France-based international news agency, the Agence France-Presse, AFP, has stated that the war against corruption currently being waged by President Muhammadu Buhari can only succeed if he zeroes in on Nigeria’s immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
It warned that the many corruption cases being prosecuted by the Buhari administration may spin off to imperil his war against corruption, if Jonathan was not brought in as a key witness to the alleged crimes of the persons standing trial at various courts in the country.
AFP made its stand known in an editorial published on Friday which was titled: “the Goodluck Jonathan alibi” where it recalled that Buhari had previously warned the Nigeria’s financially-powerful elite that it was “no longer business as usual.”
“But with Nigeria in economic crisis as a result of the collapsing price of oil, analysts say Buhari can ill afford to alienate Jonathan and his allies, even if it threatens success in court,” it warned.
According to the news wire, “It would be easy to believe that Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is winning the war against corruption since his landmark election victory nearly a year ago. Hardly a week goes by without the country’s anti-graft agency announcing new arrests and investigations to add to the prominent politicians already in the dock.
“But the longer the cases already brought to court drag on, the clearer it becomes that a potential setback could prevent Buhari from securing the convictions he has promised — and Nigerians demand.
“Certainly, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has not implicated the former head of state in any of its ongoing investigations.
“But his glaring absence is increasingly posing problems for state prosecutors as the preliminary stages of cases are heard in court and trials get under way”.
AFP cited the money laundering trial of the spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metuh, who it quoted as claiming “he was only acting on Jonathan’s orders and last week argued he should be acquitted because the former president has not been called to the stand.
“The former president forms an indispensable witness,” Metuh’s lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu told AFP. It also quoted Metuh’s lawyer, Mr. Ikpeazu as saying “We are saying the failure to investigate what really amounts to an alibi is fatal to their case”.
The news agency continues, “one lawyer working for Sambo Dasuki, Nigeria’s former national security advisor, has also hinted at pursuing a similar defence.
“Dasuki, who is accused of diverting the weapons procurement cash through his office via bogus defence contracts, has himself said he was only doing the bidding of the then-commander-in-chief – Jonathan.”
Dasuki’s lawyer, Ahmed Raj also told AFP that “The national security advisor will normally carry out the instructions of his president,”.
Raji was also quoted by the agency as saying “You cannot talk about this matter without talking about President Jonathan.”
The media organisation then warned that “If the “Goodluck Jonathan alibi” works, many high-profile accused could potentially walk free, dealing a serious blow to Buhari’s pledge to root out endemic corruption and impunity.
“Buhari has previously warned the country’s monied elite it was “no longer business as usual, but with Nigeria in economic crisis as a result of the collapsing price of oil, analysts say Buhari can ill afford to alienate Jonathan and his allies, even if it threatens success in court,” the editorial noted.