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BUHARI’S 100 DAYS IN OFFICE; UNNECESSARY CONTENTION- CACOL

 

The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL has said that the issue of whether or not Buhari’s 100 days in office should be treated as a tradition for performance score-card, in its view, shouldn’t be a subject of contention at all.

 

This came on the heels of a response to questions about a report on documents titled “One Hundred Things Buhari will do in 100 Days” and “My Covenant with Nigerians” which was contained in statement made available by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, that President Muhammadu Buhari did not promise Nigerians that he would achieve specific things within his first 100 days in office.

 

The Executive Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, speaking on behalf of the coalition stressed that “having read and listened to the spate of contentious positions taken by those we want to describe as pro and anti Buhari’s voices, we would want to ask President Buhari to remember the prevailing political atmosphere under which he was voted in by Nigerians, as the man competent and trusted to confront the country’s enormous, yet multi-faceted problems. Electorates believed that he has the required courage and guts to perform and achieve the desired result, hence he should avoid, in every way possible, being eroded into adopting or formulating policies that could be seeing to be anti-people.”

 

However, Nigerians voted for change and that simply means that they were dissatisfied with the ways the country was being run then and had yearned for a shift from the status quo. “That President Buhari has been in the saddle for 100 days is a fact; that certain promises were made either directly by him or by his party, the APC, during his electioneering campaign, is also a fact. Justifiably so, Nigerians reserve the moral right to demand that he delivers on those promises.

 

Speaking further, Adeniran said “It therefore behoves who promised to either begin to deliver on the promises right-away or at least, begin to say something to these same people, about his mode of operation or measures through which he intends to address pressing issues. He could even open up with his blue-print on action plans on certain aspects of his programme. And if he believes that he has, within this relatively little time, put in place certain things, whether conclusively or in process, we do not see anything wrong in coming out to brandish his score-card for all to see”.

 

The group further said, “Proactive effort is one thing, result is another; but whichever way it comes, would certainly be better than a disturbing silence that could only open the door for unnecessary bickering, presumptions and insinuations among contending interest groups.

Granted that Buhari never hinged his pre-election promises on a specified time-frame, as the APC is trying to remind the people, the fact still remains that promises such as:

  1. Public declaration of assets;
  2. A free meal per day for school pupils;
  • N5, 000 monthly allowance for the unemployed; and so on, were made.

 

“The party, APC was alive and active when those speaking for the party were making pronouncement on the now contentious issue of 100 days during electioneering campaigns, and neither was any disclaimer issued nor any counter-statement made by the party then, so, why now? APC cannot claim ignorance of the age-long tradition of 100-days-in-office assessment of performance of top political office holders; it’s been with us for quite a while now.

 

The Coalition has been consistent in its position on some of these promises that President Buhari or the APC does not necessarily need to make it a political issue before acting on them. For instance; issues like that of public declaration of assets, could have just been done by Buhari and his vice without much ado as it would only translate into a clear evidence of seriousness and sincerity on their part, in their quest to fighting and eradicating corruption from our land.

 

Whilst the group appreciates the recent public declaration of assets by the President and his vice, it should be acknowledged as a right step in the right direction as this will go a long way in strengthening the confidence that the Nigerian public has in them and further underscore the exemplary posture of the duo. This singular gesture which we wish would constitute a benchmark for successive regimes, we want to believe, would implicitly serve as a window-opener to series of ‘change’ that are to trail the life of this administration. However, we want to further call on President Buhari and his party not to relent at ensuring that every other aspect of their promises is fulfilled without much ado.

 

The Coalition further advised that, “rather than making unnecessary issue out of the credibility of the source that spoke on behalf of the party, APC or Buhari should just go ahead to tell Nigerians what he’s been able to do so far. Well, for whatever it is worth, “we want to believe that for the past 100 days in office, President Buhari couldn’t have been idle, he certainly must have been doing some things; let him tell his people now”, Debo Adeniran inferred.

 

Temtiope Macjob

Acting Media Officer, CACOL

temitope@thehumanitycenter.org

cacolc@yahoo.com

08029215000

4th September, 2015

 

For more press releases and statements, please visit our website at www.cwatch.thehumanitycentre.org

Be The Change You Preach Anti-Corruption Group Tells Buhari, Osinbanjo

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By admin   /   Tuesday, 01 Sep 2015
Buhari-osThe Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL has called on the President and Vice-president to continually lead by example if they truly desire to succeed in the anti-corruption war they espouse.

The Anti-corruption Coalition said this in its assessment of 90days of President Buhari in office especially in the areas of war against corruption and insurgency.

The Executive Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, speaking un-behalf of the coalition asserted, “Looking at the activities of the Present President in the last 90 days we can say that the present president, Muhammadu Buhari has started well, when compared with those who had come before him especially from 1999, who didn’t do as much as it’s happening now.

Though the President has not really done anything on his own; it is his body language and the pronouncements he made with assurances that he was going to fight corrupt public officials hands down that has been working for him.

However, it is expected that the present regime would have achieved more within the past 90days, we still believe a lot can still happen within the next ten days that will make his first 100days in office, during which his covenant could be reviewed. We believed that he is going to make good, parts of the covenants he voluntarily entered with Nigerian people during his electioneering and shortly after before he was sworn-in”.

Talking about presidential assets declaration, the group said “we also believe that he is going to make declaration of his assets public because it is one of the non-prosecutorial ways of declaring preventive war against corruption and it is a way an anti-corruption leader should set the necessary example”.

“His promise was that he is going to make his assets declaration public and cause everybody that wanted to work with him to do the same. Up till now we are not sure that his assets declaration form is yet a public affair”.

According to the statement, the Coalition affirmed that, “we also know that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) doesn’t have the power to make asset declaration details public; it only the declarant that has the power to make it public; except when one requires and applies for it under the law that established the Code of Conduct Bureau. We therefore suggest that the law should be amended to make it possible for the Bureau to make assets declaration of public servants public. So if Buhari has not done that, he has done a little wrong thing”.

Speaking further, Adeniran said “that a number of public exposed persons who are now being prosecuted is not yet directly the President’s making; it is the suspended cases from the previous regime that are being brought to the fore-front and because there is a new criminal procedure for prosecution that makes it expedient for every lawyer to be weary of what applications he makes that will not be deemed to be frivolous or bid to waste the time of the court, that have made the court to expedite actions in adjudicating into matters that had to do with corruption”.

Also, the group further said, “that Buhari has said and make pronouncements that all former ministers and everybody that worked with the past regime will be subject of a holistic probe, is also a step in the right direction that has sent all the agencies that has to do with it on their toes to start doing preliminary activities that will lead to the eventual probe of those who participated in past regimes. A number of revelations coming to the fore are also part and parcel of the body language and pronouncements of the present President.

The Coalition also asserted that anti-corruption agencies believe that if the trend continues, it will go a long way in ensuring that corruption criminals don’t go scot free “saying, the body language of the present President alone have made most of those who perpetrate corruption to take heed; they don’t want to perpetrate corruption with impunity and “that is why a lot of people can now say public power supply is now relatively stable more stable, generators are now silent and not being over-used as before, refineries have started running one way or the other which means that there will be increase in supply of refined product for domestic use; a lot of work is also going on in other areas like exploration of solid minerals and activities of Federal Inland Revenue services; all the revenue agencies and corporations are now remitting what they make in quantum that is more than what it used to be.

“Basically, the personality of the president and the comportment of the vice president have shown that this regime is out for anti-corruption business and nobody is feeling as free as before to commit corruption crime.

The Coalition affirmed that they are still asking the government and the leadership of the government not to allow corrupt elements within their own political class to overwhelm them with corruptive tendencies because they would want to convince them that certain areas should be left un-touched and that should not be allowed. “The President, Vice-President and other members of their cabinet should demonstrate the change they preach”. Adeniran advised on behalf of CACOL.

“Government should ensure that members of the National Assembly are not allowed to get away with any criminal activities; whether they committed it before they get to the office or the commit it when they are in office.

On the possible frustration of government effort by the National Assembly, the group said, “Everybody that has corruption charges against them should be made to face the law earlier than other persons that are not in government.

Those who have been charged should go and answer to the charges of corruption against them, for those that are being investigated, due diligent and speedy investigation should be carried out before they are allowed to continue to make law for us otherwise, they will use powers within their ambit to frustrate the effort to get corrupt element in the society prosecuted. It is therefore imperative on government to use its power to ensure that the bad eggs within who had found their way into the National Assembly are wiped out”.

The group further advised Buhari’s government that “Everybody that want to work with the government should go to court to swear to affidavit for not have been an agent of corrupt element or for not have been accused of corruption crimes before; the same thing should apply to corporate organizations that want to take contracts from government, they should swear to affidavit that they have not encouraged corruption, money laundering, and allied crimes like financing of terrorism; they should give evidence that they haven’t engaged in shady deals earlier and anyone of them that is found wanting should be black-listed. There are several other integrity-conscious corporate bodies and firms to be engaged in execution of such programs and projects; this is the only way we can extrude corruption in our climes”. The statement concluded.

Source: Universal Reporters.

BUHARI, OSINBANJO SHOULD BE THE CHANGE THEY PREACH- CACOL

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The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL has called on the President and Vice-president to continually lead by example if they truly desire to succeed in the anti-corruption war they espouse.

 

The Anti-corruption Coalition said this in its assessment of 90days of President Buhari in office especially in the areas of war against corruption and insurgency.

 

The Executive Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, speaking un-behalf of the coalition asserted, “Looking at the activities of the Present President in the last 90 days we can say that the present president, Muhammadu Buhari has started well, when compared with those who had come before him especially from 1999, who didn’t do as much as it’s happening now.

 

Though the President has not really done anything on his own; it is his body language and the pronouncements he made with assurances that he was going to fight corrupt public officials hands down that has been working for him.

 

However, it is expected that the present regime would have achieved more within the past 90days, we still believe a lot can still happen within the next ten days that will make his first 100days in office, during which his covenant could be reviewed. We believed that he is going to make good, parts of the covenants he voluntarily entered with Nigerian people during his electioneering and shortly after before he was sworn-in”.

 

Talking about presidential assets declaration, the group said “we also believe that he is going to make declaration of his assets public because it is one of the non-prosecutorial ways of declaring preventive war against corruption and it is a way an anti-corruption leader should set the necessary example”.

 

“His promise was that he is going to make his assets declaration public and cause everybody that wanted to work with him to do the same. Up till now we are not sure that his assets declaration form is yet a public affair”.

 

According to the statement, the Coalition affirmed that, “we also know that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) doesn’t have the power to make asset declaration details public; it only the declarant that has the power to make it public; except when one requires and applies for it under the law that established the Code of Conduct Bureau. We therefore suggest that the law should be amended to make it possible for the Bureau to make assets declaration of public servants public. So if Buhari has not done that, he has done a little wrong thing”.

 

Speaking further, Adeniran said “that a number of public exposed persons who are now being prosecuted is not yet directly the President’s making; it is the suspended cases from the previous regime that are being brought to the fore-front and because there is a new criminal procedure for prosecution that makes it expedient for every lawyer to be weary of what applications he makes that will not be deemed to be frivolous or bid to waste the time of the court, that have made the court to expedite actions in adjudicating into matters that had to do with corruption”.

 

Also, the group further said, “that Buhari has said and make pronouncements that all former ministers and everybody that worked with the past regime will be subject of a holistic probe, is also a step in the right direction that has sent all the agencies that has to do with it on their toes to start doing preliminary activities that will lead to the eventual probe of those who participated in past regimes. A number of revelations coming to the fore are also part and parcel of the body language and pronouncements of the present President.

 

The Coalition also asserted that anti-corruption agencies believe that if the trend continues, it will go a long way in ensuring that corruption criminals don’t go scot free “saying, the body language of the present President alone have made most of those who perpetrate corruption to take heed; they don’t want to perpetrate corruption with impunity and “that is why a lot of people can now say public power supply is now relatively stable more stable, generators are now silent and not being over-used as before, refineries have started running one way or the other which means that there will be increase in supply of refined product for domestic use; a lot of work is also going on in other areas like exploration of solid minerals and activities of Federal Inland Revenue services; all the revenue agencies and corporations are now remitting what they make in quantum that is more than what it used to be.

 

“Basically, the personality of the president and the comportment of the vice president have shown that this regime is out for anti-corruption business and nobody is feeling as free as before to commit corruption crime.

 

The Coalition affirmed that they are still asking the government and the leadership of the government not to allow corrupt elements within their own political class to overwhelm them with corruptive tendencies because they would want to convince them that certain areas should be left un-touched and that should not be allowed. “The President, Vice-President and other members of their cabinet should demonstrate the change they preach”. Adeniran advised on behalf of CACOL.

 

“Government should ensure that members of the National Assembly are not allowed to get away with any criminal activities; whether they committed it before they get to the office or the commit it when they are in office.

 

On the possible frustration of government effort by the National Assembly, the group said, “Everybody that has corruption charges against them should be made to face the law earlier than other persons that are not in government.

 

Those who have been charged should go and answer to the charges of corruption against them, for those that are being investigated, due diligent and speedy investigation should be carried out before they are allowed to continue to make law for us otherwise, they will use powers within their ambit to frustrate the effort to get corrupt element in the society prosecuted. It is therefore imperative on government to use its power to ensure that the bad eggs within who had found their way into the National Assembly are wiped out”.

 

The group further advised Buhari’s government that “Everybody that want to work with the government should go to court to swear to affidavit for not have been an agent of corrupt element or for not have been accused of corruption crimes before; the same thing should apply to corporate organizations that want to take contracts from government, they should swear to affidavit that they have not encouraged corruption, money laundering, and allied crimes like financing of terrorism; they should give evidence that they haven’t engaged in shady deals earlier and anyone of them that is found wanting should be black-listed. There are several other integrity-conscious corporate bodies and firms to be engaged in execution of such programs and projects; this is the only way we can extrude corruption in our climes”. The statement concluded.

 

Temitope Macjob

Acting Media officer, CACOL

temitope@thehumanitycentre.org

cacolc@yahoo.com

08029215000

1st September, 2015

 

For more press releases and statements, please visit our website at www.cwatch.thehumanitycentre.org

Lawyers, major huddle before Buhari’s anti-graft war

   

Buhari and Nigeria Bar Association President, A. Alegeh

Lawyers, by their profession, are said to be major instruments needed to enhance smooth administration of justice, but as President Muhammadu Buhari appeals to them for support, MUDIAGA AFFE and GBENRO ADEOYE examines how they pose a threat to the anti-corruption war

Corruption in Nigeria has often been described as being widespread as no sector of the country’s economy can be said to be free of the scourge. It is a blot on Nigeria’s image and said to have hampered development of the country.

As a result, President Muhammadu Buhari, who made the fight against the menace one of the cardinal programmes of his administration, has initiated various measures to tackle the graft, going by a recent report that the President was planning to set up special courts in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory to aid the anti-corruption war.

As regards anti-graft agencies, they are not in short supply in the country. Agencies like the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and the Code of Conduct Bureau have been charged with the responsibility of fighting corruption. But justice in cases involving corrupt practices has largely evaded people in the high echelons of politics and business in Nigeria. And lawyers are seen as the best allies to some of corrupt individuals, helping them to evade justice.

For instance, it is believed that lawyers deliberately stall the trials of some moneybags, including politicians, facing charges of corruption and abuse of office by using series of frivolous motions including stay of proceedings, adjournments, interim, interlocutory and perpetual injunctions.

This is because laws are complex and could sometimes be open to several interpretations, which some lawyers skillfully capitalise on to thwart or delay justice. Experts say lawyers often help their clients obtain court immunity and injunctions retraining the police and other security agencies from investigating or prosecuting them, thereby frustrating the wheel of justice.

An example is the trial of former Plateau State Governor, Joshua Dariye, for corruption charges, a case that has stalled in court since 2007.

In September 2004, British authorities in London arrested Dariye for alleged money laundering and seized about £90,000 in cash from him. Dariye allegedly skipped bail, fled to Nigeria and resumed his office as governor, which granted him immunity from prosecution.

When the governor’s term ended in 2007, the EFCC charged him with 14 counts of money laundering. But after eight years, Dariye’s trial has yet to start following different kinds of motions filed by his counsel.

First, Dariye’s lawyers filed a motion in November 2007, asking that all the charges against him be dismissed. Justice Adebukola Banjoko denied the motion, but his lawyers appealed the ruling. So, Banjoko halted the proceedings pending when Dariye’s appeal would be heard.

The appellant had contended that the Federal Capital Territory High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit since the alleged offences involved funds belonging the Plateau State Government.

He thus argued that he ought to have been tried in Jos and urged the court to quash the entire 23 counts preferred against the former governor.

Dariye’s appeal failed on every issue but by the time the ruling was handed down in June 2010, it had been three years since he first appeared in court.

In December 2010 when Banjoko announced that Dariye’s trial would commence in January 2011, his counsel stood up to announce that another appeal had been filed with the Supreme Court. The court halted the proceedings again until the appeal would be heard. But the Supreme Court in February 2015 dismissed Dariye’s interlocutory appeal which had stalled his trial since 2007.

Justice Sylvester Ngwuta who delivered the lead judgement described the scenario played out in the entire case as a “sad commentary” on Nigeria’s fight against corruption.

In a unanimous judgement by the five-man panel, the court ordered the accused to return to the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Gudu, Abuja, to face his trial.

The Supreme Court described as unmeritorious, Dariye’s appeal against the earlier decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, on his preliminary objection challenging the competence of the charges instituted against him and the jurisdiction of the FCT High Court to entertain the suit.

Justice Chima Nweze, while concurring with the judgement, also frowned on the attitude of politically exposed persons to deploy tactics to delay corruption cases instituted against them, as exemplified in Dariye’s case.

He held, “I have noticed a most worrying trend in most recent time, particularly among the politically exposed citizens of this great country, imagining that they are above the laws of the land, have perfected some awkward and baseless tactics of delaying their trial when they run into conflict with the law.

“The appellant in this appeal falls into this category. In 2007, about eight years ago, leave was granted to the respondent to prefer charges against him. He was duly arraigned before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.

“On November 13, the date set aside for the prosecution to marshal its witnesses, he implored the trial court to quash the charges against him on the grounds that the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to hear and determine the charges.

“When the application was dismissed, he proceeded to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, which held and dismissed his appeal. Instead of returning to the trial court to face his trial, he appealed against the lower court’s judgment. I agree that this appeal is unmeritorious.”

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had, on July 13, 2007, arraigned the former governor on 23 counts of money laundering and other corruption charges allegedly involving “billions of naira” belonging to the Plateau State Government.

The agency had also accused the former governor of among others, diversion of about N1.2bn of the state’s ecological funds into a private account.

When a suspected oil subsidy thief, Mr. Seun Ogunbambo, was arrested by the EFCC in 2012, it was discovered that he had earlier jumped bail after being arraigned for suspected identity fraud, bank fraud and other related offences. Ogunbambo had allegedly collected a loan facility worth over N430m from a bank between February and September 2009.

After being denied bail in the matter by a Lagos High Court, Ogunbambo had approached another court to secure the bail.

Once after failing to appear in court, his lawyer, Raphael Oluyede, had told the court that he was absent because he had been attacked by some gunmen, who had wanted to abduct him.

But some months later, in a separate case involving Ogunbambo, Oluyede said he did not know the whereabouts of his client, telling the court that the last time he saw Ogunbambo, he had sustained an injury which affected his spinal cord.

Oluyede said since then, he had been unable to reach him because of his injury and the nature of his treatment. He however asked the court to grant him leave to discontinue his representation of Ogunbambo.

At the time, the EFCC claimed it had information that Ogunbambo, who was also charged with N979.6m subsidy fraud, had jumped bail and fled the country to Canada.

EFCC counsel, Emmanuel Oluyede, had described Ogunbambo’s actions as “an abuse of court process” capable of making “criminal law look like a toothless bulldog.”

According to reports, Oginbambo has not been sighted in the country since then.

Meanwhile, according to the Human Rights Watch in a 2011 paper titled ‘Corruption on Trial? The Record of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’, lawyers’ tactics at delaying trials pose a major threat to the country’s fight against corruption.

The report also noted that cases of corruption against many former governors have been pending for years, as far back as 2007.

Buhari seems to agree with the assertion of HRW, considering his address at the 55th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Abuja recently.

There, the President urged lawyers not to sacrifice the integrity of Nigeria’s legal system for money.

At the gathering, Buhari said, “First, we need to make our courts functional and effective again. This means that we must have lawyers who take the ethics of the profession very seriously; lawyers who will not frustrate the course of justice, even though they defend their clients with all legitimate means and resources.

“Nigeria needs ethical lawyers who always keep the end of justice in mind and will never sacrifice the integrity of the legal system to cover the misdeeds of their clients, no matter how lucrative the brief may be.”

However, in his reaction, the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Debo Adeniran, urged Buhari to do more than appeal to the lawyers’ moral conscience.

Adeniran described criminal justice in Nigeria as being lax, noting that courts are not being properly supervised by the National Judicial Council.

He said, “Beyond that, Buhari should empower the NJC to observe all court proceedings and ensure that anybody who deliberately delays adjudication or wastes the time of the court should face the music.

“Sources of income of lawyers should be investigated because they are the conduits through which some of the looters and corrupt elements launder money. They write receipts for the consultancy they didn’t do at exorbitant rates. That is why you see some of them hands in gloves with corrupt elements.”

Also, Adeniran urged the government to put a cap on the amount of money a lawyer can receive as legal fee per case, saying “it should not be limitless.”

He said, “If a few of them lose their practicing licences, they will sit tight. If the lawyer knows that there is a third eye looking at proceedings, they will also want to take heed and ensure they don’t engage in any fraudulent practice to circumvent the course of justice. All these frivolous applications and the challenging of jurisdiction should stop.”

Also, a lawyer and social commentator, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, said that corrupt lawyers and judges only function in an environment permissive of corruption.

“Now that we have a President that says that he wants to fight corruption, once that tone is set, it is likely that lawyers and any other person will take a cue and will be ashamed of what they were doing before to frustrate the prosecution of criminal cases.”

He called for the reformation of Nigeria’s criminal procedure law, however, adding that the recent promulgation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act would go a long way to curb the problem.

Ogunye said the Act should be domesticated in all states of the country to encourage an effective justice system.

He said, “More than that, all the interlocutory applications that were allowed by the extant criminal procedure laws have now been abolished by the new act. Now, we have a situation where lawyers object everything.

“But with the Act, you will be allowed to raise your objection, argue it, but you cannot appeal it.”

The lawyer also noted that Buhari’s appeal to the legal professionals should not be misunderstood to mean that lawyers should not defend persons charged with criminal cases.

He said, “The president was saying that there is a distinction between defending a criminal suspect and fabricating defence for him and doing unethical things in order to outsmart the justice system, confuse the issue and subvert the course of justice.”

He however called for the punishment of lawyers found to be delaying the course of justice, saying Buhari’s appeal alone would not deter them.

“It’s embarrassing that a former military man is the one telling lawyers to fight corruption because we should be the ones championing the cause as lawyers,” he said.

Meanwhile, with less than 50 days to the end of its mandatory 180 days to give judgment on cases before it, the National and state Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Cross River State has warned lawyers that it will no longer tolerate delays.

The tribunal, presided over by Justice Christopher Awubra, had during the commencement of sitting on May 12 warned lawyers to desist from making frivolous applications and requests for unnecessary adjournments.

Source: The PUNCH.

EFCC preliminary report on Fashola ready —CACOL claims

Written by:
Lanre Adewole – Lagos

A preliminary investigative report on the financial dealings of the administration of former Governor Babatunde Fashola is reportedly ready with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The disclosure was by the Chief Executive of anti-corruption advocacy group, Coalition Against Corruption (CACOL), Mr Debo Adeniran in an exclusive interview with the Nigerian Tribune, on Tuesday.
Adeniran claimed that the chairman of the anti-corruption agency, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde gave him the information when they both met penultimate Tuesday.

Tinubu is not our sponsor, says CACOL

August 26, 2015 : Ramon Olademeji.

   

The Executive Chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said on Tuesday that contrary to some people’s belief, the group was not doing the bidding of a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu.

CACOL, which recently called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to give Tinubu’s successor, Babatunde Fashola, any ministerial appointment having spent N78.3m to upgrade his personal website while in office, said it was not being used by Tinubu against Fashola.

Adeniran, who addressed journalists in Lagos on Tuesday alongside leaders of other Civil Society Organisations, said CACOL had investigated Tinubu but could not pin any evidence of corruption on him.

He, however, said the group’s battle with Fashola was yet a long-drawn one, saying that the battle had got to the point of no return.

He said, “Bola Ahmed Tinubu was arraigned at the level of the Code of Conduct Tribunal and a number of allegations have been levelled against him. We even helped to amplify some of these allegations.

“When Bola went to court and obtained an injunction, we said that was not satisfactory to us; we said that Bola should come to the open to defend the allegations that the PDP levelled against him. We said that was the only way he could be seen not to be guilty as alleged, but nobody has been able to prove the allegations.

“We actually went out and tried to verify some of the companies that they said belonged to Bola. We couldn’t find his name on the list of the directors of some of these companies. We didn’t find his name at the Lands Registry; we didn’t find his name at the Ministry of Housing and all that. A lot of people think that we have a godfather in him, it is not true. We looked at him eyeball to eyeball and said ‘go and defend yourself.”

Adeniran, however, reiterated his call on Buhari not to give Fashola any appointment, saying CACOL had found from Fashola’s antecedents that he was anti-people.

Source: The Punch.

Fashola Appropriated N78m For Personal Aggrandisement –Adeniran

Debo Adeniran, social crusader and Chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), is a leading critic of former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola. He recently urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to consider Fashola for appointment over the unexplained financial transactions of Lagos under his watch. In this interview with TUNDE OPESEITAN, he gave reasons for his actions. Excerpts:

How would you react to the allegation that about N78.3 million was spent for website upgrade by the immediate past regime in Lagos State?

Comrade Debo Adeniran
Comrade Debo Adeniran

When the news broke that he (Fashola) spent about $400, 000 to upgrade his website, we initially thought he brought out the money from his private account, but when we now checked on the website of the Lagos State Public Procurement Commission, we discovered that N78. 3 million of public fund was spent. Then we cross-checked on word press and our findings revealed that the most expensive website in the world today is around N600, 000. We then queried the firm that handled the upgrade and that was when they came out with the revelation that they only collected N10 million. Actually they wanted N12 million, but N10 million was paid. So, the question that arose is where is N68.3 million that is the difference between N10 million paid for the job and N78.3 million that was approved to which the Lagos State official website claimed was paid for the service? So, it is not so much about insisting that somebody has stolen the money; we are just saying that the chief accounting officer of that regime should give us explanation on where the N68.3 million is. He should tell us what they did with the money whether it was returned to the coffers of the state government and why should it be that the governor would spend so much money to finance his own personal website? It is immaterial that the website was meant to showcase the achievement of the gentleman, but the state as an institution has its own website and the question is why would that not be enough? Why couldn’t they have created a section of the state website to showcase these achievements? Afterall everything that the state website contains must be the achievements of the regime in power during that period. So, why should they create another website for the governor in his own personal name because the website was not created as governor of Lagos state but in the name of Babatunde Raji Fashola? That is why we are worried that that could have been appropriated for personal aggrandizement.

           

You were one of the major voices that questioned the integrity of Governor Fashola while in office. Why did you walked along that line when it seemed unpopular to do so?

If you remember in 2009 and early 2010, there was this publication by the True Face of Lagos questioning the contracts that were awarded and some that were re-awarded. The group had alleged that the contracts were massively inflated and when we saw it, we were alarmed. Then, the state government’s response was not satisfying to the extent that they said the True Face of Lagos was a faceless group and the rest of them. We now said it does not matter who pushed such allegation to the public and that the most important thing was for the government to state whether the allegations were true or not. If they were not true, state your position about it. We then wrote the state government and they failed to respond. When we waited for so long and there was no response, we then wrote the Lagos State House of Assembly asking that they should probe themselves because they were also indicted in the same publication and probe the executive. When the House of Assembly picked up the issue and set up a committee to probe the allegations, Richard Akinola went to court using the late Bamidele Aturu to challenge that and they got an injunction stopping the House from going ahead with the proceeding in the probe of the allegations. But we were not satisfied by that because if the regime, as headed by Tunde Raji Fashola had nothing to hide, it was not the court that they ought to have headed for; they ought to have opted for explanation. But when that explanation was not forthcoming and the House had been stopped from proceeding, we now wrote another petition that was sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). We adopted the one for the EFCC after we were invited. Now, by the end of February of 2010 when we did not get any serious response, we gathered our information and put it as an advertorial in a newspaper and still no response came from government because we said if they had anything to defend in the allegation, they should respond. And when they failed to respond for so long, we took it as a notorious fact and that was why we also went back to EFCC to say look these people have not defended anything; why have you decided not to prosecute them? They told us that they had started inviting principal officers of the regime and that they have started questioning them. That we did for so long and when we did not get any usable answer, we went to town and invited five people from each of the then twenty Local Governments to the Institute of Medical Research in Yaba in what we called Lagos Open Parliament and there we raised the question that each representative should tell us their impression of government’s performance in their Local Governments and there were tale of woes and our reaction was that this was a governor that was being carried as being performing. Remember, that was about the time he had just done something in Oshodi and we knew that what he did in Oshodi was not a state government’s job because it was about re-arranging the motor parks, markets and the road there is of the Federal Government. The only thing you can say belong to the state is may be the flyover. We were of the opinion that this was a local government function that had been usurped by the state government with the view to get popular support. So, at the Lagos parliament, we administered questionnaires on the people and the response was in the negative. We were still not satisfied and we went to town to administer the questionnaires in all the local governments; we monitored the radio programmes; we monitored newspapers, internet and so on, and we got our responses. We went to town and we took photographs of the site we believed that things were not properly done. We prepared our findings into a manuscript and we even sent to the state government and also called a press conference. Still, there was no response and gradually we got our members together and compiled our findings into a book and we called it “Open Parliament 1,” the state of budgetary implementation in Lagos, 2009 to 2011 or thereabout. We sent copies to the state government and still, there was no response and then we were now wondering how a state government can be so snobbish. It was at that point that we declared protest without end and since then, it had been protest after protest in different formats. From what journalists published in the media, internet and so on, we compiled them into a book and termed it “Open Parliament 2.” We also sent it to the state government and there was no reaction. We even wrote under the Freedom of Information Act and the Ministry of Justice replied us that the FOI Act is not operative in Lagos, being a federal legislation. And the most annoying aspect was that Lagos was the centre of activities that led to the enactment of FOI Act. Fashola’s predecessor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu was part of the struggle for the emergence of FOI Act and it was worrisome that the same state under Fashola was now championing the sabotage of the FOI Act. So, the major reasons why we asked the presidency not to consider Fashola for appointment is because if a man that was that snobbish at the state level could be appointed into higher federal office, then it would not be too good. Fashola never believed in a law that sought to enhance transparency, openness, probity and participatory governance, and such a man does not deserve higher appointment.                        

How would you react to the allegation that you are being sponsored to rubbish Fashola at all cost?

Well, that is the normal thing you hear when things are like this. When people commit indefensible offences and you expose them, you are bound to hear something of such. Even if I’m being sponsored to raise critical questions that you have not been able to answer, why not? Infact, I will like to be sponsored to do what I love to do. The question is not about who is the messenger, the question is about the message. But I should tell you, nobody sponsored us. If we had gotten people to sponsor us, we would have done a better book; we would have had enough copies to circulate to everybody in Lagos; we would have been able to buy newspapers’ pages and advertise the book beyond what anybody can stop; we would have done so much more than what you are hearing. Because of paucity of resources, we compiled one book for almost three years. The second book we compiled it for more than two years. If we have sponsors, all of these things could be done within six months or less and we have done it in greater quantity. To directly answer your question, nobody sponsored us, but we would be glad if we have sponsors.

In the past few months, the EFCC has suddenly woken up to its responsibility. How do you see this?

That is the kind of reaction you get from the body language of the present regime. There is no agency that can be more effective than the regime that sets it up. That is why people say he who pays the piper dictate the tune. There is no agency that will not study the body language of the regime that puts it together before it acts and so it is because they saw the pedigree and antecedents of the president in power now that is simply making them to be alive to their duty. I believe that they are yet to be empowered the way they should because we at the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders have advocated that the anti-corruption agencies should be strengthened; they should be better funded; they should be better trained; they should be better equipped; they should be better protected because they are also exposed to so much danger while they carry out their assignments, but that has not been done. The body language of the present regime is to the effect that they are going to get enormous support from the regime if they do their work and that is why they are doing what they are doing and that is why we think what they are doing is good.

Talking about body language, so many people have criticized President Buhari and his vice, Prof Yemi Osinbajo for failing to declare their assets publicly. Is that not a direct departure from their anti-corruption posture?         

Well, we are one of those critics. Our criticism of Buhari regime is that he entered a covenant with us that within the first hundred days, he would do it. Granted that the end of the first hundred days has not come, but we believe that he could have started on the right tooting by ensuring that the Assets Declaration Form which he filled got to the press even before it got to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). No law would have been violated by so doing. Now, if they don’t have anything to hide, they ought to have done it. If they now make it public there, the credibility that would have been achieved is no longer there because they have assumed power and they have assumed influence that could overwhelm even the CCB to play things down. If they had done it immediately they were sworn-in, it would have been more acceptable. But largely, the subsequent actions have been okay.

Source: Daily Independent.

Fashola: We’re ready to wrestle with pigs for accountability —CACOL leader

     The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) recently wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari warning him not to elevate the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola. CACOL’s Executive Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran, speaks with MOSES ALAO, on why the group is on the trail of the former governor and the need for accountability in Nigeria’s body-politic. Excerpts:

RECENTLY, the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, accused your organisation of writing a preemptive letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, raising allegations that have not been proven. Why did CACOL write a letter that appears to be targeted at stopping Fashola from being appointed into Buhari’s cabinet at this point?

You are wrong. The effort to get Mr Babatunde Fashola to be accountable started in 2009.

But the fact that you wrote that letter to the president now is suspect. Why is CACOL on Fashola’s trail at a point that he is likely to be appointed by the president? How many other likely appointees did you write to Buhari about?

We cannot work on everybody. There are certain things that have obvious answers. It is only those that we know that we can work on. When you talk about why we are on Fashola’s trail, you just need to look at the need to hold our leaders accountable. CACOL is not being sponsored by the state; it is our members that contribute the funds that we utilise to do the little that we can do; so we only take one step at a time.

We are in Lagos and we are witnesses to the budgetary presentations year in year out, which can be put at an average of N500 billion yearly. We know that international organisations like UNESCO, WHO and World Bank, among others, contributed to some of the projects that are supposed to have been executed in Lagos, especially in the areas of provision of water, drainage system and aesthetic, that is citing of ornamental plants and so on were also done with contributions from corporate organisations, which are in abundance in Lagos. So, when we pieced all of these together, we discovered that more than N5 trillion could have been budgeted for and expended in Lagos in the past eight years by the government headed by Mr Fashola. We moved round Lagos and we discovered that there were no adequate signs that such amount of money was properly utilised. We suspected that as early as 2009. By February 2010, we wrote the first petition, after we had been frustrated, having tried in vain to see everyone that needed to be seen for explanation. We wrote that petition to the Lagos State House of Assembly and we submitted it in a public protest that was covered by the mass media. The House set up a panel to investigate the claims in the petition, but the state government went to court by proxy, using Richard Akinnola; the late Bamidele Aturu was his lawyer. They succeeded in getting an injunction restraining the House from proceeding with the investigation. If a governor does not have anything to hide, why is it difficult for him to allow an investigation by an arm of the same government and just present his side of the story?

Remember also that a group called the True Face of Lagos came up with damning allegations about the financial recklessness of the Fashola’s administration. But he didn’t defend himself or state his own side of the story; he only said the group was faceless. It got to a stage that we went round all the locations that the True Face of Lagos mentioned and we decided to give a face to what they did; so we adopted their petition and sent it to the governor to give us their response, but they did not respond.

Can you remember when you sent that petition?

That was in 2010 but we didn’t get anything. Out of frustration, we wrote to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the commission claimed that it had got our petition and that it invited some directors and other top officials. The commission claimed it got a detailed report, which it would not release to us because Fashola had immunity. Out of frustration, also, we went to town, called representatives of all the local governments together in a hall and we called in Lagos Open Parliament. Through that platform, we got reports from each local government about how the government was able to implement the appropriation law, how effective or otherwise it was. We administered questionnaires and the entries were recorded. We gave at least 2,000 questionnaires to each local government, retrieved the ones we could and analysed them. We monitored mass media and social media reportage of budget performance and we gathered that the implementation was far less than expected. We didn’t stop at that; we took photographs of areas where expectations of the people were not met and we put all our findings in a book. We also monitored the internet and we compiled these findings into a book we called ‘Lagos Open Parliament: A report of the underground assessment of the state of budgetary implementation on infrastructural development in Lagos State between May 2007 and May 2011.’ The book can be accessed on our website. It contains pictures, data, graphs, tables and so on. But after all of these, we thought that we could be wrong and so we sent copies to the government; but I must tell you that we had even sent manuscripts to the government before publishing the book, telling them that if they had any defence to make, they should do it. We started updating that book through the same process. We also kept on reminding the anti-corruption agencies every year but they didn’t give us the feedback we desired; we were waiting and complaining. We grumbled about why everyone should ignore us when we had presented how expectations of people were not met and no one explained why government was right and we had been wrong. After that frustration, we vowed that it would be protest without end.

But it is appearing as if CACOL just woke up at the prompting of some people to hunt Fashola.

That is not correct. If you could recall, before the last general elections, we had a public demonstration, warning the Lagos public not to vote for Mr Akinwumi Ambode, because he was coming from the same stock with Fashola. It was also at that time that we asked former Governor Bola Tinubu to come out in the open and defend all the allegations against him in the documentary aired on AIT. We told him that rather than go to court to stop the documentary, he should defend himself in the open on allegations the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) levelled against him, because the court has always been deployed as a tool to keep others quiet about issues. Unfortunately, we didn’t get anything out of those efforts.

So, when elections came and went, we knew that President Buhari, whose election we supported because of his pedigree, antecedent, personality and integrity he exudes, would be able to fight corruption. But when we saw this gentleman, Fashola, dancing around the president, following him everywhere and fraternising with him, we suspected that he could have been lobbying the president for a post and we knew that would be dangerous for Nigerians’ collective wellbeing.

Why did you think so?

You would recall that Lagos State was a theatre of activism during the clamour for the Freedom of Information Act. But we wrote to the Lagos State government back then, asking them to give us all the information we needed regarding the corruption allegations based on FOI Act and the state that was governed by Fashola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), replied us through its Ministry of Justice that the FOI law passed by the order of the National Assembly was not applicable to Lagos. We were taken aback then and that was why we said if Fashola had his way to the federal level, he would discourage the federal government from engaging in pro-people governance. He is not likely to allow transparency, accountability and probity. He might even work towards the repealing of the FOI Act. So, it was on that basis that we had to write Buhari that instead of elevating Fashola, he should get him investigated and possibly prosecuted. That was the basis of our letter.

But Fashola made a reference to some pigs somewhere who he would not like to wrestle with. Is CACOL sponsored by some anti-Fashola elements to stop him from being appointed into office?

Look at it from this angle, if you want pork, won’t you wrestle with a pig and make sure it dies? CACOL wants a piece of pork and that pork is to make our leaders remember that they are accountable to the people, who are the owners of the sovereignty. That is what we are doing and we are going to wrestle this pig into submission and we will not allow the pig to go into our barn, because it will destroy everything it finds there.

I want to tell you that if we had been sponsored since 2009, we would have been able to fight him more frontally than we are doing. He would not have been able to cover his tracks. It is because we had no access to government shelves that we have not been able to compel the anti-graft agencies to prosecute him. If we were sponsored, we would have been able to mobilise Lagosians and we would have been able to buy media spaces to make our points. As I am speaking with you, CACOL is not sponsored by anyone; we do not have money, but we have intellect; we have the know-how; we have the spirit of activism, patriotism and progressivism and these are driving us. We believe that someone must stand for what is right. That is what obtains in Nigeria, whenever anyone says anything against a top personality, such person will be accused of being sponsored.

The former governor said the allegations against him could not be substantiated, that you have no evidence.

It took us five years to get facts and reports that we have published and he has failed to ever respond to. So what is the evidence that we are being sponsored? Fashola said we did not have any evidence, when every top civil servant in government had been sworn to secrecy not provide any evidence. The only statute we could use to compel the MDAs to give evidence had been made ineffective in Lagos and what we did was to go into the fields and question how contracts were awarded and executed even when the facilities were nowhere to be found.

But he said his job was done, having served the state for 12 years.

Which job was done? Is it roads? Is it schools? Is it hospitals that we will talk about? There is nothing that is not in a bad state in Lagos; there is always flood anytime there is a heavy rain; the drainage system is too shallow. Fashola started building on the lagoon, go and look at what they are doing at Ilubirin and what they call the Atlantic City. Is that what Lagos needs? Why is the money spent on the cable bridge in Ikoyi not utilised on an expressway that will run from Ikorodu to Epe and back to Lekki so that people could move freely, because that is the axis where people who only depend on their ingenuity to earn a tuning for themselves are. But their roads are bad; there is no security in Lagos. Security of lives and properties is in a shambles. So, what can we not talk about? If anyone says someone is sponsoring CACOL, we are happy that we are being sponsored to do what is right; but I can tell you that we are only being sponsored by our members who contribute what they have towards emancipating people from physical and moral enslavement they were subjected to by the administration of Fashola and we are not going to stop at anything but to achieve freedom for them.

Finally, do you subscribe to the claim in some quarters that the current fight against corruption is selective?

There is no way the corrupt elements will not complain that the anti-graft agencies’ war is selective; even when you publish a story, they will accuse you. How come you won’t select? Once it is only those who perpetrated corruption that are being selected, we are happy with that. If it is only those corrupt elements on whom we have adequate evidence and witnesses that are being selected, Nigerians will be happy with that. Inasmuch as no innocent person can come out to claim that he is being wrongly prosecuted, you cannot prevent elements that are drowning from clutching to any available means, even straws, in order to discredit any effort towards bringing them to justice. Everyone who has perpetrated corruption must rot in jail. Unless we all put our acts together to kill corruption, corruption will kill us. We should not allow corruption to kill us. We should banish corruption.

Source: Sunday Tribune.

Special courts needed for corruption cases –CACOL

Buhari to set up special courts for looters

Sunday 23rd August , 2015 10:30 am

Buhari

 

The Federal Government has begun moves to establish special courts to try corruption-related cases as part of the efforts to fight graft in the country.Saturday PUNCH’s investigations on Friday revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari was opting for a comprehensive onslaught against the problem of corruption in the country.

It was learnt that the President had concluded plans to submit a bill on the planned special anti-corruption courts to the National Assembly.

The PUNCH had on Monday exclusively reported that the Presidency had commenced the process of identifying fearless judges that would be saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting corrupt persons.

It was also gathered that the Federal Government was planning to establish 37 of the Special Courts to try corruption in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and the 36 states of the Federation.

A top operative of one of the anti-graft agencies, who confided in one of our correspondents, said that the Federal Government decided to set up the planned special courts because of the long delay by regular courts in deciding corruption-related cases.

It was further gathered that the President recently made a demand for 36 judges with the requisite integrity and boldness to decide cases in line with the law and not according to influence of the people or the pecuniary gains that come with associating with them.

The anti-graft officer said, “The President is being careful; he does not want people to do a wishy-washy job for him.

“Buhari is pressing for the establishment of special courts to try corruption cases. He wants the courts to be established in Abuja and the 36 states of the federation so that they can fast-track such cases.”

Investigations further revealed that the Federal Government had contacted the National Judicial Council to provide judges with impeccable reputation to preside over the planned courts.

It was gathered that the NJC released the names of 100 judges from the 36 states of the federation to the leadership of three major anti-corruption bodies in the country after an internal process of selection.

The judges were screened by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission and the Department of State Security on Tuesday.

It was gathered that the focus of the on-going screening exercise is to identify judges with a passion for the law and the constitution rather than deference to personalities.

The officer stated, “On Tuesday, the NJC forwarded the list of 100 judges to the anti-corruption agencies for screening. The exercise is meant to select the judges for the special courts the President is moving to establish to try corruption cases.

“The plan is to get judges that are bold, courageous, and fearless. Many of them must have delivered sound judgements (in the past). They don’t want those who play to the gallery.

“The screening exercise is very intensive; they are passing through the NJC that has the list of all the judges. When the NJC is through with its screening, it passes the list of the judges to security operatives and the anti-graft agencies to continue with the investigation.

“And because this is a democracy, they have to go through acceptable legal channels; they have to amend the constitution to set up these courts. They want to start with speed; even the legislatures have to be involved to amend the constitution.”It was also learnt that the anti-graft agencies screened the judges by doing background checks on them, particularly looking at their history at the bench.

The source said, “We are working on the information we got about them (the judges). There are those who have been compromised in the past, who will not be part of the arrangement.”

But the anti-corruption agencies are not saying much about the on-going screening exercise, which is said to have entered its second phase.

When our correspondent contacted the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on the telephone on Friday, he said that he was not aware of it.

“I am not aware of the exercise you are talking about,” he said.

Similarly, the Resident Consultant, Media and events of the ICPC, Mr. Folu Olamiti, said that he could not comment on the story, when contacted.

“I can’t comment on it,” he said.

Also, the Acting Director, Information, National Judicial Council, Mr. Soji Oye, said he was not aware of any plan to create special corruption courts.

It will be recalled that the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, had in 2012, when he was being screened by the Senate, called for the establishment of special courts for corruption cases.

He had said, “The reason for the clamour for special courts for certain cases has to do with the processes of law. Judges have corrupt cases and other cases to attend to, but if we have special courts for corruption cases, it would facilitate the process. I don’t think it will be too much to ask that a special court be dedicated to corruption cases.”

Lagos lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, and Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Mr. Debo Adeniran, described the plan to create special courts to handle corruption cases as a welcome development.

But a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Joseph Nwobike, described the establishment of such courts as needless.

Keyamo, however, urged the government to put certain resources and laws in place for such special courts to achieve their intended goals.

He said, “Establishment of special courts will not solve the entire problem of anti-corruption cases and it will not solve all the problems of criminal cases. But it will go a long way if the courts are well equipped and have rules that will help fast track such cases.

“Special courts will not address the integrity of judges that will be sitting there. It is a welcome development and government should go ahead to establish them but some things should be put in place for the courts to achieve the intended goals.”

Adeniran also described the establishment of special corruption courts as desirable. He said such courts would help in quick determination of corruption cases.

He said, “It is desirable to the extent that it will hasten up the adjudication on corruption cases and will make it easier for the judges to handle.”

But Nwobike said that instead of creating special courts, government should focus on capacity building to enhance the competence of investigators and prosecutors.

He said, “It is needless. It will amount to waste of judicial resources to set up special courts to try corruption cases.”

Source:Citifmonline

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