Independence: Celebration of Change for Nigerians – MURIC


*Prof. Ishaq Akintola, Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC).

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*Recommends punishments for corrupt public servants

*Lists gains of Change offered by current administration

*Contends Nigeria now has good leader, asks Nigerians to play own roles

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By Kemi Kasumu

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has described the 56th independence anniversary in the country as celebration of change offered by the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The faith-based rights group observed that the Federal Government had declared Monday October 3 as public holiday to mark Nigeria’s 56th independence anniversary which occurred on Saturday October 1, 2016 and congratulated Nigerian people at home and abroad for witnessing “this great day,” noting that Nigerians had cause to rejoice because, according to it, “We have all seen palpable signs of change despite the current economic recession.”

In a press release signed by Director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Prof. Ishaq Akintola, copy of which was sent to The DEFENDER, the non-government organization said: “Critics and public analysts have always criticised past regimes for the systemic corruption. They wondered why no high ranking official was ever held accountable. They also made us to believe that corrupt practices will come to an end once government takes the bold step to confront and punish offenders. This has been the story since our independence in 1960.

“MURIC believes that Nigerians can now heave sighs of relief as accountability takes the central stage in the Buhari administration which took off on May 29, 2015. More than eleven highly placed politicians and army generals have been arrested and remanded in prison for corrupt practices.”

The release went further listing some of the achievements of the Buhari-led administration in the fight against corruption in the area of people that it said had been held to account.

MURIC said: “The unprecedented list includes a former Acting governor of Adamawa State, Umaru Fintiri, former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), former spokesman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, Air Marshal Olusola Amosu (rtd), an ex-Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, ex-Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secundus, Chairman of African Independent Television (AIT), Raymond Dokpesi, former military governor of Kaduna State and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Lawal Isa Jafaru and Air Vice Marshal Olusola Oguntoyinbo.

“Very recently, a serving governor and a former First Lady had their bank accounts frozen over fraudulent transactions. The Aso Rock official responsible for plagiarising Obama’s speech was sacked few days ago. Ministers have been barred from flying first class at government’s expense. The same Buhari administration has denied ministers luxurious accommodation in Abuja. Leakages are being blocked. The Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the bank BVN number have exposed thousands of ghost workers and forced many looters to abandon their money in commercial banks for fear of being traced and punished.”

More importantly, MURIC said, looted money was being recovered even as billions in Naira and hard currencies had been reportedly returned to government.

The faith-based organisation regretted that the Federal Government could not make much progress due to lack of support by the National Assembly.

It said: “About one billion naira has reportedly been returned. It is our contention that returned stolen money would have been more had the National Assembly (NASS) actively supported the anti-graft measures put in place by the Buhari administration. But instead of being a partner in progress,” it accused NASS for constituting self as “a clog in the wheel while its leadership has been embroiled in corruption scandals and the attendant trials.”

Benefits of Change mantra

“It is equally noteworthy that Nigeria has witnessed change in leadership orientation. Observers and critics have for long maintained that the problem with Nigeria is leadership and that the country will get it right once the leader gets it right. Unlike in the past, Nigeria today has a leader who is above board, someone who is tested and trusted.

“Another feature of the change mantra has manifested in the recognition and respect which the international community has for the current Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari. He has won accolades from notable world leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury and President Barrack Obama of the United States. This is change at the international arena.”

MURIC called on Nigerians to allow the change aura to spread encouraging Nigerians at all levels to embrace the change phenomenon. It particularly told the people’s representatives at the National Assembly to rise from their deep slumber and give full support to the war against corruption, adding that both chambers of NASS must put the necessary machinery in motion to ensure speedy trial of corrupt persons.

MURIC recommends punishments for corrupt people

With some modifications, MURIC threw its weight behind recommendations by concerned individuals and groups for the punishment of corrupt politicians and public officials in the country.

The released stated: “We support recommendations made by concerned individuals and groups for the punishment of corrupt politicians and public officials with some modifications as reflected below: They must fully forfeit stolen funds, those imprisoned can only be treated inside prison walls if they fall sick, they must lose national honors and all chieftaincy titles, they must lose national honors and all chieftaincy titles, complicit lawyers should attract equal prison sentence and disbarment and  Judges who aid and abet them should be sentenced to life imprisonment without any option of fine,” MURIC said, calling on people it described as “doubting Thomases” to remove the blindfold of prejudice from their eyes in order to behold the wonderful change sweeping the Nigerian landscape.

The Muslim rights group reminded Nigerians of the need to take the cue from the current transparent leadership even as it blamed the Nigeria’s woes on bad leadership that had characterised Nigerian governance many years in the past, regretting that Nigeria had never been truly independent as it “wobbled and fumbled in the shackle of corruption.”

It advised citizens to take advantage of Buhari’s good leadership to change themselves. Nigerians, it said, must turn a new leaf to liberate themselves from socio-economic predators and corrupt politicians who had subjected them to acute penury by looting their common wealth.

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