President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he was detained for three years for fighting corruption in the country.
The President said that he was only released when his mother died.
Buhari was Nigeria’s Head of State between December 31st, 1983 and August 1985, when he was toppled by the regime of former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babnagida (IBB).
The President declared that fighting corruption was not an easy task, as it involved changing people’s attitudes towards breaking the trust imposed on them by the public, which he insists is also corruption.
He spoke in Abuja on Tuesday during the commissioning of the new headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The President said that he would not be deterred even as he is mindful of the fact that he was detained for three years for fighting corruption.
Buahri said: “We must change our ways of handling public trust. Corruption not only kills governments, but destroys societies. It is the major reason why we are struggling with basic developmental issues that other comparable nations have long overcome.
“The war of corruption is not an easy one to fight, because it affects so many different branches of our lives, so much that some people do not even consider breaking trust is anymore a crime. It has become the norm. That is why we must fight this attitude and encourage Nigerians to change their attitude and perspectives.
“The goal of this administration is to ensure the protection of public trust, and the anti-corruption war is at its centre. We never intended, and we are not engaged in witch-hunts, but we are determined within the laws to call people to account”.
On his past experiences, he recalled that “my last time to fight corruption, corruption fought back successfully. I was removed and detained for three years. I was in detention when my mother died. I was only released when she died, but that did not deter me. In spite of that, my objective of fighting corruption remains steadfast”.
Buhari added that “since 2015, we have made significant progress in the fight against corruption. Everyone now knows that corrupt officials will be held to account, no matter how long it takes.
“We have recovered and are still recovering trillions of naira that were stolen in the past few years by people without conscience. We are pursuing recoveries everywhere and are making sure that anyone who has been found culpable is made to answer for his or her crime under the law”.
He challenged the judiciary and the legislature to “add more verve to the determination of the government to rid our nation of the brazen corruption witnessed in recent years, through reviewing archaic provisions in our laws and proactive passage of new legislation”.
In his remarks, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said that despite the encomiums poured on Buhari at the occasion, it was incorrect to see Buhari as the only non-corrupt Nigerian.
Dogara said there were millions of corrupt-free Nigerians walking the streets, and equally deserve to be recognised, stressing that “we must begin to change the narrative about corruption” in Nigeria.
“The fact that we have seated here a president who globally acclaimed has been corrupt-free, I can tell you that he is not alone in Nigeria. There are millions of Nigerians that we come across daily that are corrupt-free.
“There are millions of Nigerians that have not bowed their knees to the god of corruption and that fact must be emphasised”, the Speaker stated.
He praised the completion of the new EFCC building as part of the seriousness of the administration in fighting corruption, noting that by the singular effort Buhari had demonstrated that, he is putting money where his mouth is.
The Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, said the commission had been making significant strides in the anti-corruption war, having secured 486 convictions in the past two years, including that of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN); 89 of the convictions this year alone.