Abdulsalami Panel: we didn’t beg for Jonathan

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President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption battle got a major boost yesterday, with the Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee for the 2015 General Elections endorsing it.Besides, the committee denied the speculation that it was on a mission to plead for former President Goodluck Jonathan.Dr. Jonathan, who left office on May 29, has not been accused of any offence.Members of the committee, who met with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, said the on-going action against corruption wasin order.“It is not heating up the polity,” their spokesman, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kuka, told State House reporters after the meeting.The committee, however, cautioned against the abuse of due process.Rev. Kukah said the committee members, on Monday, met with Senate President  Bukola Saraki and spoke of plans to hold talks with House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara.Gen. Abdulsalami  led other members of the panel, including the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III; the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, the Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh.Others are: the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan; Dr. Kukah, who is the Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese; a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mrs. Priscilla Kuye and Senator Ben Obi.Briefing reporters on their mission to the Villa, Rev. Kukah denied that the Committee was intervening on Jonathan’s behalf  when it met behind closed doors with President Buhari.The former President was at the Villa last Thursday night for talks with his successor.There were unconfirmed reports that Dr. Jonathan approached the Gen. Abdusalami-led panel to plead with President Buhari as his administration beamed its searchlight on the activities of those who held public offices under the former president.But, the cleric noted that Jonathan never sought the committee’s intervention.Rev. Kukah said: “We gave a bit of update about the relevance of the peacecommittee itself and how we can help to nurture what God has given to us.“Anybody is free to come to our committee but President Jonathan never by telephone or another means talked to the committee.“We went to see him, but that is after we had already seen members of the political parties, members of the civil society. We planned to see the speakerbecause we couldn’t see him yesterday.“This is a very planned series of intervention, essentially just to hear out everybody and I think the good news is that Nigerians are committed to a new nation, they are committed to ensuring that the gains and blessings God has given us come to fruition.”On the committee’s mission, he said: “This is not an intervention; it is not a hearing out process. When we had election, it was like a wedding. Now thereality of government is now the marriage and people need to be encouraged.“We need to reaffirm that this is our country and the only thing we can collectively be opposed to is injustice, iniquity, corruption and in that regardwe all had one single conversation.”The bishop said the President reaffirmed the need for the committee to continue. The international community has also welcomed the contributions.Stressing that the committee has not been policing elected officials, Rev. Kukah said that the panel’s intervention will not only help to build but also strengthen confidence in the process.Commenting on the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption posture, the cleric said: “It is not heating up the polity. In our conversation with PresidentJonathan and members of the parties, I don’t think any Nigerian is in favour of corruption, or is against the President’s commitment to ensuring that we turn a new leaf.“I think what we are concerned about is process. It is no longer a military regime and under our existing laws everybody is innocent, until proven guilty.“Again our own commitment is not to intimidate or fight anybody. The former President’s commitment and what he did still remain spectacular and I think that  President Buhari himself appreciates that. So, our effort really is to make sure that the right thing is done.”

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