Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had recently hinted on an impending release of another batch of alleged treasury looters. The minister said the yet to be released names would baffle the generality of Nigerians owing to the quantum of funds stolen by the personalities involved.
Mohammed, who spoke to newsmen in Ilorin recently, said the earlier list, where individuals alleged to have milked the nation’s resources were members of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was just a tip of the iceberg.
This indicated that the expected release would be mind boggling even when the earlier list indicated that only 23 persons in the PDP allegedly cornered $19.8 billion and N320 billion within a very short period of time.
Though some of those on the looters’ list have threatened court action, the minister had maintained that the government was in possession of verifiable evidences to defend itself in the court of law. Of all listed, the incumbent National Chairman of the PDP, Prince UchennaSecondus, had sued the government for defamation of character and it is hoped that the government would provide its convincing evidences in the court of law.
There are indications that the government may indeed be in possession of evidences as there were reports that some of those facing prosecution over corruption allegations may have opted for plea bargaining.
Some of them are said to have negotiated with the government to return their loots and be excused from the humiliation of having to be convicted. So, if government actually have this kind of evidence against those whose names appeared in the looters’ list, one would only imagine what manner of grandstanding those threatening to go to court for redress are engaging in.
Although the government has been accused of intimidating the opposition elements with its looters list which had only the PDP members, it is expected that the new release would have those who were in the opposition before the advent of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 and have now found refuge in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Some prominent members of the ruling party have been fingered in the sleaze that characterized the sixteen years rule of the PDP. Including in the new list those APC members who were charged for corrupt practices only to be left off the hook immediately they shift camp would further convince Nigerians that the government is actually altruistic in its fight against corruption and recovery of loots.
Beside the politicians, their collaborators in the civil service should not be equally spared. This is because politicians alone can not embezzle or misappropriate public funds without the connivance of the public servants.
The anti-graft agencies should also up its game by beaming its torch in the direction of certain government parastatals and services like the Nigerian Police and other para-military agencies. The corruption in these areas rivals the ones the politicians are being harangued for.
These agencies, especially the Police, have been constant sources of embarrassment to the country. Nigerian Police was rated the most corrupt in the world only recently.
Transparency International (TI), a global anti-corruption watchdog, had in its 2017 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released in February this year ranked Nigeria low. The latest ranking has Nigeria in the 148th position out of 180.
Beyond release of looters’ list and recovery of loots, those convicted of corruption should be treated as murderer because they kill the future of Nigerians each time they dipped their hands into the
commonwealth. Funds meant for infrastructure and developmental projects like roads but stolen helped killed those who died of accidents owing to bad roads.
In China, corrupt officials are treated like murderers. They are made to face severe consequences sometimes including death penalties.
As a deterrent in Nigeria, a Hall of Shame should be established where those found culpable in corrupt practices are exhibited.
Having a compendium, to be updated from time to time, where the faces of convicted looters and economic saboteurs are advertised with ban from holding public offices until they are purged of their malfeasances, after they may have served out their terms, will surely be effective in conbating corruption in the country.
This compendium should be distributed all over, including embassies and high commissions. With this treatment, those in position of authority are likely going to think twice before pilfering the nation’s resources.