Anti-Fashola campaign: Groups urge caution
A coalition of civil society actors has stressed the urgent need for anti-corruption campaigners to ensure their activities are driven and are guided strictly by utmost integrity in the overall interest of the development of Nigeria.
In a statement jointly signed by Barrister Samuel Adeola-Ilori-(President, Vote for Service Initiative) Steve Aborisade (Executive Director, Projekthope/Media Integrity) Engineer Olumide Alasoadura (Co-convener, Congress of Electorates) and released in Lagos, yesterday, read in part: “Particularly, we feel every speculation and allegations of corruption against anyone must be fully and incontrovertibly backed with evidence.
We are worried about the paucity of evidence compelling criminal prosecution of Fashola, which relied mainly on media reports and doubts cast by others in a petition sent to the EFCC by a group, which called itself the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) about a N73.3 million spent on a website www.tundefashola.com, as published on the Lagos state public procurement office’s website for 2014, reported by Premium Times on August 12, 2015.
We are not holding court for Fashola, nor are we saying he is above board, even to us the amount in question is colossal, but we believe that the credibility of our accusations should be supported by objective truth that is incontrovertible before we go to town to make accusations that may malign the integrity of individuals and groups.
We believe this must be a pre-condition to separate our activism from politically motivated actions, several of which we have witnessed lately that serves not the interest of the people beyond promoting the agenda of those behind it.
On Thursday, August 12, 2015, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, issued a rebuttal of the many allegations levelled against him, this same rebuttal, even if we doubt it, could have been offered to CSNAC had the group contemplated having the former governor’s side of the story.
As a private citizen now, CSNAC cannot claim to lack access to Babatunde Fashola, and as a civil society organisation interested in true justice, our actions should portray that sense of justice and exudes a much stronger sense of responsibility than what is currently on offer.”
According to the group, we may ask if CSNAC still feels the same way about its petition on this website issue, especially with the ‘No Objection’ that the procurement department gave the bidding through the advice of the state’s Ministry of Science and Technology as claimed by Fashola? “This is not to say that the justifications offered by the former governor is sacrosanct, but to those who have contrary facts, the gentleman former governor goes nowhere, and we are sure without immunity, his prosecution can be initiated if indeed he has run afoul of the law.
We state categorically that we are not against calls by well-meaning Nigerians signalling on the EFCC to step up their game and prosecute anyone found wanting of abusing the trust that the people placed in their care.
And we want to pointedly say that we find nothing wrong in investigating former governor Fashola and his actions while in office, but we want that done without the slightest hint at seeing out anyone’s ulterior motives.
We, however, expect civil society groups desiring a wholesale eradication of corruption from our land to match their actions with the responsibility, impartiality and credibility deserving of all effort which questions the integrity of others.
What the Nigerian anti-corruption effort need first and foremost is a level of credibility that instils confidence in all citizens no matter their affiliation, and we are happy Nigeria has a leader now committed to the integrity of processes.
Civil society organizations too must let their activity reflect the needed objectivity that adds credibility to their effort.
We are worried about the paucity of evidence compelling criminal prosecution of Fashola, which relied mainly on media reports and doubts cast by others in a petition sent to the EFCC by a group, which called itself the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC)
Questions must be asked when groups chose the war to fight and answers must be provided when individuals feel our actions unduly targets them while we appear to have ignored others deserving of similar treatment.
In a nutshell, we must be above board, and that must be the general perception, so that we don’t create doubts on what and where we stand. “Today, we must continue to ask questions about unresolved corruption cases involving elected officials and their cronies.
We should be concerned that the accounts of an arm of our government till date remained shrouded in secrecy in a democracy. We should be worried that nearly all the finances and procurements details of our federating states are hidden from their citizens.
And here we must actually note that we were able to have details of Fashola’s approved website cost because he elected to be open about procurement issues during his reign.
This is what we must insist be the case across the country. Every state should make its book public. This should be the norm.”