Nigerians are reportedly hailing news that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) is beginning investigation into allegations of corruption against former President Olusegun Obasanjo during his rule. They say although the investigation is a welcome development, the timing is questionable after various accusations of graft practices were leveled against the former president.
The ex-president ruled Nigeria for eight years, until 2007. He is facing various allegations of graft charges and mismanaging billions of naira meant for power projects and other resource allocation undertakings. But Nigerians are skeptical the investigation can yield any incrementing evidence against the former president, since they claim he appointed current officeholders before stepping down as president last year.
From the capital, Abuja Nigerian economist Chudi Chukwuani tells reporter Peter Clottey that the investigation is long overdue.
"The simple reaction of every single Nigerian is that it is highly overdue. I believe that what justice Ayoola the chairman of ICPC is doing is trying to buy some time and cover his tracks. You will recall that justice Ayoola was personally appointed to that position by President Obasanjo, and there have been several positions that have been sent to him (Ayoola) in the past. And he sat on it and did nothing about them," Chukwuani noted.
He said Nigerians are not only apprehensive, but also question the timing of the investigation.
"There were so many illegal acts, unconstitutional acts, conflicts of interests that were there. There were so many allegations, but the ICPC did nothing so, one wonders why they (ICPC) are suddenly waking up at this late hour. I believe that the driving motive is the fallout of what happened to (ousted anti-corruption chief Nuhu) Ribadu in EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) because the same position that was taken by ICPC by turning a blind eye on these illegal acts were also done by Ribadu. So, everybody is looking at this latest tirade from the ICPC with great suspicion because we believe this is just a lip service," he said.
Chukwuani said the former president should be made to face the full rigors of the law if he is found to be complicit in graft allegations leveled against him.
"He has to face the full wrath of the law. The law is there. The penalties are there for such acts and they have to be fully executed. If you will recall the chairman of TRANSCORP went to the House of Representatives select committee hearing and declared that, yes, the former president owns 200 million shares of TRANCORP. So, these are admitted illegal acts both by the principal actor and by his cohorts. Those things are in the public domain. It is in the records of the national assembly," Chukwuani pointed out.
He described as unfortunate suggestions that former presidents should also be investigated.
"That does not hold water at all because if you have any petition and any allegation against anybody then you should go and table it. If you recall in the past most of the other people several allegations have been tabled, which came to naught. So that is not a justification for a sitting president to commit an illegal act. It is just like saying in the United States that if President George Bush is found wanting in any of his acts, an action while in office, then all the American presidents must also be investigated. It doesn't hold water. You know, we are dealing with issues that are on the current national discourse, and these were things that were admitted to," he said.
Chukwuani said it was apparent the former president might have violated the constitution he swore to protect.
"He was the chief executive of Nigeria and he single handedly gave approval to TRANSCORP, a company in which he was the majority shareholder. That is clearly a violation of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria," Chukwuani noted.