A frontline pro-transparency Non-Governmental organization - HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA ) has lambasted the minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed for promoting the culture of crass impunity and lack of transparency by demanding for a loan of N13.12 million from NBC- an agency under his purview to fund his China trip.
In a statement signed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf HURIWA demanded the immediate dismissal from the Federal Cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari of Alhaji Lai Mohammed for abusing his official privilege.
Describing the minister's action as a subtke attempt at blackmail and a sinister plot to seek to extort N13 million from one of the agencies under his ministerial supervision, the Rights group affirmed that the action is absolutely against President Muhammadu Buhari’s current anti -graft disposition which is signposted in the bringing into being of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
HURIWA urged President Muhammadu Buhari to remember his constitutional oath of office not to allow political consideration to override public interest by dismissing immediately the Information minister who has publicly accepted authorship of that loan request letter that resembles the type used by the notorious 'YAHOOYAHOO BOYS'.
"Mr President must see this as a litmus test of his avowed commitment not to tolerate impunity and lawlessness from even his closest political friends".
Besides, HURIWA has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of priority ensure that the staff of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) are protected from the ongoing witchhunt exercise ordered by the information minister who is angry that his illegal letter requesting for a loan was leaked on social media.
"As an administration which has shown through different local and international platforms that it is primarily passionate towards eradicating economic crimes and corruption, it is imperative that everything is done to protect the whistle blowers without whom this heinous illegality of obtaining loan through false pretence by the Information minister would have become a fait accompli."
HURIWA recalled that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said a letter he endorsed requesting for a loan from National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to cover travelling expenses of a delegation to China was in order.
The position of the minister was contained in a statement issued on Saturday in Abuja by Mr. Peter Dama, the Director, Public Relations and Protocol in the Ministry.
But HURIWA dismissed the defence put up by the Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed as an afterthought which was poorly manufactured to confuse and deceive some gullible Nigerians just as the Rights group said it was wrong -headed for any minister to seek for a loan from a government agency that is not licenced to operate as a commercial financial institution.
"What this clever-by-half explanation for the letter demanding for loan of whooping N13.12million by the supervising minister to an agency under him has demonstrated is a total ignorance of extant civil and public service rules and the ethical codes of conduct".
HURIWA stated further thus: "should a Supervisor descend to the arena to illegally coerce through subterfuge an agency under his purview to take a loan when in actual fact this Federal government said all revenues made by agencies are to be paid into the Treasury Single Account and domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria? Did President Muhammadu Buhari through the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank of Nigeria upgrade the National Broadcasting Commisdion into a lending institution far away from the statutory mandate for which it was set up in the first instance?
Calling for the sack of the minister the Rights group stated that: " The most honourable thing for the Information minister to do under the circumstance is to resign forthwith or be dismissed forthwith by President Muhammadu Buhari to save his administration from the unmitigated opprobrium of harbouring Cabinet level officials who go about using official cover to obtain loans through all kinds of pretences that are out of place in this era of economic recession."
Similarly, HURIWA has commended the professional manner that the Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN) has so far shown in ensuring that due process is abided by in the anti graft campaign.
HURIWA has therefore identified the Justice minister as a reliable and dependable anti-corruption crusader going by available body of evidence so far.
The group said that the Justice Minister must be commended for assembling some of the finest and committed anti graft crusaders as his advisers just as the Rights group said the various bodies and initiatives put in place to fast track high profile anti corruption prosecutions and counter terrorism prosecutions are good demonstrations that the holder of the office of Federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice under President Muhammadu Buhari now is a thoroughbred professional who from available pragmatic evidence for the time being is impressive and should be encouraged.