As the fight against corruption gains momentum, investigation by Nigerian NewsDirect has revealed that five Ministers are currently on the watchlist of President Muhammadu Buhari over various petitions accusing them of corrupt practices.
In his first media chat, the President had vowed to sack any Minister found culpable of corruption. The President said, “I have been a democrat since 2002. I don’t think I tolerate corruption. I don’t think I have picked anybody that I know will embarrass my government. But if you have got evidence on any of my ministers, it is your right as a Nigerian citizen to tell them that you don’t want a, b or c in the cabinet because they have got a case in court. I don’t think I picked anybody as a minister who has a case of corruption in court”, he said.
Asked how the country is doing in the fight against corruption, Buhari said: “I think we are doing quite well, considering the circumstances. First, this will be best illustrated by my personal experience. Thirty years ago when I was in uniform as Head of State of Nigeria, we arrested people who were perceived to be corrupt and put them in protective custody and we told them they were not guilty until they could prove themselves innocent.
Now I am here in a different form, in a multi-party democratic system and the nation we are looking forward to for cooperation, under the circumstances we found ourselves security wise and economy wise believe that the only acceptable decision to them is those suspected to be corrupt are innocent until they are proven guilty.”
However, sources close to the Presidency told Nigerian NewsDirect that the President, whose major campaign tool was his anti-corruption stance has received many petitions against five of his Ministers but the President is closely monitoring their activities.
“The President has received several petitions against some Ministers, he is closely monitoring their activities and if anyone of them is found wanting, the President will surely wield the big stick against any erring Minister” the source who spoke under condition of anonymity told Nigerian NewsDirect.
But in an exclusive interview with Nigerian NewsDirect, the Chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay denied that his committee received petitions bordering on corruption against any Minister but affirmed that his committee received several petitions against some senior civil servants.
“We have not received any petition against any Minister but we have received petitions against some top civil servants, we have forwarded such petitions to various anti-graft agencies as applicable” Sagay said