Several anti-corruption organizations are vowing to
continue their pursuit of 31 Nigerian state governors and former President
Olusegun Obasanjo, who were exonerated Wednesday by Nigeria’s chief
investigative arm of corruption charges.
Accusations against the
officials, who were singled out for the massive looting of state treasuries,
were dropped after a lengthy probe by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC). Auwal Musa
Rafsanjani is director of the anti-corruption group Transparency International
Nigeria and national coordinating chairman of Nigeria’s Zero Corruption
Coalition. He says that investigators are encouraging further abuse
by public officials for misdeeds that have clearly been substantiated.
is naturally the right time for them to make this political settlement and it
is rather giving encouragement for more officials to loot their states, since
they know they will be cleared. It is
absolutely wrong for this commission to come out and tell Nigerians that these
people, who have been indicted before by the same commission, they are now
being cleared for political reasons,” he said.
state governors have long enjoyed immunity from prosecution while in
office. Rafsanjani says public pressure
had been building for a long time for the government’s chief anti-corruption
agency, the EFCC to take action to root out widespread evidence of diversion of
public coffers once the state executives gave up their gubernatorial posts.
issue is very clear. The commission has
very early on investigated, and they found out that they have looted their
state treasuries. So it is not something
that requires any magic. It is
something that has been established.
There are a lot of records and evidences of these governors looting in a
reckless manner their states and therefore, it is surprising to us to hear that
the EFCC is clearing these state governors,” he said.
the expiration of the governors’ terms, another Nigerian investigative body,
the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) decided to probe looting
allegations against a total of 33 former chief executives. The length and high profile of the
government’s probe is expected to draw public outrage that yesterday’s almost
blanket dismissal was politically motivated.
International’s Rafsanjani says he sees several options being exercised that
will ensure that the federal government will pursue additional criminal charges
against the governors.
are three ways. One, is to have the
political will from the central government.
If the president is committed to fight against corruption, it is
becoming to squarely deal with those who have looted the state. That is one issue. The second issue is for the international community to help us to
ensure that all those who have been found guilty of looting the state or their
local governments, or even at the national level, they should also impose
sanctions on them. The third thing is
the Nigerian people will consider to resist these leaders, even though the
Nigerian government claims to have cleared those people. The Nigerian people have not cleared them,
because they have been the ones who are the victims,” he noted.
for two-time former Nigerian ruler Olusegun Obasanjo’s eight year presidential
term (1999-2007), Rafsanjani says his legacy is forever clouded with doubts
about integrity and the failure to end abuse by his political allies. Rafsanjani says he believes the public will
deny the former general a privilege of serving as Nigeria’s elder statesman.
far as former President Obasanjo’s future role is concerned, it’s over, it’s
over. It’s done. It’s over. Because he has abused the opportunity he had
for a good eight years to be able to be recognized as a solid leader, not only
in Nigeria, but also in Africa. Therefore,
he has lost the respect. He has lost the statesmanship that most people would
want to give him. So as far as his own
case is concerned, it’s over,” stated Rafsanjani.