Human rights activists/constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) has scored the President Muhammadu Buhari administration low on anti-corruption fight, describing it as “mere window dressing”.
Ozekhome also surmised that Nigeria would be in trouble if it was not restructured, adding that “Nigeria will restructure us”.
He spoke on Tuesday at the 2018 Bar Week, currently going on in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital with the theme; ‘The Ideology of Restructuring in Nigeria: Legal, Political and Socio-Economic Imperative’.
In his paper entitled; ‘The Bar, Bench, Investigating Agencies and Anti-Corruption Campaign in Nigeria’, Ozekhome critically examined the anti-corruption war under Buhari, and concluded that the campaign was a ruse.
He, however, attributed the genesis of corruption to military incursion into the Nigeria’s political space, lamenting that the malaise has become hydra-headed and well entrenched to the extent that successive governments lack the courage to fight to a standstill.
“Corruption is not limited to the payment and receipt of bribes; it takes various forms and is practiced under all forms of government including established democracies”, he noted, adding that the vice permeate every strata of Nigeria’s public and private life.
According to Ozekhome, the Federal Government has continued to paint a picture of anti-corruption war being waged in the country, but pointed out that such action would only amount to nothing when the same system wallow in corruption and other vices.
He chided the Federal Government for what he described as fragrant abuse of human rights and frequent disregard to the rule of law, saying such act of impunity runs counter to the anti-corruption mantra of the President Buhari-led administration.
The Senior Advocate recalled that the wholesale introduction of corruption into the body politics of Nigeria by military governments forced former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to establish the two anti-corruption agencies (ICPC and EFCC), but regretted that such fight may never be won, after all.
“One thing that gained prominence during these many years of military rule in Nigeria was widespread corruption, assassinations, killings, money laundering and human rights abuses and gross unaccountability and impunity which became a culture well entrenched in Nigeria.
“Wanton corruption is unfolding in different shapes daily, but this has been given a new name in the shape of ‘corruption fighting back’, a term the government of the day prefer to adopt to explain away the violent disregard to the principle of separation of power and fragrant violations of fundamental human rights and rule of law…”, he said.
He noted that the widespread trampling on the rule of law has made nonsense of the anti-corruption war, pointing out that “democracy must float with the rule of law”.
The impunity of the Federal Government and the desecration of the temple of justice as could be seen in the disobedience to Courts orders, he explained, have hamstrung the judicial process not to be able to play its role as the hope for justice for everybody.
For instance, he pointed out that in the case of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Alhaii Sambo Dasuki, currently languishing in detention, Ozekhome, “the Federal Government has disobeyed the Court order for him to be released on bail for five times”, adding that such impunity has combined to make the judiciary a lame duck.
He, therefore, called for Nigeria to immediately be restructured to for every sections of the country to have a sense of belonging.