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Nigeria's Renewed Fight Against Corruption

In Nigeria, the war against corruption is about to enter a new phase. The chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says he will bring corruption charges against 24 state governors when their terms end next year. The governors currently enjoy constitutional immunity from criminal prosecution. Chairman Mallam Nuhu Ribadu spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty about who the governors are and what sort corruption charges he is likely to bring against them.

“What I said is that we are investigating a couple of governors, and we have up to 36 states in Nigeria and the investigation would reveal whether we have an indictment and indeed prosecution or not. But of course you know we have taken two governors already to court, one is in custody one is facing a trial.”

Ribadu would not reveal the names of the 24 governors being investigated because he says it would be prejudicial and could jeopardize his investigation. He says the Commission suspended most of its work during the constitutional amendment debate because it feared being labeled either for or against the debate.

Ribadu rejects suggestions by some that the Commission may be engaged in a “witch hunt” of enemies of President Olusegun Obsanjo.

“Witch hunt for what? The work we are doing is transparent. For God sake, we are trying to fix our country; we are trying to do what is right.… For years we have been branded as a corrupt country and our inability to do anything correctly. We are coming to address it…. We want to fix it.”

Ribadu says his commission intends to investigate prospective candidates in next year’s Nigerian presidential election.

“We are not going to say that we are targeting anybody or particular persons for such a thing. But the point is we are going to ensure that we are going to get clean people, honest people, transparent people, people who don’t have skeletons that will be able to come forward and be leaders in our country.”

Ribadu says the Commission has investigated allegations of corruption against President Obasanjo brought by the governor of Abia State. He adds that President Obasanjo submitted himself for such investigations.

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