- Rule of law not defence for corruption suspects – Minister
All Progressives Congress, APC led Federal Government will neither compromise in its fight against corruption nor succumb to pressure from those alleging that the government has abused the rule of law by detaining suspected corrupt persons.
Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said yesterday that government will sustain the fight against corruption within the confines of the Rule of Law and warned that the Rule of Law was not intended to be used as a weapon to hamper the dispensation of justice.
Speaking at a symposium organised by the Gani Fawehinmi Students’ Chamber of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, the minister said, “In response to the ongoing anti-corruption efforts of the government, an increasing number of voices have emerged in defence of suspects being indicted for various acts of corruption by the courts of law under the banner of upholding the rule of law.
“Let me stress that the Rule of Law is not and was never intended to be used as a line of defence for suspects undergoing trial for corrupt practices in the courts of law that are lawfully constituted and endowed with the legitimate authority to carry out same trial.”
He insisted that there was nothing questionable in the administration’s approach to fighting corruption, adding: “The government is bound by law and is following the Rule of Law in its anti-corruption efforts. Were this not the case, the accused persons so far charged would not be having their day in court.”
Mohammed said each society had used methods expedient to it to fight corruption at different times in their own history, citing the example of Singapore which once fought corruption by suspending rule of law and fundamental rights.
“The current Nigerian government has not requested for emergency powers to tackle corruption, even though some school of thought unequivocally believes that Nigeria is in an emergency, with high unemployment, unpaid salaries, reduced income, insurgency, reduced oil income and primitive looting of the treasury by the immediate past administration,” he stated.
Further, he said the battle against corruption is a constitutional imperative, and quoted Section 15 (5) of the Constitution, that says: “The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of office,” he noted stressing that President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to stamp out corruption in Nigeria.
Discussants at the symposium, including Femi Falana and Jiti Ogunye, expressed support for the anti-corruption battle, saying those who are charged with corruption cannot use the bogey of the Rule of Law to escape justice.