The destiny of stolen funds
With the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) bursting a staggering sum of $9.7 million and £74,000 at Sabon Tarsha, in Kaduna to the discovery of €547,730, £21,090 and N5, 648, 500 at the popular Balogun market in Lagos and the latest uncovering of another $23 million, £27, 000 and N23 million at a luxury apartment building in Ikoyi, Lagos, it is obvious that looters are under fire. These dramatic turn of events show the evolution of corruption in Nigeria. There is outrage in the land and the rest of the world is not surprised.
If the tempo continues under the whistle blower strategy introduced by the Buhari administration, there may be no hiding place for the thieves in our midst who occupy exalted positions in the corridors of power.
The EFCC has a lot of job to do. One thing is to uncover the funds but another thing is to diligently prosecute the culprits. A situation where the owners of uncovered funds are not traceable as no one owns up including the building where the money is found is ridiculous.
Can an anonymous individual just wake up and erect a multi-storey building in a city without documentation of who is the owner? What has happened to the Ministry of Urban Planning and Development? Is it not doing its job? Don’t they have records of who owns which building in the cities?
The crux of this comment is not whether or not the ministry is doing its job or whether or not the EFCC is able to prosecute the culprits. My concern here is what happens to any stolen funds at the end whether or not it is discovered. What hope is there on looted funds? Can a future be built on it? Can the generations of looters inherit the stolen funds and progress with it?
Ordinarily, there is the tendency for people to feel jealous of those who have looted public funds by virtue of their official position. Some people may be carried away by their ostentatious lifestyle in big cars, big mansions, chains of asset and investments, etc.
The gullible is tempted to conclude that all is well with the thieves, when in fact they are merely flourishing on vanity, as their days are numbered. Truth is that the thought of those who have looted public funds and appear to have recorded what looks like success shouldn’t haunt anybody.
The thieves and those around them tend to misunderstand the transient nature of stolen wealth. They are ignorant of the fact that stolen wealth hardly succeeds the next generation. Stolen wealth dies with the thief.
Wealth gotten by vanity diminishes over time. Sometimes, the thief may be alive to see the havoc he or she may have done to him or herself by amassing ill-gotten wealth. Usually, the wealth develops wings and disappears, leaving the thief and his generations in miserable state. You may ask how wealth develops wings. Money has wings and flies in various ways.
One example was the collapse of the stock market in the wake of the global economic recession of 2008 that swallowed billions in investment. Later, the liquidation of some banks exposed the dirty deals in which some corrupt bank executives turned depositors’ funds into private investments in the “booming” stock market that turned out to be bubble. What has happened to those billions invested and their projected turnover after the bubble burst? Everything went down the drain.
Those who stole billions to invest in stocks, hoping for a solid financial future for themselves and their families lost out completely. Some ended up in indebtedness. Some are being prosecuted. Their lives would never be the same again after going through the ordeal. Sometimes, there may be nobody to inherit the ill-gotten wealth and some other people take it over. No human has power over all things.
There are other ways ill-gotten wealth could develop wings and vanish. Natural disasters – floods, windstorms, building collapse, unexplained inferno, etc – wreak havoc from time to time and upturn people’s destinies. It doesn’t mean that these occurrences affect only bad people but many times, the bad people whose ill-gotten investments or assets sink in the disasters bear the trauma most.
In view of the foregoing, it is pertinent to ask how long does stolen wealth last. Can stolen wealth be passed on from one generation to another? Wealth acquired in the right way is guaranteed and could stand as dependable security for inheritance by the descendants of a good man. But wealth acquired through crooked means cannot pass the same test.
While honest wealth could pass from one generation to the other, stolen wealth does not fit into the eternal schema for wealth acquisition and retention. Stolen wealth is not covered under the eternal law of wealth. If stolen wealth does not last or passed from one generation to the other, what then compels some people to amass stolen wealth that evaporates no sooner than they die? The answer is ignorance of the truth.
All wealth and riches emanate from one source – the Creator, who in turn gives man power to hold in trust for him all the wealth and riches in creation. What that means is that no one can hold in trust what is not rightfully given to him. If you do that, the thing cannot work because it is in the wrong hands. Anything that one takes upon himself by force or unjustly cannot work.
That partly explains why our political system is not working because leaders are stealing the people’s mandate to hold political office. It is not working and won’t work until we do the right thing by letting the rightful people elected to be leaders.
Moses (1593 B.C.), judge, commander and historian of Israel wrote that God visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate him, Exodus 20: 5. This is where fathers should be careful of what they do in order not to bring generational curses upon their children and their generations.
How many thieves have actually left their stolen wealth as inheritance for their children, talk less their children’s children? Somehow, those expending their energy today amassing ill-gotten wealth are not wise. They get into that folly and ruin their future rather than building it.