Femi Adesina, spokesman to President Muhammadu Buhari, says the president remains committed to a just and transparent fight against corruption.
Adesina said this when he made an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
There have been reactions to Buhari’s comment when he returned from his 10-day vacation to the UK.
The president had vowed that to jail more “looters”.
“We are going to jail more of the thieves, you know – that brought the economic problem to the country. I think this is really expected of me and I will do it,” he had said.
Adesina said the presidency is not worried about the harsh criticisms that arose as a result of Buhari’s government.
“If you are a potential thief, you have every cause to worry about Buhari’s recent statement , in reaction to the criticism that followed the president’s comments,” Adesina said.
“Some people will criticise anything. They will find faults about anything. If they don’t have something to fault, they will begin to fault themselves. Therefore, it doesn’t worry us when we hear people like that because even if they mistakenly get to heaven, they will find fault with God.
“It is typical of some human beings and we have plenty of them in the country. But we are also grateful that we have many more, millions and millions who know what is going on and who appreciate the president.
“Talking of jailing thieves, its only thieves and potential thieves that need worry about that statement.
“If you are a thief, yes you have every cause to worry. If you are a potential thief, you have every cause to worry – because there was a time stealing was not corruption, but stealing is corruption today and if you are caught in corruption, you’ll answer. Therefore, you have every cause to worry.”
He, however, evaded a question regarding the update on the probe of Babachir Lawal, former secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) and Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman, Pension Reform Task Team.
On October 30, Babachir Lawal was sacked from office after he was accused of sharp practices in the welfare of internally displaced persons in the north-east.
A senate ad-hoc committee on ‘mounting humanitarian crisis in the north-east’ had indicted Lawal of fraud in a contract awarded for the clearing of “invasive plant species” in Yobe state. The Presidential Initiative on Northeast (PINE), which was under Lawal, was at the time unable to account for N2.5 billion allocated to it for the alleviation of the IDPs’ suffering.
On his part, Maina, who is accused of fraud, was controversially reinstated into the civil service in 2017 in a plot allegedly orchestrated by top officials of the Buhari administration.
Buhari has since received the reports of the probe into the two incidents but has kept silent on them.
Adesina was asked to give the update on the two individuals which he failed to do.
Seun Okinbaloye, the programme anchor, had asked him: “There are allegations against the former SGF, Babachir Lawal, leading to his removal in office; the issue of Maina and others who are close to power … do you have any update on them?”
Adesina responded: “We have answered these questions a thousand and one times and we will keep answering it. The president does not charge, he does not prosecute, he does not direct the security agencies. What happens is, if anybody is indicted, the security agencies will move in naturally.
“It is not for the president to direct them. He doesn’t direct whether to prosecute or not to prosecute. He leaves them to do their jobs.”
He also dismissed allegations that the president is cordoning corrupt practices among his allies, including Kemi Adeosun, minister of information, who was accused of forging her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate.
“You can only go after those who have abused trust; who have had the opportunity to be exposed to the treasury and they pilfered,” Adesina said.
“If they are perceived to be corrupt, then something must be proven. You don’t drag to court on the basis of suspicion or even on the basis of allegation.”