President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption adviser, Itse Sagay, has said the anti-graft war of the administration is “pure”, regardless of growing criticisms over the government’s handling of corruption allegations against top officials.
Mr. Sagay said this in the wake of the the controversial re-integration of Abdurasheed Maina, futigitive former pension chief, into the civil service.
Mr. Sagay said critics were being “extremely unreasonable” and desperate to find fault.
We had last week broken news of the shocking recall and promotion of Mr. Maina, which had been shrouded in secrecy by the authorities, including the Ministries of Justice and Interior, and the Office of Head of Service of the Federation.
Mr. Maina was in 2013 dismissed by the Federal Civil Service Commission following allegations of leading massive corruption to the tune of N2 billion in his capacity as chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team.
Afterwards he turned fugitive, as the Police and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission sought his arrest.
Since the news of his secret recall was broken, the Buhari administration has faced harsh criticisms of its major boast – anti-corruption fight – with many accusing Mr. Buhari of lacking the will to act against officials of the government under serious allegations of corruption and abuses.
But Mr. Sagay, a senior lawyer and professor of Law, disagreed, saying critics were being unreasonable and only desperate to find fault in Mr. Buhari’s anti-corruption commitment.
“People who are determined to find wrong will find it no matter how pure the situation is,” said Mr. Sagay in interview with Premium times on Saturday.
He continued: “Maina escaped out of this country under Jonathan. When he was sneaked back into the country, did Buhari know about it? The first time he knew he ordered that the man be dismissed and arrested. What more do you want him to say? I think people are extremely unreasonable.”
Although Mr. Buhari was assessed as acting quickly enough to “order immediate disengagement” of Mr. Maina, a lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, said the president lacks such powers.
“That was a populist extrication from a hot scandal,” said Mr. Ogunye.
Speaking further, Mr. Sagay faulted the demand that the Interior Minister, Abdulrahman Dambazzau and the Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, be fired for their role in the recall.
“These are early days. Inquiries are going on to find out the role of everybody. He is not going to fire anybody without getting all the sides. Do you know he even wrote the Head of Service? It is when investigation is concluded, that you start hearing action being taken,” said Mr. Sagay.
Mr. Buhari has since Monday received report on the process of the recall from Head of Service, Wilfred Oyo. But he is yet to act.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sagay has denied resigning from his role as the chairman of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Advisory Committee, PACAC.
“It is absolutely untrue,” he said. “I dey kampe!”