EMINENT Nigerians and groups were unanimous, yesterday, in their support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s vow to probe the immediate past Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration.
They were, however, divided over the scope, time-frame and those to be probed. While some wanted the probe to be limited to the Jonathan administration, some countered that it should be extended to all past governments. There were also calls that the probe should be extensive, thorough, transparent and devoid of witch-hunt.
Speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, weekend, President Buhari, who said he met a near empty treasury on assumption of office, restated his decision to probe the Jonathan’s government to recover the billions of dollars that have not been accounted for.
Last week, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) asked President Buhari to probe the immediate past administration over the $5.5bn dividends said to have been paid to the Federal Government by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited. It also wanted taxes and dividends accruable to the Jonathan administration through the NLNG in the last six years unearthed.
When the issue of probe was first mentioned late May, Dr. Jonathan urged President Buhari not to focus only on his administration, saying it would amount to a witch-hunt if only his administration was probed. He had said, “I think in Nigeria, there are a lot of things that will be probed, very many things, even debts owed by states and debts owed by this country from 1960 up to this time. They say it is Jonathan’s administration that owed these debts… I believe that anybody that is coming for probe must also ensure that this probe is extended beyond the Jonathan administration. Otherwise, to me, it will be witch-hunt. If we are very sincere, it is not only the Jonathan administration that should be probed.”
It’s an attempt to recover our stolen wealth—Sagay
Throwing his weight behind the move, Constitutional lawyer, Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, said the planned probe is an avenue to recover the nation’s stolen wealth from those who pilfered the country’s treasury.
Sagay said: “The way I see it is this: the Buhari administration met a virtually empty treasury. The treasury has been looted in various guises, the NNPC has been a source of massive looting. As far as I am concerned, I will not call what he is doing as probing of any administration, it is an attempt to recover Nigeria’s stolen wealth so that the administration can work. I truly support it.
“In the process of trying to recover the stolen money, if he has to probe any government, present or past, let him probe, but the money has to be recovered. People should not come into government and now suffer from some sort of amnesia and think that state funds belong to them personally while the country is living in pains and poverty as we are now. Salaries cannot be paid in so many states, so Buhari is right in his struggle to recover our stolen wealth.”
Presidency should probe, but no witch- hunt – PDP
The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said, yesterday, that the Presidency was free to probe past administrations but warned that the exercise must not be carried out with malice, designed to witch-hunt some persons who worked under Dr. Jonathan.
Speaking withVanguard, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said the investigation must be within the ambit of the law and respect for fundamental human rights of citizens, adding that a government must plan for the future and not necessarily spending its energy looking into the past.
According to Metuh, the current government should allow some persons carry out the investigation while it concentrates on providing services to the people especially in the area of addressing the security challenge in some parts of the country. Metuh said: “It is the right thing to probe and investigate but there must be respect for fundamental human rights of the people. It must be carried out within the confines of the law, there must be no witch-hunt. There must be plans for the future, the government can go ahead with the probe, but must put forward those things that will move the country forward because very soon, Nigerians will be asking questions on insecurity, incessant arrest, the state of the dollar, among others.”