‘Buhari’s silence on Pandora Papers revelation is worrisome’
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) said the silence of Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari over the Pandora Papers scandal is worrisome, saying it casts aspersions on the government’s stance on the fight against corruption.
Addressing newsmen on Monday in Abuja, Executive Director, CISLAC and Transparency International, Nigeria, Auwal Rafsanjani, said the Buhari government must take urgent steps in investigating every Nigeria leader indicted in the Pandora Papers report irrespective of the political affiliation of the individuals.
The Pandora Papers investigation involved a cross-border investigative journalism report on alleged corrupt practices by world leaders.
In the major scandal, the influential citizens were accused of flouting “extant laws and legislations as they hid assets.
According to Rafsanjani, the report laid credence to the continuing weaknesses in the Nigerian financial systems and regulatory deficiencies which he said have been at the root of the annual loss of $18billion to illicit financial flows out of Nigeria.
Noting that all eyes were on the government to take appropriate action, the CISLAC boss said the president must ensure that the exposures do not go the way of the previous leaks – Paradise and Panama Papers, which were released in 2017 and 2016, respectively.
He said, unlike other countries, the Nigerian government has neither instituted investigations nor shown any willingness to dismiss public officers and politically exposed persons exposed in the reports.
“We all know that if government has been taking necessary steps we won’t be loosing this huge amount of money but because the system is so loose and no effort has been put in place to block these leakages, we will continue to loose such amount of money,” Rafsanjani said.
“One would like to ask that why should the Central Bank with all the regulatory policies and framework allow this kind of huge money diversion out of Nigeria?”
Continuing, he added, “there seems to be lack of understanding of what corruption is in this government. These revelations have attracted global attention and had made countries like United States, Canada took decisive actions against their nationals who were involved in the scandal but ours here were being awarded with government positions.
“In fact, we have seen cases where people who are facing criminal charges decamped to the ruling party and were seen taking photograph with the person leading the fight against corruption.
“The Pandora papers release is coming when Nigeria is reeling under the deleterious impact of the COVID-19 and the debt pileup that has continued to stoke serious concerns across political divides and among Nigerians and its development partners.
“Therefore, it is a meaningful opportunity for the Buhari administration to act decisively against corruption, aggressive tax planning, and other financial practices of politically exposed persons and their advisors and companies that threaten our country’s economic stability and corporate existence.”