Buhari waves

Dictator Buhari Silent as Defence Minister is Named in $550,000 Fund Diversion

Nigeria’s civilian dictator Muhammadu Buhari has come under heavy criticism for his failure to act in the indictment of his Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, over a $550,000 security fund diversion.

Premium Times on August 28 exclusively revealed how Magashi, a retired major-general, while in service, got a slash from the infamous ‘Abacha Loot,’ estimated by Transparency International to be at least $5 billion, out of which $3 billion has been recovered.

At the time, a presidency official, who asked not to be named because he has no permission to grant media interviews, said, “I can tell you that there is no way the president would have ignored that kind of matter to appoint him if he were made aware.”

But 123 days after, Buhari continues to ignore the findings in the report. The Guardian reported on Monday that presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu deflected response on the allegation to the office of the Minister of Defence when it sought the presidency’s reaction on the matter.

Nigerians are incensed that Buhari still ignores the findings in the report. The president’s indisposition to bringing his key appointees to account came to the fore as Shehu maintained that it was not within his purview to respond to everything. “Direct your question to the man (Minister of Defence),” he told The Guardian when asked to respond to this latest allegation against his principal’s defence chief.

For failing to detect Magashi’s corrupt past before confirming him, it means the State Security Service, an institution entrusted with the responsibility of vetting appointees to top government positions, was found wanting again on its mandate.

The silence of Buhari and his inner cabinet is already being interpreted as consistent with the administration’s policy of selective justice. While the presidency is taking a bashing for its allegedly choosy anti-corruption battle, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) described Buhari as a leader who fights corruption with two different boxing gloves.

Ibuchukwu Ezike, CLO Executive Director said Nigeria will not win the anti-corruption war with a leader like Buhari who still thinks like a clan leader.

Also, a Warri-based lawyer, Otome Adamidenyo, was emphatic that the administration can only convince Nigerians it is committed to wiping out corruption by looking inwards and bringing to justice members of the Buhari inner circle involved in fleecing the country.

On his part, Executive Director, Association of Media Practitioners Against Corruption and Instability (AMPACI), Ayodele Johnson, tasked Buhari to do more to restore public confidence in the anti-corruption battle.

“It’s not enough to yell at public gatherings that the government is fighting corruption. Let Buhari arrest and prosecute his appointees indicted for stealing public funds,” Johnson said.

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