Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed exploded a political bombshell on Friday, March 30, 2018 when he released a list containing six names who he said were looters of the public till under PDP rule. The list contained names, the amounts involved, the date the amount in question was collected and from where it was taken.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman Uche Secondus, who was on Alhaji Lai’s list, gave the minister 48 hours to withdraw it and tender an apology. But Alhaji Lai said in Lagos that the list was strategically released as a teaser. He then released a second list on Sunday April 1, 2018 which had 23 names on it including former Minister of Aviation Femi Fani Kayode; former Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke and former National Security Adviser Colonel Sambo Dasuki.
Also on the list were three serving senators, Stella Oduah (Anambra), Jonah Jang (Plateau) and Peter Nwaboishi (Delta). Others who made the list include two former Chiefs of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah and Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika; former Chief of Defense Staff Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh; Air Marshal Adesola Amosun; former FCT Minister Bala Mohammed; former Governor of Niger State Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu; former Minister of State for Finance Bashir Yuguda and former Governor of Oyo State Rasheed Ladoja. Chief Tom Ikimi; former Finance Minister Nenadi Usman; former PPS to President Goodluck Jonathan Alhaji Hassan Tukur; former federal permanent secretary Godknows Igali; Aliyu Usman and Ahmad Idris who were former aides to Colonel Sambo Dasuki; Benedict Iroha and Aliyu Usman Jawaz, a close ally of Colonel Sambo Dasuki also made the list.
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Alhaji Lai Mohammed said, “What was the PDP expecting when it challenged the federal government to name the looters of public treasury under the party’s watch? Did PDP believe that the massive looting under its watch was a joke? Did they
think it is April fool?” He said PDP’s reaction to the looters’ list showed that its recent apology is an election-induced act, contrived to deceive unsuspecting Nigerians to vote for the party in 2019 general elections even when it has not come clean on its looting spree during its tenure in office.
PDP quickly responded with its own list of 50 APC chieftains that it termed treasury looters. It included Rotimi Amaechi, Timipre Sylva, Bukola Saraki, Sullivan Chime, Orji Kalu, Chris Ngige, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Abdullahi Adamu, Abubakar Moh’d, Gov. Simon Lalong, Sen. Andy Ubah, Sen. Magnus Abe, Engr. Dakuku Peterside, Mal. Nuhu Ribadu, Adm. Murtala Nyako and ex-governor George Akume, among others.
This exchange of so-called looters’ lists was unnecessary and it caused undue tension in Nigeria last week. Despite PDP’s grandstanding, government should not have risen to the bait. To name as looters people who are either standing trial in court or are still under investigation is not at all proper under the law. We also urge Alhaji Lai Mohammed to control his partisan political instincts and learn to differentiate between his current job and his former job as party publicity secretary.
The activities of government should be his current concern while he should leave exchange of political brickbats to APC’s publicity secretary. The task of naming and shaming alleged treasury looters should have been left to spokespersons of political parties to bicker over while a minister stays on the high road of legality and propriety.
If these yet to be convicted persons were being tried by jury, they could well have used Alhaji Lai’s list to argue in court that they would not get a fair trial because of government’s prejudicial acts. In the long run, the important thing is not grand standing and exchange of looters’ lists through the media. What is expected of government in the fight against corruption is to painstakingly collect information, charge the suspects to court, diligently prosecute the cases and secure as many convictions as possible. After that there will no arguments as to whether or not some people looted the treasury.
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