All Progressives Congress (APC) Deputy National Chairman (South) Segun Oni explained yesterday why the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government will bypass the rule of law in the anti-corruption fight.
He said such procedure has never achieved any positive result in the past.
Oni challenged those accusing officials of the present government of corruption to come forward with evidence, assuring that their petitions would be handled with dispatch.
Speaking with reporters at the APC national secretariat in Abuja, the former Ekiti State governor said leaving the fight against corruption in the hands of those who cannot prosecute it would amount to admitting failure on the part of the government.
He challenged critics of the government of violating the rule of law to come up with an alternative way of achieving success in the anti-graft crusade.
Oni said: “If the rule of law is left to be what it is, nothing will happening. If you leave this war in the hand of people who would not be able to prosecute it, it means we give up and God forbid that we should fail.
“People are talking about rule of law and so on. How much have we achieved by rule of law? Are they saying there is no corruption? If there is corruption, what has been achieved in terms of stopping it? Or we should now say we cannot stop it? Then we should institutionalise it.
“At one stage, there must be a stop. In Rawlings’ Ghana, he applied certain measures. God forbid that in Nigeria. May be we should leave things until people get so frustrated and resort to self-help. Things cannot continue the way they are because everybody knows the corrupt people, but everybody is keeping their voices low even when they know corrupt people.
“Don’t lawyers know corrupt judges? Don’t judges also know corrupt judges? If the system within the judiciary is unable to deal with this, so nobody should talk? People would get so frustrated that the people out there would come out in arms against the whole system and God forbid that.
“So, what we are trying to do now is to prevent the collapse of the whole system and people taking laws into their hands. If the National Judicial Council (NJC) had been able to deal with the issue of corruption decisively in such a way that people are very confident, I am sure this would probably not be necessary.
“But not much has been done and people are frustrated. The whole system is complaining; people are complaining. I want to see how Nigerian judges or lawyers could raise their hands and say, there is no corruption.
“Nobody has defended the system so far. Even the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) has not defended the system and say there is no corruption.
“What people are talking about is how we are going about it. Let them come up with an alternative ways of achieving that. Once they tell us, we assure you we will fish out all corrupt people out of this system within six months.
“Give us this time, then there would be no need for any extra measures.
“But if we don’t have such of an assurance from anywhere, we have to continue to do what we believe is the right way to go about it. This is an extra-ordinary circumstance and people should see it as such.”
Oni expressed confidence that Nigerians knew that the APC-led Federal Government was very serious and sincere about fighting corruption.
He said: “From the reaction so far, I think that people are happy that we are taking the fight to the doorstep of corruption.
“We, therefore, expect Nigerians to become more and more demanding, because the moment they know that their voices also can count, they would continue to raise their voices against corruption and Nigeria would be better up for it.”
On the claims that the government has not adhered to the principle of separation of power as enshrined in the constitution and the non-prosecution of serving officials accused of corruption, Oni said this was the first time the fight against corruption was being extended to other arms of government.
The party chief said: “You see the people who had been taken in so far were from the corridors of the executive whether they are in this government or previous government.
“Don’t forget, the Executive are always the first people – politicians – they are always the first people.
“Since we have been prosecuting people for corruption, how many judges have been brought before EFCC over the years? Is it an indication that the judiciary had been clean? How many legislators were brought before EFCC? It has always been the executive.
“Even when you talk of civil servants, how many civil servants have ever been brought? So, this is not a war directed in any particular direction. If you know corrupt people even in this government, if you have evidence, come up and let’s us see whether government would keep quiet.”