President Muhammadu Buhari has dismissed claims that his association with Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano has diminished his commitment to the war against corruption.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Thursday, the president said that “there is a difference between perception and reality’’.
It said that the president’s reactions followed comments after his presentation of Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, at a rally in Kano, on Thursday.
The statement cited a number of high profile prosecution of senior government officials including that of a former Secretary to the Government and a former state governor, who is a party member and now serving term in jail, as indications of the president’s will and determination to wage the anti-corruption war without fear or favour.
It also added that the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, is currently on administrative leave as part of President Buhari’s commitment to transparency and accountability.
The statement explained that despite some of the suspects being close to the President, he had not shielded them from investigation, administrative suspensions and prosecution.
The Presidency added that “it is sheer mischief to suggest that President Buhari is shielding anybody because of their closeness to him’’.
According to the statement, no official under this administration will go unpunished once they break the law.
On the specific issue of Gov. Ganduje of Kano State, the statement noted that “Ganduje, as a sitting Governor, enjoys immunity from prosecution in his own right.
“Furthermore, under Nigerian laws, a suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
“In the circumstances, the matter is in court and the President has no power to dictate to the court or the Kano State House of Assembly, which is already investigating the matter, about what to do with the allegations against Ganduje’’.
According to the statement, it is unfair to ignore the larger picture of the President’s major successes in the war against corruption, including blocking leakages of corruption, which in turn, boosted government revenues.
The statement challenged President Buhari’s critics to prove that those facing corruption allegations are innocent, adding that the “President’s zero tolerance for corruption has boosted and remarkably improved Nigeria’s image in the eyes of world leaders’’.