LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) — Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, advised recently elected President Muhammadu Buhari to go slowly on his anti-corruption drive so that the public would not term his actions as “persecution.”

He said that “the fight against corruption can only succeed where there is transparency, justice and honesty” during a dinner July 21 for the group Catholics in Politics at the Church of the Assumption in Abuja.

Fighting corruption goes beyond making a “few arrests here and there,” Cardinal Onaiyekan said in urging Buhari to carry out his anti-corruption campaign in a way that would not violate human rights or be seen as selective.


“This challenge, obviously, lies squarely on those who now have the power to rule our nation. I want to beg them to resist the temptation to rub the plagues of defeat on the losers and try to avoid policies of persecution, some even talk of execution of losers,” he said.

“We have to tackle dishonesty and I believe we need to retrieve stolen goods, especially those that are just piling up other people’s money. While we do that, it is my strong feeling that we should try to avoid as much as possible humiliating or disgracing people who may indeed have tried their best to serve the nation,” the cardinal continued.

The church leader suggested that prayers should be offered for the country’s newly elected officials so they may be given the grace to lead with wisdom and a clear mind.

“We must be clear-minded on this matter and not allow ourselves to be naive, thinking that it is just enough to make a few arrests here and there and the matter is settled. Let us pray that God will guide our nation,” he said.

Cardinal Onaiyekan also discussed the security challenges posed by Boko Haram insurgents in northeastern Nigeria. He suggested that Nigeria must go beyond arms and ammunition in order to reconcile minds and hearts for genuine peace.

“The problems of Nigeria can only be resolved if we all link hands across political, ethnic and religious lines,” he said.