Chairman, House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, Honourable Gambo Musa Dan-Musa, represents Safana/Dan-Musa/Batsari Federal Constituency of Katsina State. In this interview with journalists, including LEADERSHIP SUNDAY’s RUTH CHOJI, he holds that Nigeria’s muslims are not supporting the Boko Haram. He also states that his committee will thoroughly investigate and make its submission to the House on the Hon. Farouk’s corruption allegations
As chairman, House Committee on Ethics and Privileges, you are saddled with the problems of investigating and coming up with recommendations to the House on the Hon. Farouk Lawan’s corruption allegations. What is the committee doing about it?
What is called a referral has already been done. What we intend to do is investigate the matter. We are starting with a meeting of the committee itself, which is going to be a preparatory meeting.
From there, we will decide the modus operandi of what we are going to do. But what we want to assure people is that we want to do justice and ensure that our work is done properly.
Does the committee sanction or punish erring members?
Yes, but no. The committee only has the responsibility to investigate and make a recommendation. When it makes a recommendation, it submits to the House and the House now decides what to do with the recommendation. In the meantime, we are going to sit and investigate, and we are going to recommend.
You are a rookie legislator and Farouk Lawan has been here since 1999 and he is called Mr. Integrity. With the current situation, how would you rate him, especially as your committee has been saddled with this responsibility?
We have handled something like that before. But this is the first time we are handling something of this nature. I will not be in a position to answer your question by telling you whether Farouk has integrity or not, because that decision should not be reached by now.
Another thing is that, it does not matter that I’m new in this game and that Farouk has been here for a long time; they know whom they have chosen to handle this ethics and privileges committee.
If I do not have experience in the House, I have experience outside the House. We should be able, with the guidance of God and with the contribution of the members, handle this case and handle it well.
But would the House return Farouk to his position after the investigations?
I will not be able to conclude on that; it will depend on what we see and recommend, and how the House will see reason with it.
The issue of corruption is not peculiar to the House; almost every sector in Nigeria is riddled with corruption, what can be done to tackle this monster?
Let me start by saying that corruption in Nigeria is endemic. It is all over the world, but it is not an excuse that because it is happening everywhere in the world, Nigerians must be corrupt. The corruption in Nigeria is unbelievable; it is so enormous that one begins to wonder when we can deal with it finally.
So many methods have been applied in Nigeria and they have failed. In my view, they have failed because those responsible for formulating strategies to deal with corruption are also involved in the corruption themselves.
It is like the bigamy law in Nigeria, you go and commit bigamy but you cannot be prosecuted, even if you are prosecuted, the judge sitting on your case may also equally be guilty of bigamy.
Therefore, it is something that needs real commitment from legislators, executives, judiciary and Nigerians themselves.What I mean is that people who are in position cannot exonerate themselves from corruption, and unless they do that, this nation will continue to have problems of corruption.
The second thing we need to do is to ensure that when somebody is caught, that person is one way or the other punished. It will be a deterrent to others. I don’t think that has been happening on a scale that will deter people.
Is there any place in the law that gives room for plea bargain because most officials caught in the act of corruption use that to frustrate their case?
I believe that, there is. The plea bargain is not applied properly in Nigeria. We do plea bargain here to satisfy ones interest or the other. Let me tell you that if we continue doing that, we are not in position to follow the rules that accompany plea bargain because of the level of selfishness and self-interest involved.
Nigeria has witnessed several probes which have all been swept under the carpet. With the current scandal, what are the chances that the government will implement the report?
I believe that government will do justice to it. My reason is that, the President himself is emphasizing that he will do justice to that report, and I want to plead with him because this is what the entire nation is looking forward to in spite of negative comments that came up with the reports.
The entire legislature has agreed that the work that was carried out by the committee was an excellent work and it is going to help Nigerians to sanitizes the oil sector. If they are able to sanitize the sector, they would have covered over 30 per cent of corruption in the nation.
Going back to state of the nation, are you worried about the spate of insurgency in the nation?
Of course, one is worried about what is happening, but the confusion is that, something that started as Boko Haram has degenerated to something else. It is no longer Boko Haram, in the sense that people are doing it to make money. If people are not doing it to make money, you will not see people from other faith participating.
For example, Boko Haram started as a sect of Muslims. It is hated by Muslims anyway. And because they knew that, they started killing the Muslims that are proper Muslims; because the proper Muslims don’t deal with them in anyway. They believe that they are not serving Allah Himself.
I gave you example of the Imam in Kano who was killed by the sect because he was telling them, they are not Muslims; because how can a Muslim say, “anything Western is haram” when they will use microphone to talk to people, they will use cars to travel, even the food they eat sometimes is Western.
They listen to radio, and yet, they prohibit anything Western. All these things are Western. So, the Imam said he believed they must have an agenda and that was why he was killed.
Many other clerics like that have been eliminated by the Boko Haram. They resorted to suicide, perhaps for two reasons. One, either they have sponsors, or two, maybe because they were not happy with the way their leader was killed. But now, it is much more than Boko Haram.
For example, the one that was arrested in Kaduna, that was shouting that “there is bomb which will blow” and it blew off while he was not affected and was arrested. This man was from Akwa Ibom. The recent one in Kaduna where one of them was arrested and it was discovered that he was an Igbo man from Anambra State.
Then, there is the other one in Kaduna that ran into Government House. He? was a deputy director in the services of Kaduna State Government. So, the thing has escalated to the point that some people somewhere are trying to use the crises to protect themselves, to the detriment of others.
They are only using religion to perpetuate certain acts that will benefit them. In Kaduna, Christians and Muslims have been living in Kaduna for a very long time; nothing like that has ever happened until recent years. Government has a responsibility to check this madness; the three arms of government must do something quickly to get rid of the problem.
There are fears that if the killings continue, it will lead to a state of anarchy and even religious war, do you harbour such fears. How would you convince a Christian Northerner that Islam is not behind the terror attacks?
Well, I don’t have such fears. Many things have happened to Nigerian that could have destroyed this country and did not. Even when Ojukwu tried to separate Nigeria by creating his country, Biafra, he could not succeed because we believe that we need each other as a nation. Our differences have some advantages to us.
For example, in Lagos, in the same family, you will find that half are Muslim and half are Christians. Who will want to kill his brother or sister? As a Northerner and a Muslim, I will start with Kafanchan and other places where there have been crises between Christian and Muslim.
Because of economic reasons, some people went and instigated the Christians living in that place to begin to get rid of other people, during the time of Zamani Lekwot.
What we learnt was that these were the people who instigated their people to surround the Muslims on Friday while they were in the mosques and killed them. If they had prosecuted Zamani Lekwot that time, perhaps they might have been peace and we won’t have experienced subsequent crises.
Perpetuators of violence and its organisers must be adequately punished. Zamani Lekwot was released without being punished. In Shagamu, the crisis was for economic purpose, because the people felt that these strangers came and settled here and yet are making money while our people are not making much money.
In Kano for instance, a Muslim man was trying to close his shop when some thugs who were also Hausas came and beat him up, opened the shop and looted it even while he was shouting that he too was Hausa and a Muslim. This is to tell you that, most of the crises are caused by poverty.
Are you attributing the crisis now to poverty?
Is this poverty peculiar to the North alone?
That is why I said, politics and poverty. But poverty is more in the North than other parts of the country, because the North initially had power, but not economic power. This power has made so many people in the North to be lazy, while the South has gone too far in terms of education and economy.
That is my view anyway. The North became lazy when they got economic power, they will just go and get a note and will be given a contract and so on. Then this regime came and there was an agenda that the North must die. I cannot prove it anyway, but I have heard it from many people.
Look at it, our industries have been killed, they were denied raw materials they will use in the industries. As a result of that, many factories in Kano, Kaduna, Jos and the rest were closed down. That was the beginning of poverty for the North.
We see the importation of fuel as deliberate by some of us, because for many years, our factories have not been put in order. In fact, new ones ought to have been built, but that has not happened. Whenever the money was realized, some people will just sit on it.
What can be done to restore the North to its former glory?
That is a very difficult question because first of all, the crises have to be contained. If we are able to contain these crises, we will need to reinvigorate all these factories and companies that are completely dead. For instance, in Kano, there were about 200 factories that are now dead.
In Kaduna, all the textile factories are dead, except for those that are still wobbling. Jobs must be created, while schools are made compulsory for the youths. Government can do what it did in the Niger/Delta for the Northern people.