President Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to claims by the 49-member Senate Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party which on Thursday kicked against the current administration’s war against corruption, claiming it was selective and lacked transparency and fairness.
In a statement Sunday night, Mr. Buhari described the claims by the Godwill Akpabio-led caucus as “false, baseless and totally unjustifiable”.
Mr. Akpabio and his colleagues had at a press conference in Abuja Thursday alleged that the administration’s anti-graft war was mainly targeted at opposition politicians.
“The [PDP] caucus is not happy with the current trend that seems to suggest that the war against corruption is selective and targeted at PDP stalwarts and states,” the group said at the briefing.
“The current war lacks transparency, fairness to all and appears to be aimed at political adversaries.”
But in a statement via his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Sunday, Mr. Buhari said it was regrettable that “wild allegation of bias and partisanship” could come from respected and distinguished members of the Nigerian Senate.
Mr. Buhari said, “We have noted with regret, the allegation by members of the PDP Senate Caucus that the present administration is being selective and partisan in its prosecution of the war against corruption.
“We state without equivocation that the allegation is false, baseless and totally unjustifiable.
“For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, we affirm that having made his zero tolerance for corruption clear to all and sundry, President Muhammadu Buhari does not micro-manage or interfere in the daily work of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies.
“The wild allegation of bias and partisanship in the fight against corruption shouldn’t have come therefore from respected and distinguished members of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“That claim belongs to the past and not the present. Public officials and other leaders accused of corruption by relevant agencies should plead their innocence, not malice.
“President Buhari’s unwavering stance is that whosoever is charged with corruption should face the law irrespective of whether they are members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), or any other political party.
“As far as the President is concerned, corruption has no political party, no religion and no ethnic group.
“It is important to remind the PDP Senate Caucus and all Nigerians that right from 2003 when he started campaigning for the Presidency of Nigeria, President Buhari consistently promised to do his best to curb corruption in the country.
“The President remains wholly committed to fulfilling that promise and will not be deterred from the relentless prosecution of the war against corruption because he remains convinced that, as he has said, “unless Nigeria kills corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”.
The President also dismissed the claim by the caucus that he and his party were meddling in the ongoing cases at election tribunals and using the State Security Service to harass electoral officials believed to have sympathy for the PDP.
“The claim by the PDP Senate caucus that President Buhari and his administration are meddling in election petition cases through the Department of State Services (DSS) is also untrue,” Mr. Buhari said.
“The duties of the DSS and other security agencies are clearly spelt out in the laws establishing them. The Federal Government led by President Buhari does not give them instructions regarding their daily operations.
“Election Tribunals and the Independent National Electoral Commission in Rivers, Abia and Akwa-Ibom States do not operate under the guidance of the President.
“Any individual or group of individuals who think that their legitimate political and civil rights are infringed upon by the DSS or any institution is advised to seek protection and redress under our constitution and laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria instead of resorting to baseless allegations against the Buhari Administration.
“On President Buhari’s watch, the rule of law, not impunity, shall govern every aspect of life in Nigeria and there will be no room for sentiments, bias and corruption in the application of the laws of the land.
“President Buhari also wishes to re-assure all Nigerians that his administration will not discriminate against individuals or groups in the performance of its duties and that favours or patronage will not be dispensed on the basis of votes.
“The President remains committed to his Oath of Office and the letters and spirit of the constitution.
“He calls on all Nigerians to join hands with him in the fight against insecurity, corruption and impunity in Nigeria so that we can have a country that will prosper for the benefit of all of its citizens and future generations of Nigerians.