Mr. Ben Murray-Bruce the PDP senator from Bayelsa State has given his unbiased support for the President Mohammadu Buhari’s government anti-corruption war by debunking fellow aggrieved PDP members’ claim that it was one-sided.
Almost immediately, the common sense senator came under fire on social media on Tuesday for his comment that the Buhari administration’s war on corruption was not a “witch-hunt”.
The remark was interpreted by many as a contradiction of Mr. Murray-Bruce’s previous criticisms of the government.
The tweet, posted on Monday, said those accused of corruption should prove their innocence, and not claim that they were unjustly targeted.
“The admin’s anti-corruption war isn’t a witch hunt. In my opinion, we need it. If you’re innocent, prove your innocence. Don’t say witch hunt!” Mr. Murray-Bruce wrote.
The post earned Mr. Murray-Bruce immediate reprimand from social media users, with some accusing the lawmaker of hypocrisy, and citing some of his previous tweets.
Critics referred to Mr. Murray-Bruce’s tweet on June 22 that “the only business booming in Nigeria today is the business of arresting and detaining”.
Some recalled how Mr. Murray-Bruce repeatedly complained about the alleged overbearing influence of President Buhari on the activities of anti-graft agencies, and how he decided to initiate a bill to strip the executive arm of control over the ICPC and the EFCC.
The lawmaker had earlier this year proposed the “Independent Prosecutor Bill”, a legislation calling for “election and direct funding of an anti-corruption czar that the president and Senate can’t control”.
Commentators also expressed dismay at Mr. Murray-Bruce’s argument that those accused of corruption should prove their innocence, against the long-standing legal doctrine that the burden of proof rests on the accuser.
“How @benmurraybruce now subscribes to placing the onus of guilt on an accused in the fight against corruption, is all shades of perplexing,” Charles Ohia, a known supporter of Mr. Bruce, tweeted.
Other critics suggested that Mr. Murray-Bruce’s ongoing run in with the government over his companies’ failure to settle their debt might have contributed to his seeming soft-pedaling on the government.
“Nigeria has a ‘lie detector’ called EFCC and a ‘Truth Serum’ named AMCON. Ask Ben Bruce,” one user, Victor Asemota, tweeted on Tuesday.
Mr. Murray-Bruce’s Silverbird Group and its subsidiaries were seized by Assets Management Company of Nigeria last month after negotiations to get the companies to pay about N11 billion credit they obtained from Union Bank fell through.
Mr. Murray-Bruce could not be reached for comment for this story as his known telephone line was switched off.