A rights group, Muslims Rights Concern, MURIC, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to shun calls for the release of former public and political office holders being tried for corruption.
In a statement Monday, the executive director of the group, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, said Nigeria needed to apply limit to its obedience of the rule of law at this time to enable it to make headway in bringing those who looted the treasury to book.
The MURIC director said if released on bail, some of the suspects might flee the country, evading justice in the process.
The statement said, “Members of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some sponsored groups have accused the Federal Government (FG) of failing to respect the rule of law in its ongoing war against corruption. They want looters, saboteurs and traitors to be granted bail and set free even when it is obvious that such people are most likely to jump bail by fleeing from the country.
“The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) frowns at any attempt to make a mockery of the rule of law. It is a flagrant abuse of the principles of democracy to talk of human rights in defense of those who diverted huge funds earmarked for the purchase of arms. It is only in Nigeria that self-confessed criminals are indulged under the guise of democracy and the rule of law.
“How can anyone be talking of the rule of law now when the same rule of law gave those who stole N33 billion police pension fund a pat in the back and asked them to pay N750,000 only! The rule of law guaranteed the freedom of a dictator’s son who laundered N446 billion. The rule of law gave everlasting immunity to a former governor of Rivers State who stole $500 million. The list is endless.
“It has always been looting ad infinitum and the law had always looked the other way. But now that integrity is in power and it is making thieves accountable, suddenly we find the rogues appearing in court on wheelchairs, some with crutches, all in an attempt to hoodwink Nigerians. Some insist on being allowed to travel abroad just to treat ordinary sore throat. How can we be so careless as to grant their wish?
“Can’t we see the implications on the lives of 180 million people if 55 people only have the temerity to steal N3.1 trillion within six years and they still have the audacity to hide under the rule of law to enjoy their loot while the rest of us whistle for our dinner? Does that not explain why there are no good roads, no electricity, no qualitative education and no drugs in the public hospitals? Should we still play dumb by allowing them to escape to some remote island?
“Rule of law without limits will protect, promote and project corruption. It will provide escape routes for kleptomaniacs and put our gallant propagators of the war against corruption in chains. We must draw a thick line of demarcation between corruption and rule of law.
“Nigerians should beware of rule of law without borders. Even the greatest democracies in the world apply limits to their practice of rule of law. That is why the United States has Guantanamo Bay, the widely condemned practice of rendition and waterboarding as a special form of torture. Yet it is all in the national interest. They are all practiced to fight terrorism, America’s greatest challenge of our time.
“Terrorism is America’s greatest challenge and the rule of law was not allowed to protect it. In the same vein, corruption is Nigeria’s greatest challenge today and we should not allow the rule of law to stand between us and victory over corruption. We must see the need to create a border line between corruption and rule of law.
“The two are incompatible. Corruption is like a gangrene sticking hard to the national anatomy, sucking its blood dry. This gangrene must be burned out with hot iron if necessary. Corruption is a giant monster with its jaws wide open to swallow up the social order. In fact, corruption is a potent threat to the rule of law. We must therefore destroy corruption to save the rule of law otherwise society will collapse.
“It is difficult to understand the mentality of the PDP as a party as it continues to defend the indefensible. Shameful confessions are being made on a daily basis yet the party’s megaphones still find ways of extenuating the shocking revelations. Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are. It is birds of the same feather that flock together. We must leave the thieves to defend the thieves. They have the noun ‘thief’ and the verb ‘to steal’. Men and women of integrity must stand firm on the path of transparency, probity and accountability. We must allow the world to see that we are prepared to stand by the truth.
“For the avoidance of doubts, MURIC remains non-partisan and we do not care about the fortunes of any political party. But we must raise the alarm if the PDP which has been in power for 16 years is found to have taken this country to the cleaners.
“How can we remain neutral when in his popular hadith man raa minkunm munkaran, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) warned against sitting on the fence on matters like this? He said, ‘Whoever sees any evil should use his hands to change it. If this is not possible, he should employ his tongue (i.e. speak out against it). If this is not possible, he should use his heart (i.e. pray against it) but that (i.e.) using the heart) is the weakest form of faith’.
“How can MURIC turn the blind eye when the Glorious Qur’an also warned, ‘Beware of a calamity that will not befall the perpetrators of evil alone’ (i.e. both the guilty and the innocent will suffer, Qur’an 8:25). No wonder 180 million innocent Nigerians are suffering from the iniquities of a tiny cabal comprising of 55 selfish, greedy and avaricious people.
“The Italian poet, Dante Alighieri argued that ‘The hottest part of hell will be reserved for those who in times of moral crisis maintain their neutrality’. Therefore every conscious Nigerian must speak out against this massive fraud which led to the deprivation of our gallant soldiers of much needed weapons, the resultant death of several gallant soldiers, the destruction of many churches and mosques, the loss of more than 150,000 lives of innocent Northerners among them women and children as well as over one million people of the North East who fled their homes.
“We must not leave the ruling party, the All People’s Congress (APC), to do all the fighting alone. It is not about the APC. It is about Nigeria and our collective survival as a people. All of us are now suffering for the moral debauchery and financial recklessness of our past leaders.
“Finally, we appeal to the world community to ignore the crocodile tears of the opposition camp, the campaigns of calumny of its sponsored agents and the claims of vendetta and political victimization by PDP’s cronies. Nigerians support the war against corruption but we cannot afford rule of law without borders at this point in time”.