Speaking in an interview with Daily Sun on Sunday in Lagos, former archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos said appealing to the conscience of the alleged treasury looters would produce a better result.
The cleric also spoke on the growing number of fake pastors in the country, blaming the trend on the licensing of churches and mosques by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Baring his mind on whether the president was capable of tackling corruption, the cardinal stated that since fighting corruption topped Buhari’s agenda, it was a mission he must embark on without delay.
“That is why he is there. He said it loud and clear at his inauguration, that the very first thing he’s going to tackle was corruption. And everybody clapped for him. And it is something he has to do immediately,” he said.
Okogie, however, dismissed the option of probe and limiting the process to former President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure.
His words: “You see these five fingers, if you point one to that person there, look at the position of the other four, who are they pointing at? Me. That’s my answer for you.
“I prefer something private and personal. Call these people; they have consciences like human beings, they’re Nigerians. Even, look at the way they’re dropping money. I read in the papers – you journalists are feeding us with the information – one person went and privately dropped over $1 billion. Not even naira. So, you call such a man, talk to him.”
The cardinal, however came down hard on treasury looters, saying: “One day, you will die. I will die. We will leave all these things behind. Look at people suffering. What is the use of your money?
“In any case, I mean, let him (Buhari) adopt a personal touch. If you come to me and say, ‘Bishop, you annoyed me,’ I will say, ‘where? Okay, sorry. You appeal. This is the kind of thing I will expect. But if you start saying you’re probing this, you may not even get the money until you leave. Even, after him too, you may not get it.
“How many cases have we seen in court? They’re still there. I’m not trying to blame the judiciary. But, we all know what is happening in the judiciary. It seems we’re wasting time.”
On the increasing number of fake churches, the cardinal said: “People are blaming CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria); look at all the religious associations we have, the number of churches we have, what is happening? And yet, we still have corruption right, left and centre,” he lamented.
“We went to CAC, and I said: See, you have no right to be licensing churches. It’s not your business. Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.
“We have CAN, the Moslems have their own. Why not send anyone who says he wants to establish a church, to that association belonging to the Christians or if he is a Moslem, send him to the association belonging to the Moslems.
“They will be able to find out whether they are genuine of not. But, once you’re licensed by the corporate affairs, then it means it is for business. You can do anything you like. And that is why we have a lot of fake pastors and all what not going around today. And they will keep multiplying.”
By Jet Stanley Madu