Prominent officials disgraced, booted out of office under Buhari

AS PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari winds up activities for his exit from office on May 29, many of his appointees are preparing to bow out with him.

While those quitting with the president are leaving ceremoniously, there are some others he appointed but he booted out of office for various infractions.

The ICIR reports that many of those leaving with Buhari on May 29 started with him in 2015 when he took the oath of office. 

Buhari is known for making his appointees keep their portfolios for as long as he wishes. 


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There are appointees with expired constitutionally-fixed terms that the President allowed to continue in office after their terms expired. Such beneficiaries include the current Comptroller-General of Immigration, Isah Jere Idris, whose tenure the president has extended twice

Though the magnanimity conflicts with the constitution and succession processes in the affected institutions, the president has repeatedly appeared unfazed. 

Buhari rode into office on his rhetoric of tackling corruption, ending insecurity, and improving the economy to win the 2015 presidential election. 

His assumption of office awakened hope for moral rectitude in a nation floundering under high-scale corruption, especially among public officeholders.

The memory of how he dealt with public fund looters and other offenders during his days as military Head of State sent shivers down the spine of hardened plunderers of the commonwealth and other criminals.

But the fear soon tapered as many could not pinpoint clear differences between him and his predecessors in fighting corruption. Buhari’s indifference saw many of his officials sinking neck-deep in sleaze – and the president was compelled to kick them out of office dishonourably, albeit after much public outcry.

How the mighty fell in Buhari’s government

Babachir Lawal – former SGF

The first corruption victim in the Buhari government was the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.

He was enmeshed in a N544 million naira grass-cutting scandal.

After much pressure from the public, who felt the accusation was too huge for a government that promised to fight corruption decisively, Buhari relieved Lawal of his office and appointed the current SGF Boss Mustapha as his replacement.

But the court eventually acquitted and discharged him.

Kemi Adeosun – former Minister of Finance 

In 2018, the former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, was found to have tendered a forged exemption certificate of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) alongside other documents to the Directorate of State Services and the Senate for her clearance as a minister in 2015.

After much heat from fuming Nigerians, she resigned in but insisted she did not know the certificate was fake.

Ibrahim Magu – former EFCC boss

The former chairman of the country’s foremost anti-corruption agency – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) – was suspended by Buhari after he was accused of corruption.

Ibrahim Magu
File photo: Ibrahim Magu

Magu, a senior police officer, led the commission from November 9, 2015, to July 7, 2020. On July 6, he was arrested and detained before being charged in court.

Among the allegations against him is that he pocketed part of the money the EFCC realised from the sale of forfeited assets of corrupt Nigerians.

Ahmed Idris – former Accountant-General of the Federation 

In May 2022, the Buhari government suspended former Accountant-General of the Federation Ahmed Idris over his alleged involvement in an N80 billion fraud.

Another N90 billion he allegedly stole was uncovered days after the first discovery, bringing the amount he allegedly stole to N170 billion.

Idris was charged to court, where he sought a plea bargain

Usman Yusuf – Former NHIS Executive Secretary

Buhari fired the former Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (now the National Health Insurance Authority), Usman Yusuf, in July 2019.

Yusuf was in a raging war with the former Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, and the NHIS Governing Board, headed by Enantu Ifenna, who accused him of high-handedness, insubordination, fraud and other infractions.

Usman Yusuf
Former Executive Secretary of the NHIA, Usman Yusuf

In 2017, the minister suspended him, and the board suspended him indefinitely in 2018 after reviewing his actions and finding them questionable.

While acting as president in 2017, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo ordered Yusuf’s probe. The investigation was on till February 2018 when President Buhari reinstated the embattled official after Buhari returned to Nigeria from the United Kingdom, where he spent weeks for treatment.

Since he was booted out of office, Yusuf has become a leading voice among people opposing the Buhari government’s handling of the nation’s security.

Bala Usman, former Managing Director, Nigeria Ports Authority

In 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the suspension of the managing director of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) Bala Usman.

The reasons where  not clearly known, but it was clear she had a confrontation with the leadership of her parent ministry, the Ministry of Transportation, headed by former minister Rotimi Amaechi.

Buhari first appointed Usman as the NPA managing director in 2016, and the president renewed her tenure before approving her suspension in May 2021.

Sabo Nanono and Sale Mamman – former Agriculture and Power ministers

On September 1, 2021, the president sacked two ministers in his first and only cabinet reshuffle for eight years. They were the ministers for Agriculture and Rural Development Mohammed Sabo Nanono, and that of Power Sale Mamman.

The sack was part of efforts to “identify and strengthen weak areas, close gaps, build cohesion and synergy in governance, manage the economy, and improve the delivery of public good to Nigerians,” according to a statement signed by the Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

Saleh Mamman
Saleh Mamman, former Minister-of-Power.
Credit: the whistler.ng

The ICIR reports that the power crisis that led to Mamman’s sack has worsened as the country rationed the available 4000 megawatts in the first week of May 2023, making communities and businesses continue to depend on other power sources.

To worsen his woes, the EFCC arrested and detained him on Wednesday, May 10, over an alleged N22 billion fraud uncovered in some power projects executed by his ministry across the country while he was a minister. He headed the Power ministry between 2019 and 2021.

Nanono was fired for “reversing the gains made in agriculture between 2015 and 2019.”

Under his watch, food prices skyrocketed, leading to worsening cases of hunger and malnutrition.

But The ICIR reports that the blame was not entirely his. Buoyed by a poorly-managed economy, inflation shot food prices up during his time in office. Farmers could not go to farms in several states because of rising insecurity. 

Ismail Adewusi – former Post-Master General

President Buhari sacked the former Post-Master General of the Federation, Bisi Adegbuyi, in December 2019 and appointed Ismail Adewusi, a doctorate degree holder, as his replacement.

The president kicked Adewusi out in September 2022 over alleged muscle-flexing with NIPOST’s governing board and top government officials on stamp duty.

Under his watch, NIPOST was at war with the Federal Internal Revenue Service (FIRS) over who should collect stamp duty. 

Saratu Umar – former Executive Secretary, NIPC 

After barely nine months in office, President Buhari fired the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Saratu Umar.

The president appointed her in July 2022 and sacked her in April 2023.

Umar has, therefore, been dismissed from the commission twice as executive secretary.

President Goodluck Jonathan first appointed her for a five-year term in 2014. The former leader sacked her the following year over allegations of ineptitude and gross incompetence.

Buhari sacked her for the same allegations.

Walter Onnoghen – former Chief Justice of Nigeria,

Shortly before the presidential and other elections in 2019, President Buhari approved the suspension of former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen and appointed  Tanko Mohammed as the acting CJN.






     

     

    Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen. Credit: file photo

    Vice President Yemi Osinbajo swore Onnoghen in as the substantive CJN while Buhari was receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment in the United Kingdom in 2017.

    The Buhari government eventually suspended Onnoghen over allegations of corruption and non-declaration of assets, leading to his untimely but ‘voluntary’ retirement.

    Despite Buhari’s anti-corruption mantra, The ICIR reported how the country dropped further in the global corruption ranking. 

    In 2019, the president admitted fighting corruption was challenging in a country like Nigeria.

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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