The General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee on the 2015 General Election has thrown its weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s war on corruption, but has cautioned him against the intimidation of any citizen in the process.
The committee, made up of eminent personalities, was at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday, for a meeting with the president.
Emerging from the meeting, Catholic Archbishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah, told State House correspondents that just like other Nigerians, the committee was not against Buhari’s fight against corruption, but was keen on due process being observed.
He observed that the country was no longer under a military administration and, therefore, everyone must be assumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
Bishop Kukah, who denied that the committee was at the Presidential Villa to intercede for former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, whose administration being probed, said Jonathan’s commitment to nation building and achievements were spectacular, adding that President Buhari appreciated that.
He said: “It is not heating up the polity. In our conversation with Jonathan and members of the parties, I don’t think any Nigerian is in favour of corruption or is against the president’s commitment to ensuring that we turn a new leaf.
“I think what we are concerned about is process. It is no longer a military regime and under our existing laws everybody is innocent until proven guilty.
“Again, our own commitment is not to intimidate or fight anybody. The former president’s commitment and what he did still remains spectacular and I think that President Buhari himself appreciates that. So, our effort really is to make sure that the right thing is done.”
Noting that the committee was not at the meeting on behalf of Jonathan, Kukah stated that even though the committee planned to see the former president in the course of its work, Jonathan had never contacted it for anything.
“Anybody is free to come to our committee, but President Jonathan never by telephone or another means talked to the committee. We went to see him, but that was after we had already seen members of the political party and members of the civil society,” he said.
Speaking the committee’s engagements, he said: “This is a very planned series of intervention essentially just to hear out everybody and I think the goodnews is that Nigerians are committed to a new nation, they are committed to ensuring that the gains and blessings God has given us come to fruition.”
He explained that the committee was not an intervention body, saying “this is not an intervention. It is not a hearing out process. When we had election, it was like a wedding. Now, the reality of government is now the marriage and people need to be encouraged.
“We need to reaffirm that this is our country and the only thing we can collectively be opposed to is injustice, iniquity, corruption and in that regard we all had one single conversation.
“The president has also reaffirmed the need for this committee to continue and the international committee has very much welcomed the contributions of the committee. Essentially, we are not policing, but when the need arises, help to build confidence in the process.”
He revealed that the committee gave the president an update on the relevance of the peace committee “and how we can help to nurture what God has given to us.”
At the meeting were the chairman and former head of state, General Abubakar, who led the delegation; the Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar III; the Metropolitan Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Diocese, John Cardinal Onayeikan; the Primate of Church of Nigeria, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh; President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and the Bishop Hassan Kukah, Senator Ben Ndi Obi and Chief Priscilla Kuye. – Nigerian Tribune.