Anti-corruption agencies recover N800b, secure 1,400 convictions ― Buhari
• Says police working to bring rapists to justice, vows to protect press freedom
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, said the nation’s anti-corruption agencies have secured more than 1,400 convictions and also recovered funds in excess of N800 billion.
In an address to mark this year’s Democracy Day, he assured that these monies are being ploughed into development and infrastructure projects.
The president said the government has continued to implement accountability and transparent policies through the Open Government Partnership and the transparency portal on financial transactions.
Similarly, he noted, the administration has strengthened its auditing and accountability mechanisms so as to ensure that rules and regulations are followed strictly.
While observing that the Public Service of Nigeria remains the bedrock for the formulation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects in the country, he noted that this accounts for why it continues to evolve especially as new socio-economic challenges emerge for Government to address.
He added: “I will continue to give all the necessary support for the on-going reforms designed to return discipline, integrity and patriotism as the hallmark of the public service.
“In the face of dwindling resources and rising cost of governance, I have authorized that the White Paper on the Rationalisation of Government Parastatals and Agencies be reviewed for implementation.
“Our youth population remains a source of strength in achieving development objectives. In this regard, we would continue to concentrate in developing their skills, providing them with opportunities to express their entrepreneurial, research and industrial capacities as well as ample opportunity to take leadership positions in the service of the nation.
“The commitment of this Administration to the well-being of people living with disabilities remains unwavering. Government recognises their contributions to development.
“I have directed that all relevant Government agencies pay special attention to the peculiarities of persons with disabilities in the formulation and implementation of their policies and programmes, and where suitable their employment.
“Nigerian women remain a particular treasure to this nation and for this reason, this Administration has continued to give them a place of pride in the affairs of our country.”
The president saluted their courage, enterprise and resilience as well as contributions to national development, assuring Nigerian women of the administration’s determination to fight Gender-Based Violence through the instrumentality of the law and awareness creation.
He said: “I am particularly upset at recent incidents of rape, especially of very young girls. The Police are pursuing these cases with a view to bringing perpetrators of these heinous crimes to swift justice.”
Speaking on press freedom, he averred that his government continues to recognize and harness the power of the media for positive development.
Buhari added: “will also like to convey our deep appreciation to members of the Press for your doggedness in the struggle for attainment of democracy since the beginning of our nationhood.
“I must admit that the relationship between the media and successive governments has not always been perfect. But there is no denying the fact that you have been an effective watchdog for the society especially in holding public officers to account. It is sad that in the course of securing our democracy, some of your colleagues have had to pay a heavy price.
“We will continue to guarantee freedom of the Press as we place high premium on responsible journalism that is devoid of hate speech, fake news and other unethical professional conduct.”
The president further said: “The reforms of the broadcast and advertising industries including digital switchover and continuous engagement through town hall meetings remain central to accurate and credible information dissemination.
“Our culture provides the basis for our existence as a people and a nation. In preserving iconic aspects of our national culture, this government has been pursuing the recovery of artefacts removed from Nigeria, promoting heritage sites and festivals and working towards designating some of our heritage sites as UNESCO World Heritage Centres.
“This administration is focused on ensuring that Nigeria would always be governed by the Rule of Law and I would do my utmost to uphold the constitution and protect the lives and property of all Nigerians.
“Government has initiated a number of policies and programmes designed to promote the legal rights of Nigerians, facilitate the institutionalization of a responsive legal system, provide support to all constituted bodies in implementing their mandates and improve our custodial system of justice.
“The National Assembly has been an important partner in our quest to sustain our democracy and achieve our development objectives.
“I therefore greatly thank the leadership and members of the Senate and the House of Representatives for their invaluable support at all times.
“Fellow Nigerians, as we celebrate this year’s Democracy Day, let us remember that notwithstanding our aspirations, humanity and indeed democracy is under the threat of Covid-19. Nigeria has survived many crises before and came out stronger. I am confident that by God’s grace we shall overcome this one and emerge stronger and more purposeful.”