Nigerians can’t continue to celebrate criminals, who enrich themselves from our commonwealth – Obasanjo

Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has said that Nigerians cannot continue to celebrate criminals, who enrich themselves from the commonwealth of the people.

Obasanjo speaking at a public lecture marking the 14th anniversary of the Dorcas Oke Hope Alive Initiative at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo state on the theme, “Corruption and the Challenges of the African Child said: “It is very demoralising to law enforcement officers when they painstakingly investigate a case and the culprit finds his way around the judiciary to escape. We cannot continue to celebrate criminals, who enrich themselves from our commonwealth, and think that corruption will disappear.”

Further he said: “One of the reasons that members of the extremist group – Boko Haram, gave for their insurrection is that they became disillusioned when they saw how corrupt that Western-educated leaders were.

“According to them, if those who occupied government offices by their Western education would corruptly enrich themselves and deprive others of the basic things of life, then that education is ‘haram’ which means forbidden.

“I am told that when Mohammed Yusuf, the original leader of Boko Haram and his early followers first started, they all gathered and tore their certificates because they said a certificate, which could not fetch them a source of livelihood is useless to them. Similarly, they saw Western education as corrupting the individuals.

“We may not agree with their position, but the disappointment and disillusionment of citizens over the inadequacy or poor performance of their leaders is real. Adding rising corruption to other inadequacies in leadership and we will see the instability and insecurity which we have witnessed in the North East in recent years.”

Obasanjo added, “There is, therefore, a direct correlation between corruption and youth; youth healthy development, growth and progress. The manifestation of corruption in various forms, such as instability, unemployment and our mentality will continue to plague our nation unless urgent steps are taken to fight corruption.

“No society in the world can claim to have completely eradicated corruption, but many countries have successfully reduced corruption to its barest minimum. Many countries have not made corruption a way of life. There are some examples of countries from Asia and Africa, we can emulate if we are serious about the fight against corruption as we should be.”

Speaking on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC he said: “But once we left office, they (EFCC and ICPC) became very politicised and weakened to the point that they were unable to discharge their duties. In fact, one of the governors, who had been labelled and gone to jail for corruption, was to look for replacement for Nuhu Ribadu (the pioneering chairman of EFCC), and you know the type of replacement he would get.

“There is need to support and strengthen these institutions, especially in the area of prosecution. The law enforcement agencies or the government alone cannot fight corruption. They must be supported by a judiciary that is upright and transparent.

“It is very demoralising to law enforcement officers when they painstakingly investigate a case and the culprit finds his way around the judiciary to escape. We cannot continue to celebrate criminals, who enrich themselves from our commonwealth, and think that corruption will disappear.”

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