Buhari urged them to view corruption too as a gross violation of human rights.
He said, “For the masses of our people, the millions still wallowing in want and diseases, corruption is a major reason why they cannot go to school; why they cannot be gainfully employed; and why there are few doctors, nurses and drugs in their hospitals and health centres.
“It is the reason why pensioners are not paid and potable water is scarce.
“In effect, corruption diverts public resources meant for millions of people into the private pockets of a greedy few, thereby causing a lot of suffering, deprivation and death.
“In my view, there can be no greater violation of human rights.
“Viewed in this way, I think we can all fully appreciate the gravity of this oppressive and destructive evil. This should rouse us to fight it with the same zeal and doggedness as we deploy in the defence of fundamental rights.”
The President also told the lawyers not to sacrifice the integrity of the country’s legal system in a bid to cover the misdeeds of their clients, no matter how lucrative the brief may be.
He said he was convinced that law, lawmakers, lawyers, law courts and law enforcement agencies had responsibilities to discharge, if the change Nigerians earnestly seek would ever materialise.