A frontline Human Rights advocacy group, Advocates of Social Justice for All (ASJA), has commended the Code of Conduct Bureau (CBB) for its diligence and forthrightness in the manner it handled the Dubai property saga concerning the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, ASJA national president, Torkuma Venatius, said the timely intervention of the CCB put a quick end to any distraction that a prolonged tussle may have caused the COAS in his resolve to quickly finish the Boko Haram war.
He said his group just like other Nigerians had called for the COAS to step down, but said there were a lot of deliberate misinformation at the onset about the properties.
He said, “a lot has been unearthed since the allegation against him first surfaced. In the course of investigation, we found out that there was deliberate mischief aimed at misleading the public through misinformation and distortion of facts pushed into the public space.
“We at Advocates of Social Justice for All (ASJA), on the strength of what we knew, had resolved to occupy major Nigerian cities in protest to demand that General Buratai quits as COAS to pave way for investigations into the allegations against him. Our reasoning was that the anti-corruption fight would receive a boost by so doing.
“In line with our internal practice of doing due diligence before embarking on public actions, we decided to review the information at our disposal. What we found was that there were yawning gaps and aspects that required clarifications. In the course of getting additional information to get a clearer picture we found that like many Nigerians we were on the verge of falling for coordinated misinformation that were presented as facts to the public.”
He said Nigerians that have taken the pains to ask questions and make enquiries are also finding out that things are not the way the dominant voices in this debate have painted them.
He said, “For instance, a Freedom of Information request by an Abuja-based lawyer, Ugochukwu Osuagwu, to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CBB) that was granted has basically closed the chapter on what has now been proven to be malicious claims against the COAS. The CBB confirmed that the General did actually declared the property in his Assets Declaration Form. Therefore, he has not erred and the fact that he declared the assets is partly an indication that he has no intention of hiding its ownership since only a public official that has nothing to hide would be bold to do so.”
According to Venatius this confirmation by the CBB came after the Presidency ordered another round of probe into military procurement. The list of those to be probed does not include General Buratai.
He commended the COAS for his courage and honesty declaring his assets without any pressure, stressing that it showed he had nothing to hide.
He said, “instead, we are now challenging public office holders to make truthful declaration of their assets like General Buratai did. For this purpose, we are asking that there should be a sort of six weeks amnesty for wrong assets declaration so that all eligible persons can collect fresh asset forms and declare their true worth like the General did.”