Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), has told the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that he is not afraid of losing his job as the chairman of the advisory body.
Sagay and the APC leadership have been engaged in battle of words following his allegation that the party leadership was associating with alleged corrupt members.
In an exclusive interview with INDEPENDENT, Sagay who said he accepted the position from President Muhammadu Buhari because of his desire to serve the country and not for pecuniary gain, also said the John Odigie-Oyegun-led APC leadership is not comfortable with his utterances and actions because they felt threatened whenever he attacks corrupt politicians.
“I have responded to all these allegations by saying I am not a ‘come and chop’ politician. So, they cannot say I was done any particular service by being appointed to this position or to say I was brought out of obscurity into prominence.
“I accepted this position from President Buhari, a man I have tremendous respect for because I wish to serve, not because I have anything to gain. So, for anyone to say that the party, APC, got me there is totally wrong and pure rubbish. The party never got me there. The party was not in any way involved in my appointment.
“It was the president who directly appointed me. That was why I told the APC leadership led by John Odigie-Oyegun that I am not a ‘come and chop’ politician like them. So, the question of losing a position can never arise in my life.
“They are not happy with what I am saying or doing because they are very cozy with the corrupt members. They are encouraging them, aligning with them and enjoying a close relationship with them and they are pretending as if they don’t know that those people have done anything or they are a danger to the future of the party.
“That is why they are offended because definitely when I attacked those who are corrupt who the APC leadership is encouraging through their attitude, then indirectly, I am attacking them.”
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has said it will not use the criteria set by Sagay in dealing with its members.
Speaking to INDEPENDENT on the allegations made by Sagay that the party leadership is associating with and condoning alleged corrupt members, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said it will not deal with its members based on the recommendations of the professor.
Describing Sagay’s criticism as unfair, Abdullahi said since the PACAC boss had already stated in his interview that he is neither a politician nor a member of the APC, he will not be able to appreciate how the party deals with issues that have to do with politicians.
He added that the party can only take action against any corrupt member if a court of competent jurisdiction has pronounced a verdict on such a member.
According to Abdullahi, “The statement credited to Prof. Sagay accusing the party leadership of being weak and conniving with corrupt politicians to a relatively large extent is unfair. Prof. Sagay by his own admission said he is not a politician.
“If he is not a politician, that means he will not be able to appreciate happenings within the political dynamics. He has a different consideration from the considerations that we have as managers of the party. The responsibility that he has as an adviser to the president on anti-corruption is different from the responsibility we have to build our party and hold it together.
“He, on his part, wants us to exclude the people he has labeled as corrupt from the party, but the responsibility we have is to hold the party together. Until a law court has pronounced someone guilty of a crime, we don’t have the duty to label anyone as corrupt.
“I will be surprised if what Prof. Sagay is suggesting that the moment he, as chairman of PACAC, labels someone as corrupt, then the party should accept that pronouncement as a universal definition of that individual and severe relationship with that person. I don’t think that will be appropriate and that does not fall in line with our responsibility as a political party".