By Rose Moses
During the week, another form of drama played out in our national life. And I title it: ‘List of Treasury Looters of the Federal Republic,’ which was released to the public in two or three parts, technically.
The script was drafted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Federal Government and delivered by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who said it was inspired by a challenge of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Contributing script writer was opposition PDP. Erstwhile aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan on New Media, Reno Omokri, compiled the ‘supporting list’ that added more pep to the whole display.
Sadly, the drama was highly captivating to spectators—Nigerians. Considering that the world is now a global village, many other viewers across the globe were also thoroughly entertained.
And so it was that soon after the APC government, via the Minister of Information and Communication released the first batch of his list with about six names March 30, 2018, the stage was set for what would dominate national discourse all through the Easter celebration and beyond.
The storyline got even juicier when on April 1, 2018, just two days after the first release, when the Information Minister pushed out an updated version, with 23 more names of ‘alleged looters.’
Names on the two lists, he said, were not arbitrary but based on verifiable facts. They were made up of PDP members, and nothing new from what the government had been pushing out to the media with hardly any convictions made yet.
While some hailed the lists, others kicked against it. The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a non-profit organization established in 2004 to promote human rights, transparency, and accountability in governance, described it as clumsy, arbitrary, selective and politicized.
SERAP would rather government obeyed the spirit and letter of Justice Hadiza Shagari’s judgment, which ordered that the authorities tell Nigerians names of all suspected looters of the public treasury, past and present.
To the PDP, the Federal Government’s looters list is merely part of ploy to divert attention from public discourse on its “numerous scandals, manifest sleazes and overall failures in governance.”
And then came Reno Omokri, who brought in more actors, props, costumes, sets, lights and sound, literarily, to the stage. He was in his element, criticising the government for failing to include names of members of the ruling APC accused of, or being tried for corruption.
He had 10 of them on his list he said should make up the Federal Government’s looters list. According to him, that should be “The real looters list that Buhari and Lai Mohammed do not want you to know about.”
They collectively looted $2bn, he said, and wondered why those on that list “have continued to remain in the APC government where they wield immense powers and influence, even over the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that is meant to prosecute them.”
Like the Minister of Information, Omokri said his list was also a ‘teaser’ that could be enlarged, depending on reaction of the Buhari-led government.
In another scene was Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, whose name was included in the Federal Government’s list Number Two released on Sunday, April 1. He was alleged to have looted the sum of N866 million.
Typically, the former Media Director for ex-President Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, described the FG list as nonsensical and utterly shameful, and thus, returns the label of ‘looter’ back to the sender.
To him, it is the trite law that ‘only a court of law can declare a man guilty or declare him a thief or a looter and not Buhari and his government.’
In the whole of this, it would appear the role of the court was hijacked by the actors.
And while the business of looters’ list releases was going on, innocent lives were being taken by bandits and terrorists across the country. Pregnant women and children were also dying in their numbers due to lack of access to primary healthcare. A lot more other lives were being claimed by our dilapidated roads.
Many others were being ravaged by poverty, hunger and diseases. Refugee camps now dot many parts of the country with internally displaced persons living the most wretched life one can ever imagine in their own country.
Above all, many more lootings were probably going on at the time the two groups were trading on looters lists, thus depriving the generality of Nigerians basic necessity of life.
One expect that a government that cares for the well-being of its citizens would hand over corruption cases to the courts and face other business of delivering dividends to the people.
How does release of looters’ lists to the public put food on the table, or pay school fees?
But then, I understand that PDP had the audacity to dare the APC to release a list of looters they claimed they don’t have in their midst. And the Federal Government, it seems, has so much time at its disposal to take up the bet of listing ‘alleged looters.’
‘Who do Nigeria this?’