Abdusalami meets Buhari over fight against corruption, appeals for fairness
Members of the National Peace Committee for the 2015 General Elections led by a former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (retd.), on Tuesday met with President Muhammadu Buhari with an appeal to him to ensure that his administration follows due process in its anti-corruption war.
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah, spoke with State House correspondents at the end of the closed-door meeting held inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
There have been reports that former President Goodluck Jonathan had complained to the committee on the way the present administration had allegedly been victimising some of his aides on allegations of corruption.
Jonathan himself met with Buhari on Thursday evening on what many believed was on the same issue.
Kukah told journalists that from the encounter of the committee members with Jonathan and others, it was clear that no Nigerian is in support of corruption.
He said the concern was, however, that since the country was no longer under military rule, every accused person should be presumed innocent until found guilty by competent courts.
The clergyman said, “It (the way corruption war is being fought) is not heating up the polity.
“In our conversation with President Jonathan and members of the parties, I don’t think any Nigerian is in favour of corruption or is against the President’s commitment to ensuring that we turn a new leaf.
“I think what we are concerned about is the process. It is no longer a military regime and under our existing laws, everybody is innocent until proven guilty.
“Again, our own commitment is not to intimidate or fight anybody, the former President’s commitment and what he did still remains spectacular and I think that President Buhari himself appreciates that. So, our effort really is to make sure that the right thing is done.”
Kukah said committee members at the meeting with Buhari gave update about the relevance of the committee itself and how members could help to nurture the peace God has given to the country.
He confirmed that members of the committee had met with Jonathan after meeting with some political parties.
He claimed the meeting with Buhari was not at Jonathan’s instance, saying the parley was a continuation of a series of intervention aimed at getting feedbacks from the conduct of the last elections.
“Anybody is free to come to our committee but President Jonathan, never by telephone or other means, talked to the committee.
“We went to see him, but that is after we had already seen members of the political parties and members of the civil society.
“We planned to see the Speaker (of the House of Representatives) because we couldn’t see him yesterday. This is a planned series of intervention essentially just to hear out everybody and I think the good news is that Nigerians are committed to a new nation. They are committed to ensuring that the gains and blessings God has given us come to fruition,” he added.
Kukah said the meeting with the President was neither an intervention nor a hearing session.
He said Buhari also stated the need for the committee to continue to help build confidence when the need arises.
“This is not an intervention. It is not a hearing out process. When we had the elections, it was like a wedding. Now the reality of government is the marriage and people need to be encouraged.
“We need to reaffirm that this is our country and the only thing we can collectively be opposed to is injustice, iniquity, corruption and in that regard we all had one single conversation. The President has also reaffirmed the need for this committee to continue, and the international committee has very much welcomed the contributions of the committee.
“Essentially, we are not policing, but when the need arises, we will help to build confidence in the process,” he concluded.
Buhari and Jonathan signed a peace agreement ahead of the March 28 presidential elections at the instance of the peace committee.
Those who attended the meeting alongside Abubabakar, Buhari and Kukah include the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’Ad Abubakar III; the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor; Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh; Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan; a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mrs. Priscilla Kuye; Publisher of the Vanguard Newspapers, Chief Sam Amuka Pemu; National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Senator Ben Obi among others.
The meeting came a few days after Jonathan paid a secret visit to Buhari inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.