Professor Itse Sagay, the chairman of presidential committee against corruption, has explained when ex-president Goodluck Jonathan could be probed. He has blamed ex-minister of national planning, Dr. Abubakar Suleiman, concerning the blameworthiness of Jonathan in the ongoing anti-corruption cases.
Suleiman, who is the spokesman for the Peoples Democratic Party ministers’ forum, had said that former president could not be held liable because no stolen funds had been traced to the former president’s personal bank accounts. He had said: “All these issues of corruption under Jonathan happened between March and April last year.
It was purely an election issue. Nobody has traced any money to Jonathan’s account up till now, but money was traced to Abacha’s accounts.” Meanwhile, Sagay claimed that while he could not say if there was a case against former president or not Jonathan could be held liable if it could be established that he made unlawful approvals for funds to be paid into other people’s accounts.
Sagay said: “Only the EFCC can say if Jonathan is culpable. Guilt in criminal law requires proof and there must be evidence. So, what I would say is that if a case can be established against Jonathan as regards public funds, then he has a case to answer.
“I don’t know if that has been done. I have not seen anybody who says he was given the money by Jonathan himself although one can say that instructions to any institution that public funds should be released to other people for purposes, which those funds were not designated, is in itself a criminal affair. “So, it is not only when money is found on you that you have a case to answer.
If you are a person in authority, and you issue directives to people under you, who are keeping public funds like the Governor of the Central Bank, and an illegal order is given to him for the release of funds, that, in itself, will raise a case for Jonathan to answer if in fact he issued such an order.”
Another prominent lawyer Yusuf Ali, said it was too early to discharge anybody as probes into corruption that took place under the past government were still ongoing.
“The whole process is ongoing. Investigations are still ongoing. Until somebody is convicted, nothing bad can be said about such person. I believe when we get to the bridge, we shall cross it,” he stated. “There is no point for anybody to be excited or be happy for now until the whole story is in the open. Investigations are ongoing.”
At the same time, Jiti Ogunye, a lawyer from Lagos, defined Suleiman’s statement as provocative and highly irresponsible. According to him, the fact that a number of politicians, who served under the Jonathan government, were facing criminal trial was enough to probe the ex-president with conspiracy.
“That statement by him is provocative and highly irresponsible.
And the reason I say that is that former president Goodluck Jonathan was the head of the executive arm of government at the time he presided over the affairs of the country. READ ALSO: EFCC gets presidency’s nod to probe ex-president Jonathan “All the officials that are being held to account and during whose trials, as we speak, Nigerians are now learning about the mind-boggling stealing or looting of public treasury, were answerable to him; they were running his errands and therefore Nigerians expect that being the person on whose table the buck stopped as of the time he was the President, that he would be able to superintend them and ensure that those his subordinates didn’t loot the nation’s treasury.
“Can’t the former president be charged with conspiracy? He can, on the basis of those revelations because for what purpose was the money given to those people? On the strength of that alone, a charge of conspiracy can be sustained against the former president.
“For anybody to be annoying Nigerians with such a statement that nothing has been traced to the former president, one wonders what he was thinking.
This is not theatrics, we are talking about things that have wrecked this country and then people are engaging in ludicrous polemics.” Since Buhari’s anti-corruption war commenced, a lot of prominent names have been indicted and still being probed, particularly the case of $2.1 billion arms purchase scandal allegedly perpetrated by former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki.
A lot of Nigerians have also called for the probe of Jonathan under whose nose the money was stoled and the nation’s treasury looted blind. The anti-graft commission has reportedly received a nod from presidency to probe Jonathan as Buhari’s media aide said that there was no secret pact between the incumbent and former leaders to exclude the ex-president from the list of corrupt people to be investigated by this government. While some Nigerians want a prospective probe to be limited to former president’s administration, some countered that it should be extended to all past governments.
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