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May 21, 2018

Looters list, a welcome idea but…

The police have recovered the mace that was stolen from the Senate chambers in Abuja on Wednesday by some thugs.
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Any plan to name and shame all those who have brought Nigerians to their current level of poverty is a welcome idea. But a better plan is one which not only names the thieves but reclaims the loot and punishes the looters, to serve as a deterrent to others.

Nigerians have heard so much about “how” their money was looted and actually is being looted, and “who and who” are looting it, but it makes no sense just to publish the names of a few. What is needed is a comprehensive list of looters, without respect for party affiliation, social status, ethno – religious connection or relationship with the powers that be. The list should be followed up with the appropriate disciplinary measures. Only then, can we echo the words of William Shakespeare, ‘a Daniel has come to Judgment!’ (merchant of Venice).

The release of a one-sided list of looters, comprising mainly members of the opposition and those who have challenged President Muhammadu Buhari in the ongoing killings by Fulani herdsmen or have asked him not to seek re-election in 2019, makes a mockery of the fight against corruption .It makes the entire exercise a mindless, political witch-hunt.

We commend the Federal Government for daring to publish anything at all that should make any looter feel angry or embarrassed. Before now, it has always been hearsay; no Government had dared to make names of supposed thieves public.

Although coming at an arguably wrong time and targeting mainly anti-Buhari and PDP looters, to many Nigerians this is the time for the Federal Government to call a spade a spade in its fight against corruption. Naming and shaming the looters is surely one of the ways of waging an anti-corruption war, knowing, however, that the list is only a tip of the iceberg.

In civilized countries, stealing public money is a serious offence, punishable in some countries with death. But we live in a country where we only make noise about corruption, slap offenders in the wrist, if at all, and let them go while the country keeps bleeding. When you look at the figures being stolen, and stashed away in foreign bank accounts you begin to wonder whether these Nigerians have consciences.

The perpetrators have committed a crime against citizens of this country and should be brought to face the full wrath of the law.

Looters are criminals and should be arrested, tried and if convicted jailed. But here, we even find our legal system protecting them and courts adjourning cases indefinitely to help them.

Nigerians voted for President Buhari in 2015 primarily because of his stand on corruption and promise to fight the greedy men and women who emptied our treasury. These are persons who were entrusted with the job of building our nation but who ended up looting our economy.

It is a crime against the nation and should be punished, not just by publishing their names. Some people are shameless and mere publishing of their names neither bothers them nor puts food on the tables of millions of those people they have impoverished.  The money they allegedly looted must be recovered.

We should all remember that Transparency International ranked Nigeria the 148th World’s Least Corrupt County’ last year, out of 180 nations, surveyed. This poor showing suggests that the country has yet to make any significant gains in fighting corruption. Buhari and his team must, therefore, do more.

Looting is not a one party’s affair. It is not a PDP or APC only affair. Knowing that APC today was PDP yesterday and both are Nigerians, this is the time to fight corruption to the finish no matter who is involved.



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