SERAP faults FG’s looters’ list
Says it’ll weaken anti-corruption fight
A lagos-based rights group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has said looters’ list, released by Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, could only weaken government’s fight against graft.
Describing the list as clumsy, arbitrary and selective, it urged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to “immediately withdraw the looters’ list, saying, “It would seem to serve a political objective or at best carry out a political agenda.”
It said the action could only frustrate government’s goal of transparency and allow suspected perpetrators, irrespective of their political affiliations, to escape justice and ultimately, deny victims of corruption justice and effective remedies.
The Federal Government had at the weekend released a list of some of those who have allegedly looted the nation’s treasury. Curiously, the names on the list are mostly members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who are being tried for corruption and other financial crimes.
SERAP in a statement by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said: “The authorities should withdraw the looters’ list and come up with a comprehensive list as ordered by Justice Hadiza Shagari last year.
“Allowing the published list to stand will undermine the credibility of government’s claim to fight corruption and signal to Nigerians that it is not serious to satisfactorily address the allegations of corruption under the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan and involving those close to this government.”
It added that if President Buhari was truly interested in vindicating the rule of law and the proper administration of justice, his government would do well to obey Justice Shagari’s judgment ordering the authorities to tell Nigerians the full names of all suspected looters of the public treasury.
“For the government to impose this list on Nigerians, which would seem to serve as an expedient means to an end that disregard the orders of Justice Shagari is more than a violation of law; it is a breach of trust of the Nigerian people.
“ If disobedience of court orders becomes the norm, the ship of government would become anchorless and adrift in a sea of treacherous uncertainty that could lead to a beachhead in the land of tyranny”, the statement reads.
The Ministry of Information had last year published details of recoveries, which showed that the Nigerian government successfully retrieved N78 billion, $185 million, £3.5 million and €11, 250 between May 29, 2015 and May 25, 2016.It also disclosed recoveries under interim forfeiture, including cash and assets, during the same period amounting to N126 billion, $9 billion, £2,4 million and €303,399.
Anticipated repatriation from foreign countries amounted to $321 million, £6.9 million and €11,826. The ministry also announced that 239 non-cash recoveries were made during the period. The non-cash recoveries included farmlands, plots of land, buildings, vehicles and maritime vessels.Subsequently, SERAP issued a Freedom of Information (FOI) request and gave Muhammed 14 days within which to disclose the names of all suspected looters.
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