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Nigerian Education Minister Fired in Corruption Row

Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo has fired his education minister amid allegations of widespread bribery involving ministers and lawmakers. Mr. Obasanjo says tough action is needed to clean up Nigeria's corrupt image.

The Nigerian leader started out a speech against corruption late Tuesday by announcing the firing of the minister, Fabian Osuji.

"The minister of education is dismissed from office and he will be handed over to the ICTC for necessary follow up action," he said.

The ICTC is the acronym for the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offenses Commission.

Mr. Osuji is accused of bribing lawmakers with over $400,000 to pass this year's inflated education budget. Mr. Obasanjo said the money had been recovered and that the implicated lawmakers, including Senate President Adolphus Wabara, will also be investigated.

"It is a disheartening event that the number three man in the government hierarchy in the country is involved in this sordid matter,” he added. “It is an action that violates all known norms of good governance, progressive leadership, integrity and credibility."

None of the men accused were immediately available for comment.

The scandal erupted earlier this year when a lower-house lawmaker was quoted as saying his colleagues took bribes from ministers and heads of government agencies before passing budgets. The whistleblower was suspended for a month.

But, Tuesday Mr. Obasanjo appealed to all Nigerians to join his anti-corruption crusade, which has picked up in his second elected mandate.

"I want to appeal to all Nigerians that the fight against corruption in all its ramifications is a relentless one and should involve all citizens," he said.

Earlier this week, Nigeria's president released a statement saying the legislature cannot in his words "wallow in corruption" and expect the outside world to take his pleas for relief on its $35 billion debt seriously.