President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday recalled events leading to his ouster as Nigeria’s military head of state and eventual incarceration for three years by a military government that succeeded him.
Mr Buhari’s short stint as Nigeria’s military ruler ended in August 1985 following a palace coup by unhappy elements within the military ranks led by his Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Babangida.
He said it was a battle he lost against corruption.
Speaking at the commissioning of new office complex for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Buhari repeated his claim that his removal was due to his stance against corruption.
He said he is not deterred by the notion that when you fight corruption, corruption would fight back.
“My first attempt to fight corruption, corruption fought back successfully. I was removed from office and detained for three years,” he said.
The president said in spite of that experience, his “objective of fighting corruption remained steadfast.”
Mr Buhari explained that since his coming to office as elected president in 2015, he has made “very conscious decisions” to pursue the fight against corruption.
Citing recoveries of “trillions” of naira he said his government has made from corrupt officials, the president gave himself a pass mark, saying he has made “significant progress” in the fight against corruption.
He said there is now a realisation that “corrupt officials would be brought to justice no matter how long it takes.”
In indirect response to allegations of bias in the government’s fight against corruption, Mr Buhari said his administration “never intended and does not engage in with-hunting” but “will call people to account within the law.”
He urged the National Assembly to “add more verve” to the government’s effort by “reviewing archaic provisions” that would address lapses in the legal frameworks.