Former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav has said that the fight against corruption by the President Buhari- led government has been grossly ineffective. He attributed the development to the fact that the President seems to be a Lone Ranger in the corruption fight as he is not getting the cooperation of the National Assembly.
Two years into President Buhari -led government, how would you access him? Do you think with what he has done so far, if he decides to re contest in 2019, he will win again?
Buhari came with good intention and he is doing his best but what perhaps could portray him as a failure is the fact that he has not been receiving cooperation from the National Assembly. That is the problem. Also, people accuse him of having a kitchen cabinet that has taken over governance in Aso Rock. Also, the issue of his ill health is another thing. All these can affect him but the Buhari I know is a straight forward person. He is fighting corruption but nobody is yet convicted and people are suffering.
As an ardent believer in the Buhari vision, what would you say is your greatest pain about the Buhari government?
Things are not happening the way they should. People seem to have taken over this government. People who should assist Buhari to achieve what he should achieve are no longer there. During the military administration, the constitution was suspended and he had a very strong man, Idiagbon who was assisting him and things went on well. People were afraid that they would be incarcerated if they were not found to be doing the right thing. Therefore, everybody was careful. And we had this WAI Brigade which was established to tame and discipline people. But in this case, Buhari has problem because he passes through the National Assembly before anything can be done and these people are frustrating him. So, as far as I am concerned, I think he has not achieved much. But it is entirely not his problem because the National Assembly is also trying to frustrate him. There are many honest people everywhere in this country that can work with Buhari and bring about this change that we all desire. The level of stealing still going on is very alarming.
So, are you saying that the fight against corruption under President Buhari is defective?
Yes, it is ineffective. In fact, it has not started yet because you talk about giving bribe yet nobody has been arrested red-handed for taking bribe. During our time we had what they called atacin powder. Once somebody asks you for bribe, you lace the currency with atacin powder, give it to him and immediately he takes it, they arrest him and examine him under ultra-violet light. Then, you would find traces of atacin powder on his hands. And that would provide substantial evidence to get the man convicted. But now, we talk about bribe, yet nobody is saying anything about what is happening to the givers of these bribes. And there is bribery everywhere. We have people who use their relations to get government contracts. We also have directors of Organizations who after either retiring or resigning to join politics, plant their children in those Organizations as directors. This also is corruption. So, I think we have not started fighting corruption in this country.
What is your take on the new trend -abandoned monies in the country lately?
Yes, this new development is very unfortunate. Unfortunate because some of these recovered monies are always in large sums yet, we don’t have people to come and claim them. This shows that these monies were gotten through criminality. For instance, the last they got in Lagos, initially, they said it belonged to Muazu, then Amechi, then the NIA claimed ownership. But I’m wondering if such money belonged to government security agency as the NIA is now claiming, my question is that their office? So, the whole thing is very complicated. It boils down to the thinking that maybe somebody who is highly placed in government owns that money and they are just trying to shield him. Because my experience in the police service is that where there is a case of murder and the police finds it difficult to investigate that murder case, most often, government or highly placed person in government is involved. Perhaps, this money belongs to somebody who is highly placed in government. Now some people are saying this money is made up of new currencies and has serial number. If this money is from Central Bank, it is easy to know because you cannot just bring money and throw it into the air without having a record who cashed it. If this money is cashed from the Central Bank, there must be record of who cashed it. If this money is counterfeit and from somebody who has a molting machine like that of the Central Bank, let us find out who that person is. So, it is very dicey and at this stage, nobody wants to speak the truth. And without the truth, we cannot help this country. The administration of the APC which has hoisted the President as a man of honour and integrity should come out and tell us the truth. Now everybody is denying. Will this money just come from nowhere and appear in somebody’s house? This money must have come from a source. Where is the source? And who brought the money?
Again, whoever was the whistle blower should have given the EFCC the information about who owns the house and the money. So, if they claim that they don’t know the owner of the house and the money, it is improper. That is why I say again that the kite they are trying to fly to Nigerians is not selling. Although, in law, you are bound to shield your informant but in this case, we want to know the informant even if it means exposing him or her to danger only that the security agency would have a greater job of ensuring his or her security. This whistle blowing has now become a profession. The other day they found some money at the Kaduna Airport. That money has not been traced to anybody. How did the money find its way there?
In the last one year, monies running into billions of Naira have been recovered in this country yet we are still in recession. Why can’t these monies be plunged back into the economy to reduce the hardship occasioned by the recession?
When we make laws in this country, we do not make them to better the lot of the masses. These monies were actually recovered but they have not remitted them into the government treasury and they have not given the government the authority to spend it. In every legal proceeding, if you recover exhibit, you have no powers to use the exhibit until the person from whom such exhibit is obtained is taken to court and convicted before the court will give an order that the exhibit be returned to government or whoever. But in this case, these people have not been convicted and so, it is dangerous to say let us use this money. If you use it and the man goes to court and wins his case, then it means the government would have to refund the money back to the owner. Presently, it seems we are prosecuting our cases on the pages of the newspapers and we are not going beyond that. We are not earning convictions and so, it is dangerous to convert these exhibits to government property. Even these courts that are forfeiting some recovered goods to government, I think it’s improper but the court would usually say it is a temporary forfeiture and not permanent.
So, what do you think is the way out of this quagmire?
The only thing the government can do is to try and block all the loopholes of corruption in this country.
How can that be done?
There are many ways to do that. You would agree with me that there is corruption everywhere in this country. For instance, if you are given a contract, you must give 10 percent upfront. The man who processes your voucher, the man who processes your papers and the man who is going to sign and so on, you must have to give them money. And when you give them money, you must give them in cash. During our time, when people demand bribe, we mark money and then give, it helped us to be able to arrest corrupt people and take them to court. But for many years now, security agencies have never taken anybody to court with marked money. So, people are giving and taking bribe with reckless abandon and these people are deceiving us that they are fighting corruption while corruption is growing bigger and becoming a monster in this country.
That brings us to the issue of Magu and the National Assembly? What do you think is the reason the Senate is refusing to confirm him?
This is very laughable. First of all, they accused Magu of being a corrupt person meanwhile, they themselves are either facing corruption charges in court or they are being investigated for corruption. Perhaps they are afraid that this man is ruthless and if he is appointed, he would ensure they are prosecuted. If they are saying the man is corrupt, is that why they would not confirm him when they too are facing corruption charges in court? Why are they judges over Magu? It’s really very unfortunate but if government finds Magu suitable for the job, why not. But I think with all the noise they are making, if Magu is retained at the EFCC, he will do a great job because he will know that all eyes would be on him and he must perform well.
Do you think the fight against insurgency has truly been won like the military is making us believe?
No, the fight against insurgency is not yet over because some people have been forced to join these groups because of the hardship we are experiencing in this country. There are many Nigerians who are daily struggling to earn a living with no reasonable result. There is one man who has been coming to my house for some time now. He said he was a night guard to somebody two years ago and his employer was owing him N100, 000 and refused to pay. Each time he comes here, we would call that his employer and he would lie to us that he would pay the money into somebody’s account and he never did till now. I give him transport money each time he comes to my house. That kind of person, if Boko Haram comes and asks him to join them don’t you think he would oblige? So, some Nigerians are not helping government. People are telling lies and stealing and that is why insecurity is going on. And you have cases of insurgency where justice system has failed. Justice system has failed in this country because if you go to the prison, you find ordinary petty thieves in there while people who have stolen millions and billions are walking the streets free. That is why we are having this issue of insurgency and militancy everywhere. Boko Haram insurgents are not chained in a particular place, they can go anywhere and because people are suffering with no means of livelihood, they can easily recruit such people into their fold. So, unless government makes a deliberate effort to reduce the hardship being faced presently by Nigerians, our national security will continue to be under threat.


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