The National Peace Committee for the 2015 General Elections headed by former Head of State General Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd) says it is concerned about the process of the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The committee today met behind closed doors with the President Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Addressing State House journalists later, a member of the committee, Bishop of Sokoto Diocese Hassan Kukah said the position of the committee was that Nigeria was no longer in a military regime.
It is recalled that the committee had mid-wifed the signing of the peace accord between Buhari and his predecessor, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan ahead of the March 28 presidential election.
The committee met with President Buhari Yesterday barely five days after Jonathan had paid a secret visit to the president at his official residence in Aso Rock Villa.
President Buhari’s government had persistently insisted on recovering all the billions of funds said to have been stolen under the administration of Jonathan.
Kukah, while speaking to journalists on Abdulsalami’s behalf after yesterday’s meeting with Buhari, said the committee believed in the provision of the existing laws that everybody is innocent until proven guilty.
The clergyman was responding to a question on the view of the committee about Buhari’s administration’s stance on corruption.
Kukah, who affirmed that President Buhari’s anti-corruption war was not heating up the polity, stressed that the committee’s current efforts was to ensure that the right thing was done.
He said the committee was at the Villa to update President Buhari about “the relevance of the peace committee itself and how we can help to nurture what God has given to us”.
He also disclosed that in its recent conversation with Jonathan and political parties’ members, the committee realised that nobody was in favour of corruption or against Buhari’s commitment to fighting it.
“It (Buhari’s anti-graft war) is not heating up the polity. In our conversation with former 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 over a new leaf.
“I think what we are concerned about is 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”, he said.
Kukah dismissed the reports that Jonathan sought the committee’s intervention on the ongoing probe of his government.
He said: “Anybody is free to come to our committee, but former President Jonathan never, by telephone or another means, talked to the committee. We went to see him, but that was after we had already seen members of the political parties, members of the civil society. We planned to see the speaker because we couldn’t see him yesterday (Monday).
“This is a very 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”.
Asked why the committee’s intervention had become so necessary, Kukah said: “This is not an intervention, it is not a hearing out process. When we had the election, it was like a wedding. Now, the reality of government is now 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”.
Kukah also stated that Buhari had reaffirmed the need to retain the committee which, according to him (Kukah), is not policing, but helps to build confidence whenever the need arises.
“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, help to build confidence and in the process”, he said.
Members of the committee who attended the meeting alongside Abdulsalami, included the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’Ad Abubakar III and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.
Others were the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh; the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan; former President of the Nigerian Bar Association Mrs. Priscilla Kuye and Senator Ben Obi.
Our correspondent reports that the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, was also at the meeting.