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28 Oct 2017

Why Buhari is silent on corruption reports – Presidency

The Presidency has given reasons President Muhammadu Buhari has been quiet on cases of corruption involving members of his cabinet.
It also said that the Senate and the Ministry of Health panels that investigated the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, was lacking the powers to indict the top government officials.

This was disclosed by a Special Assistant to the President on Prosecutions, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla when he addressed questions on why President Bihari is silent on the reports before him.

The presidential aide maintained that a similar committee set up by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, which discovered that fraud to the tune of N919m allegedly took place under Yusuf as the NHIS boss, also lacked the power to investigate crime.

When asked how soon the President would take a decision on the SGF, Obono-Obla told Punch, “It is an administrative process because it was not clear if there was corruption or if there was an infringement on the economic or financial laws in the country.

“The Senate that attempted to investigate it did not have the power (to do so). It cannot investigate crime; the Senate can only carry out its oversight function to expose corruption , inefficiency, maladministration in the process of lawmaking.

“It (Senate) should report to the ICPC; it should report to the EFCC. An administrative panel of enquiry (the Osinbajo-led panel ) has submitted its report to the President. After that, a committee would be set up to review and then come out with a White Paper.

“It is not automatic. A White Paper would be the government’s position on the issue. The committee can make 10 recommendations and the White Paper may accept two. So, the President is in that process of coming out with a report.

“So, the President must follow due process before coming to a conclusion. Even if that report comes out, the President does not have powers to investigate the crime.

“The Nigeria Police Force, EFCC, ICPC, and so on are the only bodies that have powers to investigate the crime. That matter has to be investigated and if a prima facie case is established , then that person can be taken to court. Nigerians must just be patient.”

He, however, said the Presidency was in the process of coming up with a report on the suspended SGF’s matter.

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