NAN Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue says the state does not own any militia group. Ortom was reacting to rumour making the rounds in some quarters in the country that the state government owned a militia group. The governor spoke on Thursday, January 18, in Makurdi, when the Benue Youth Prayer Group and National Union…
The present administration’s anti-corruption war, no matter its flaws, has been able to establish the high level of corruption in the land. It has shown how far some Nigerians can go to conceal their loot. It has also shown how wicked some Nigerians can be by taking what belongs to all of us and stash them away for the benefit of their children and unborn generation. Corruption is not only endemic in the country, it walks on the streets. It is alive and energetic and can equally fight back.
But the ongoing war against corruption may lose its tempo if certain things are not done right. The anti-corruption agency must guard against anything that will taint its image in the eyes of the public. It must guard against anything that will derail the anti-graft crusade.
Having said this, it is surprising that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that has regaled Nigerians with the names of corrupt Nigerian politicians and promptly named owners of the hitherto recovered loot is now foot-dragging over naming the owners of Ikoyi, Lagos apartment loot and others recently announced by it. Good enough, distraught Nigerians have never ceased asking pertinent questions on the anonymity of the real owners of the newly recovered loot. One pertinent question, which Nigerians are asking the EFCC, which requires an honest answer, is: Who owns the $43 million, and other cash discovered in an apartment on Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, Lagos and other cash discovered at Kaduna airport, Balogun market and others?
Nigerians believe that the EFCC is in a better position to answer the question. It is indeed its duty to reveal the owner or owners of the loot without being asked to do so. The answer to that question does not necessarily require setting up a panel of inquiry as the president has done.
Of all the recent loot hauls, the one that has generated much heat is the Ikoyi loot because of the controversy over its ownership. While the ownership of the Ikoyi loot is trailed by multiple claimants of ownership and narrative twists, nobody has claimed ownership of the loot discovered at Kaduna airport, Balogun market and others.
The Ikoyi cash discovery episode witnessed high drama, when Nigerians were fed with the news that the money belonged to National Intelligence Agency (NIA). This claim did not go down well with most Nigerians, who are not satisfied with the way the anti-corruption agency is handling the Ikoyi loot. This revelation was followed by many unanswered questions on who owns the Ikoyi loot. Some Nigerians are of the view that the anti-graft agency is seemingly economical with the truth about the true owner of the Ikoyi loot.
They feel that something is being hidden from them. They believe that wool is being pulled over their eyes in broad daylight. They smell rat in the unfolding drama. The unnecessary drama over the Ikoyi cash discovery may taint the whistle-blower policy and the government’s avowed anti-corruption war. Members of the opposition see the war as sectional and political. Those always trailed by the anti-corruption war are mostly members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), while the All Progressives Congress (APC) members accused of corruption roam freely.
Those whose apartments were searched in Ikoyi might belong to the PDP. Since the inception of this administration, the EFCC searchlight has steadily beamed on PDP chieftains. For instance, former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, whose apartment was reportedly searched in Ikoyi without finding any cash, belonged to the PDP. The acid test for the anti-corruption agency and the continued relevance of the anti-corruption crusade is for it to unmask the authentic owner of the Ikoyi cash and others whose owners are being kept in the dark.
The earlier the EFCC reveal the real owners of these cash, the better for its reputation and that of the APC government. As an investigation agency, EFCC ought to know the owner of the Ikoyi cash and others. The whistle-blowers can assist it to ascertain the real owners of the recovered cash. The secrecy surrounding the owners of these cash is an avoidable mess. Revealing the real owners of the recovered loot is what the agency can do to assure Nigerians that the anti-graft war of the government is still on course. Are we now killing corruption or corruption fighting back and killing us?
Before the EFCC excavates that cash that was buried in various cemeteries, septic tanks, and forests, as Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, recently revealed, it should tell Nigerians the owner of the Ikoyi cash and others. There should be no cover up in this particular matter. There should also be no sacred cow. The matter should not be swept under the carpet as we used to do.
While Nigerians wait with for EFCC to reveal the owners of the humongous cash, the government should go ahead to give Nigerians the total amount so far recovered from looted funds. This has become necessary to avoid a situation where some characters might loot from the recovered loot. Government should deploy the recovered loot to attend to the needs of Nigerians urgently. There is no point keeping recovered loot while many Nigerians are suffering. Government should not keep money for us while many Nigeria citizens are daily suffering. Government must attend to the welfare of the people, the primary reason for its existence.
While the presidential panel is working hard to reveal to Nigerians the owners of the newly recovered loot, it should resist any attempt to conceal the real owners of the loot. Covering the owners of the loot will harm government’s anti-corruption war and even kill it. The only way government can keep its anti-graft war on course is to honestly reveal the owners of the newly recovered loot. Nigerians are anxiously waiting for the good news.
For the anti-corruption war to retain its steam, it should beam its searchlight to corrupt Nigerians, including those in APC. Doing so will remove from it the charge of selectivity and partisanship. For the war to be meaningful and effective, the agency must be apolitical, open and work in the interest of all Nigerians.
The whistle-blowing policy of the government will work more if Nigerians see transparency in the activities of the anti-corruption agency. The needless drama over the cash haul is diversionary. Above all, fighting corruption is the duty of all Nigerians.