President Buhari apparently perceives opposition to be synonymous to corruption and doesn’t draw a distinct line between independent national institutions of state and partisan matters. In Buhari’s Nigeria, important institutions of state have been reduced to partisan fiefs of the ruling APC that are mostly headed by Buhari’s core partisan loyalists. For instance, the office of the attorney general and minister of justice has become an extension of APC’s legal department while revenue generating agencies like the customs, NIMASSA and NPA have become the rehabilitation centre for internally displaced but loyal party members of the ruling party. Similarly, state owned public information service providers such as NTA and NAN have become the propaganda arm of the ruling party. Osita Okechukwu, the DG of Voice of Nigeria, VON, comes across more like the DG of Voice of Buhari. In the Buharinisation of Nigeria, Nazi style, not even security agencies are spared. Not only has he disproportionately appointed individuals from his section of the country with direct political links to him into the top echelon of the nation’s security architecture, the Nigerian Police Force has degenerated in recent times to an arm of the security unit of Buhari’s APC. In addition to compromising state institutions on the basis of partisanship, the anti-corruption effort, if any at all, of the Buhari administration has been severely undermined by political expediency.
In what has become a familiar pattern, President Muhammadu Buhari’s so-called war on corruption is not only selective but also phantom. Expectedly, while he has not attempted to raise a finger on the Babachir Lawal grass-cutting affair, the bribe for contract scandal of Abba Kyari his chief of staff, the grand sleaze at the Border Communities Agency headed by one Junaid Abdullahi, his son in law and the numerous certificate forgery scandals of his appointees from Kemi Adeosun to Okoi-Obono Obla among many other issues of in house corruption, President Buhari has raised his two hands high in a spirited attempt to wield the big stick on the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onoghen for alleged corrupt practices. That Buhari who equates loyalty to his person to patriotism to the Nigerian state, intolerant of opposition while turning a blind eye on the corrupt activities of his blind loyalists stealing the nation blind, is now going after Justice Onoghen can only mean one thing; though not a member of the opposition, Justice Onoghen is not ready to surrender the independence of the Judiciary to the Buhari led executive. In Buhari’s Nigeria, there is no room for independence of state institutions as they must be put to the service of his political and regime interests.
Having failed on its three campaign promises of fixing the economy, insecurity and tackling corruption into the eve of election, Buhari’s APC is not sure of retaining power in a free and fair contest with the opposition coalition. The Muslim North, which is the traditional stronghold of President Buhari, has cracked under the weight of his incompetence and inability to improve the lot of the people. Buhari’s provincial proclivity which has seen him elevate sectionalism to a near state policy, which has only benefited a few family and friends in northern Nigeria, has also pressed the rest of Nigeria together against him. Faced with the reality of imminent defeat, not a few people believe that President Buhari is trying hard to compromise the judiciary by installing a rubber stamp head who will help legitimize the outcome of a suspected grand rigging plan of the ruling party, through judicial pronouncements.
While it is premature to go into merits or otherwise of the six count charges bothering on failure to declare certain assets ,proffered against Justice Onoghen, until the outcome of judicial adjudication, it can be safe to conclude, going by the antecedents of the current administration, that this recent event is not an indication of an effort to sanitize the Judiciary but actually an effort to intimidate out of office an independent minded jurist to pave way for the installation of a more pliant fellow who will serve both partisan and regime interest of the Buhari administration. Like Governor Abdullahi Ganduje whose hand was caught in the cookie jar stuffing bales of dollars into his customized ‘’fit for purpose pockets’’, all that is required of Justice Onoghen was for him to sacrifice the independence of the judiciary to serve regime interest in a feat of blind loyalty to President Buhari and he will equally turn a blind eye to his alleged corrupt engagements.
The outrage that greeted this latest ugly incidence of executive terrorism against the judiciary is simply because the current administrations selective war on corruption, which appears to only target individuals opposed to Buhari’s misrule. The scourge of corruption in Nigeria has grown in monstrosity because Buhari’s selective war on corruption or corrupt war on corruption has deepened the roots of the problem with its branches spreading out wide in vicious perpetuity. The question of whether Justice Onoghen committed an infraction or not pales into insignificance in the face of the double standards of the Buhari administration in its selective application of the law.The matter for interrogation in this instance is apparent use of the anti-corruption rhetoric to blackmail, hound and punish individuals into submitting to whims and caprices of the Buhari administration in its effort to maintain a fascist hold on power.