The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), in its May 1 Workers’ Day 2016 statement, called for the establishment of a special account for the lodgement of the public funds recovered from looters and money launderers stashed abroad or within Nigeria.
We consider this a very useful suggestion and we back it wholeheartedly.
We are tired of hearing all sorts of figures being wilfully bandied by the Federal Government, its agents and supporters of the ruling party as having been looted or recovered without any convincing shred of evidence to back up the claims.
For instance, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Alhaji Abubakar Malami (SAN) on February 3, 2016, disclosed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recovered the whopping sum of two trillion US Dollars (over N600 trillion) from looters in the past twelve years. He was hotly challenged to provide proof, but he never took up the challenge.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in January this year, also alleged that 55 Nigerians stole 1.3 trillion Naira in eight years before Buhari took over. He did not disclose their identities nor did he say how soon he would do so. Furthermore, a former Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Ibrahim Lamorde, was accused of stealing over one billion Naira recovered from looters. Though he denied the charges, he refused to appear before a parliamentary committee enquiring into the allegation, even after he lost his job.
Apart from these, there are countless other stories of former public officers returning stolen public funds, the details of which are kept from the public.
We believe that establishing a special account for recovered funds with the public given open access to all information about how it is being administered will go a long way in boosting public support for the war on corruption.
Nigerians will be glad to be able to visit an online site dedicated to such endeavours and track the amounts confirmed stolen or laundered and amounts recovered, as well as those being prosecuted for such offences. It will also delight the public to know how the funds are being spent. Such transparent disclosures will assure Nigerians that the recovered funds are not being re-stolen by those in charge of their custody.
We agree with the NLC that such recovered funds should be devoted to alleviating the sufferings of the common people, particularly providing job opportunities and infrastructure upgrades. They should be duly appropriated by the National Assembly in the overall interest of the nation.
Keeping the administration of recovered funds clean and transparent will not only promote accountability, it will also show that we are serious about the war on corruption.