Looters’ List:  FG Will Not Be Intimidated, Says Lai Mohammed

  • Jonathan’s aide releases ‘real looters’ list govt should have released

By Tobi Soniyi and Chinedu Eze in Lagos Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The federal government has assured Nigerians that no amount of pressure, including the antics of hack writers and threats of litigation would prevent it from releasing more names of the alleged looters of the public treasury.

This came as former Special Assistant to the former President Goodluck Jonathan on Social Media, Reno Omokiri, yesterday released what he called ‘The real looters’ list,’ which the federal government should have released if it were sincere about fighting corruption.

In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, claimed that since the release of the first two lists of the alleged looters, there have been overt and covert attempts to intimidate and blackmail the federal government into discontinuing the release of more looters’ names.

‘’Hack writers have inundated the social and traditional media with articles casting aspersion on the lists, while some newspapers have even resorted to writing editorials against the federal government over the release of the lists. Most of the write-ups have accused the government of politicising the anti-graft war by releasing the lists. We strongly disagree with them.

‘’We do not have the power to try or convict anyone. That is the exclusive preserve of the courts. But we have the power to let Nigerians know those who turned the public treasury into their personal piggy banks, on the basis of very concrete evidence, and that is what we are doing,’’ he said.

Mohammed said the government has always known that corruption would fight back, fast and furious, and that it was not surprised at the hiring of hack writers to attack the very idea of naming and shaming the looters, or the hysterical threats of litigation.

‘’All the fuss about politicising the anti-corruption fight is aimed at preventing the government from releasing more looters’ names and at the same time muddling the waters. But 1,000 negative write-ups or editorials will not deter us from releasing the third and subsequent lists. For those who have chosen to give succour to looters, we wish them the best of luck with their new pastime,’’ he said.

The minister said the pressure being mounted on the government over its decision to expose looters was not unexpected.

He said:  ‘’We know where the pressure is coming from. However, the die is cast. We will not stop until we have released the names of all those who have looted our commonwealth. Those who have not looted our treasury have nothing to be afraid of. He challenged anyone who felt that he or she had been wrongly accused to seek redress in court, rather than engaging in exhibitionist sophistry.

Mohammed also reminded Nigerians that it was the PDP that dared to challenge the federal government into releasing  the list of PDP looters, hence the argument that the list only contained the  names of PDP members fell short without proper contextualisation.

‘’We are not underestimating the desperation of the looters, but we wish to assure Nigerians who are justifiably outraged at the mindless plundering of the nation’s wealth also of our determination not to back down. Nigerians must know those who have wrecked the country and mortgaged the future of their children,” Mohammed added.

However, former Special Assistant to the former President Jonathan on Social Media, Omokiri, has released what he called ‘The real looters’ list,’ which the federal government should have released if it were sincere about fighting corruption.

Many in the list are political office holders in the current federal government, some state governors and some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which he put the total amount looted at $30 billion.

Some names in the list included President Muhammadu Buhari aides, a governor in the South-east zone, a governor in the South-west, a governor in the North-central and others.

Omokiri argued that he has strong evidence of looting against them, including documentary evidence or eyewitness testimony, which promoted him to add them in the list.

He said his list was not exhaustive, noting that there are many other “looters” that make future lists.

Others mentioned in the list included a Manging Director of one of the country’s oil corporation, ministers and the Executive Secretary of national health scheme.

“There are many others, including a South-south ex-governor who is close to President Buhari, whose security vote was incredibly substantial, but unless I have hard documentary evidence or eyewitness testimony, I have avoided listing such persons.

“Nigerians and the international community may find the list below to be a more credible list and I call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission to investigate (ICPC)  to interrogate and prosecute those contained therein, especially as I have produced details and named names, dates and amounts involved which stand at over $30 billion,” he said.

Omokiri alleged that the current administration played politics with fuel subsidy and after prolonged denial, it admitted that it had spent N1.4 trillion on fuel subsidy.

“On several occasions during the 2015 election campaign, then candidate, Buhari, said he did not know what fuel subsidy was and accused the Jonathan administration of scamming Nigerians through the scheme.  Again, on December 28, 2015, President Buhari said he was ending fuel subsidy. On May 12, 2016, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, said subsidy had been removed. The price of petrol was increased on that basis to 145. Then on December 15, 2016, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said there was no more fuel subsidy in Nigeria.

“In the 2016 and 2017 budgets, the National Assembly made no provision for appropriations for fuel subsidy. On December 22, 2017, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Maikanti Baru, said President Buhari had authorised him to make fuel subsidy payments which he tried to hide by using the ingenious term ‘under recovery’. On April 6, 2018, Kachikwu revealed that 1.4 trillion was being spent annually on fuel subsidy payments by the Buhari administration,” Omokiri said.

He also alleged that the administration has been spending money out of the Treasury Single Account (TSA)

“If all funds belonging to the federation are remitted into the Federation Account, if all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) are bound by the TSA, how is it possible for President Buhari to unconstitutionally instruct the GMD of the NNPC to use funds which were not appropriated by the National Assembly to pay for a scheme that was scrapped? This amount is more than twice what was spent by the Jonathan administration on fuel subsidy annually, yet under that government, fuel sold for 87 per liter which is half the price it is being sold for today at 145 per liter,” Omokiri said.

Omokiri also said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is currently headed by Ibrahim Magu, a man whose confirmation as Chairman of the EFCC was denied down by the Senate after a negative report on him by the Department of State Security.

“Under his tenure, Nigeria made her worst ever retrogression in the Transparency International annual Corruption Perception Index, moving 12 places backward from 136 to 148.

“Also, the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, which is the officially recognized global body that fosters cooperation in the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism, has suspended Nigeria because Mr. Magu’s EFCC has, in their opinion, continued to leak financial information passed on to them to the media. This information they leak is overwhelmingly information related to opponents of the Buhari administration,” he added.