An elder statesman and revered Clergy, Dr. Moses Iloh, has been in the vanguard of advocacy for change, end to corruption and good governance. Dr. Iloh, an unrepentant supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari, in this interview with SUNDAY ODIBASHI, says National Assembly members are trying to illegally grant themselves immunity through the amendment of the CCB, CCT Act.
WOULD you consider the manner the Department of Security Service (DSS) arrested judges recently over corruption a sort of strengthening the anti-corruption war?
The point is this, it doesn’t matter how you do it; judges as a result of the surprise attack have shown they are corrupt. The way they were arrested or the way they were not arrested, has little significance. If the DSS had found nothing at their homes against them, then, we can crucify the DSS, challenge them to show substantive evidence. The judges, themselves, are talking, making confessions who approached them and for what purpose. The judges should be prosecuted.
Judges are regarded as clean and revered public officers, guardians of uprightness with high ethical values. That is why they are entrusted with the duty of dispensing justice on the unclean. How can you imagine that judges at that level can be suspected of corruption? It shows that if you now go down to the level of Magistrate, the judiciary will be stinking like a dead animal.
There is no apology on what the DSS did; let them go to court and prove their innocence. The federal government should ensure they don’t travel out of the country while on trial. They should be given no preference, whatsoever, until they are proved innocent.
I was surprise some of the judges were still sitting in courts to administer justice; they should stop disgracing Nigeria. The federal government should set up a special court to try them speedily. They should let them go through the same process that every ordinary man passes through. Corruption knows no crown; corruption knows no king; corruption is corruption.
Are you not considering revelations by some of the judges that some ministers approached them to compromise election cases, that they are attacked for resisting the inducement?
Supposing the judges were not arrested, would they have exposed the ministers? So, the judges are truly corrupt. They are telling Nigerians that ministers approached them, they didn’t tell people those they took money from. They should provide proof that the ministers approached them; if there is reasonable proof, the ministers should be arrested and prosecuted also.
Do you endorse the amendment of the CCB, CCT Acts by the National Assembly, taking over some powers of the President?
This is what spoils the name of Nigeria. What they have done shows that corruption is fighting corruption. The lawmakers know the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives have serious cases of corruption hanging on their necks. Now, they are using their powers to fight the President. People in the Senate and the House want to stop anybody from touching them on corruption. They are illegally trying to grant themselves immunity through amendment of the CCB, CCT Acts, and this must be resisted.
Now, Abdulmuminu Jibrin should be supported by all Nigerians; government should investigate all the allegations he has made. Unfortunately, Nigerians are all keeping quiet on Jibrin. Jibrin is now fighting a lone case. All the youths, workers, traders, should come out for mass action on the streets to support Jibrin until he proves not telling the truth. The National Assembly is killing that matter; gradually, by silence, that matter will die. That is the wicked act that any authority will engage.
What should be done on that case now that Jibrin is on 180 days suspension?
He has gone to court, the court should accelerate hearing. He has gone to the Police, EFCC; whatever authority he has gone to, should investigate the matter as a case of priority. Keeping quiet means people who are corrupt are in authority. It is a disgrace to this country. Now, they don’t even think that Nigeria has a name, anyway.
On judges, President Buhari has said he never directed any minister to influence judges, how do you reconcile such disconnect?
I believe the President 100 per cent. He has been contesting elections over the years, why didn’t he bribe judges to win his cases in court. I support the President.
That, however, validates what I have been saying that President Buhari is surrounded by corrupt people.
But the judges who are accusing the executive of vengeance, they are also trying to be on vendetta. A man who is drowning is trying to grab anything to be saved.
Do you perceive any threat to democracy in Ondo State where INEC listed Jimoh Ibrahim as PDP governorship candidate based on court order issued by Justice Okon Abang in Abuja?
It is embarrassing that such judgment came from a High Court judge and INEC compromised established laws. I followed the politics of Ondo State in the preparations for the governorship election in November. I did not see Jimoh Ibrahim participate in the PDP primary election. Suddenly, Jimoh emerged a candidate, court does not have the power anywhere in the constitution to nominate candidates for political parties; only parties can nominate their own candidates. How else would you say Nigeria is a den of corruption? The High Court judge that gave that judgment should be arrested and prosecuted. Buhari is traveling all over the world to launder Nigeria’s image, some people are back home making it dirtier than it was.
INEC should be santised; this is fraudulent. They are dragging us backward. That INEC decision in Ondo State can trigger political violence in the country again.
Buhari has been unearthing and stripping the corrupt naked, the fight against corruption is a different fight entirely. Nigeria is still corrupt, corruption persists.
He has not started fighting corruption. The fight against corruption is deadly. Buhari should make up his mind on the consequences of corruption. It is complicated who interprets the laws, if it is these judges, then, Nigeria is set to be buried.
Are you aware of the concern that some judges look like sacred cows in this fight, have delivered controversial judgments, yet remain untouchable?
Any judge who delivers controversial judgment that causes conflicts should be arrested and prosecuted. If a judge gives judgment that does not comply with the law, arrest him. That means he is familiar with taking bribe.
Was the INEC intimidated by Jimoh Ibrahim to enlist him as PDP candidate when he accused INEC of demanding $1 million bribe from him?
If INEC can be intimidated, then, it is better to disband it now and establish a new electoral body. Before you can be intimidated in a bribery accusation, the accuser must have facts of negotiating with you, then, your compromise at a stage; and thereafter, your withdrawal from the deal. It seems INEC is trying to hide something; not to allow Jimoh expose the officials, otherwise, they should challenge him to prove his allegation.
What we have seen so far shows that it is time to disband the corrupt INEC. There are many young and dynamic men who have courage, intelligence and integrity to change Nigeria and make it work. I don’t believe everybody in Nigeria is corrupt. But you cannot fight corruption with the corrupt; Buhari should better know that. Corruption will be buried in one area and resurrects in another place.
Does that imply INEC is losing autonomy unlike in the years of Attahiru Jega?
Jega has integrity and I thought he should have been given a national honour by the Federal Government. With all the pressures and temptations, Jega stood his ground and did what was right at all time. The people there, now, are beginning to replant the seeds of corruption in INEC. What they are trying to do now in Ondo State can lead to bloodshed.
Do you believe in the existence of cabal in the Presidency controlling the government?
That is not true; I won’t listen to that. Those talking about the cabal are getting it wrong. Do you realise what it means to fight the corrupt in Nigeria. How many Nigerians can be like Buhari? What is worrying me is if in 2019 Buhari decides not to contests for second term, how do we replace him, where do we get another Buhari.
Now, Buhari is doing the impossible; he is fighting the corrupt who are so rich and so powerful. You don’t know what is going on underground in Nigeria. The rich and the corrupt want to break Nigeria; they won’t stop until they break Nigeria. But Buhari is fighting the corrupt; he is making sure security is guaranteed, and he is taking care to avoid any mistake; otherwise, the National Assembly will impeach him. One man is being so careful. You are an athlete; you are running a race and you are looking back; you won’t run fast. There are many enemies surrounding Buhari; people around him are so corrupt, they are evil friends and people who wish him bad. Those APC leaders around Buhari don’t want him to succeed. They know that if he succeeds with the corruption war, he will turn to them.
There is nothing like cabal; Buhari is taking his time, he has firm control. The guy is doing very well; God bless him. I am praying for him daily.
My worry now is that there is a kind of rascality that stepped into the APC. When it is time for next elections, Nigerians who are young, dynamic and intelligent should form a third political party because these two dominant parties have failed. APC does not think of Nigeria at all. If they are thinking of Nigeria, they will not allow a crack in their fold, they will make sacrifice. So, in the next dispensation, there will be no APC, then, how do you get a platform for Buhari.
What does the rejection of federal appointments by some APC members mean to you?
That means they did not consult well. Those fellows who rejected appointments know they are not capable to perform in those positions. I commend them, I give them all the credit for being bold; I respect them for admitting they are not competent for the job.
So, APC governors were right in complaining they were not consulted on appointments from their states?
The state owns the governor; governor does not own the state. Some states, if you give the opportunity, people will throw their governors out tomorrow morning. The President does not need to consult any governor. Going through governors on federal appointments is another way of corruption. The governor will not nominate a qualified or disciplined person who is against him; he will prefer a nonentity that is a stooge to him. So, what Buhari is doing is right.
About six months into Buhari’s second year in office, there is no solution yet to the economic recession, hardship is increasing, do you still have hope that he can redeem the situation?
I feel sorry and sad about the situation because I deal with the poor and I know the pains they go through. All I spend my life doing is to attend to the poor. My Mission statement reads: “living by His grace, living for Him, making little things great, making seemingly great things little.” I mingle with the poor every day; I feel sad that the poor are getting more impoverished and I do not see any sign showing there is light in the tunnel yet. I am worried; I wish I have the opportunity to talk to Mr. President. It is time to get experts from anywhere, including outside Nigeria, to tell him what the answer, the solution, to the economic crisis is. Set politics aside! Disregard APC or PDP, get the right people to run the government!
It is not only that Nigerians are suffering, it is getting more deplorable. My office is often crowded with people in need of help; whatever we have we give out to the poor, not only to church members. We run humanitarian services here for widows and very poor people. It is unfortunate that the number is increasing every week. We run a school in this community, providing free primary education. We buy uniform, feed the pupils at least once day, not only Christians, in fact, 80 per cent of our intakes are Muslims. As a person who relates with the poor, I really know the poor are suffering in this country. Whatever, the government wants to do should be done urgently to avert social uprising. Nowadays, the churches would have helped but they are also corrupt. The church in Nigeria is no longer the body of Christ, it has become business enterprise. Churches are getting richer while members are getting poorer. In the past, disciples of Christ in Bible went and sold all they have, brought the proceeds to the church which were shared to the brethren so that those who do not have lacked nothing.