Obasanjo accuses religious leaders of celebrating criminals

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Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday accused some religious leaders of anointing criminals who acquired wealth illegally to the detriment of the masses.

He said Nigerians cannot continue to celebrate criminals who enrich themselves from the commonwealth, and think that corruption will disappear automatically.

Obasanjo, who spoke at the 2017 Foundation Day Public Lecture, entitled: “Corruption and the Challenges of the African Child,” to mark the 14th anniversary of Dorcas Oke Hope Alive Initiative (DOHAL), in Ibadan, said those who loot the public purse must be seen and treated as undesirable in the community.

“This is where our religious leaders have to discriminate in favour of teaching of the scriptures and our cultural values. They anoint criminals for their ill-gotten wealth and demonise the poor. We must show our young people that there is dignity in labour and reward in transparency and integrity. Perhaps, this is one area where organisations like DOHAL must continue to invest,” Obasanjo said.

Obasanjo, who identified four steps capable of curbing corruption with a view to safeguarding the future of the country, stated further: “One, we must strengthen our law enforcement, and justice system, and encourage them to complement each other in the fight against corruption.

“When I was elected President in 1999, my administration took the issue of corruption very seriously and we established Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), as well as Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), among other anti-corruption initiatives. These institutions were provided the political support needed to fight corruption and they did their best.

“But once we left office, they became very politicised and weakened to the point that they were unable to discharge their duties. In fact, one of the governors, who had been labelled and gone to jail for corruption, was to look for replacement for Nuhu Ribadu (the pioneering chairman of EFCC), and you know the type of replacement he would get.

“There is need to support and strengthen these institutions, especially in the area of prosecution. The law enforcement agencies or the government alone cannot fight corruption. They must be supported by a judiciary that is upright and transparent. It is very demoralising to law enforcement officers when they painstakingly investigate a case and the culprit finds his way around the judiciary to escape”.

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