By Emmanuel Elebeke & Maranatha Ahiaba
ABUJA – President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday launched a property tracker to expose self centered and selfish Nigerians who have stolen public funds and hidden then in lush properties.
The president said the idea behind the Tracker is aimed at exposing corrupt Nigerians who have starched public funds in luxury properties across the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and managing the recovered properties for the benefits of ordinary citizens.
He however, called for repatriation of stolen properties by present and past public office holders and Nigerians who own massive properties at home and abroad and cannot explain where they got the money to own such properties.
The president, who was represented by his Special Adviser and Head, Special Investigation Panel for Recovering of Public Property, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, said: “the war against corruption has begun. We can see that the civil society is very enthusiastic, the civil society is very committed and dedicated. And this is what we have been asking for.”
“We have created this war against corruption so that we can get back our money. Anybody who has taken anything that does not belong to him or her should return it back to Nigeria, otherwise we will track you down and force you to return it,” he said.
He added that both present and past public office holders who own massive property, irrespective of there locations will be tracked.
“Let them tell us where they got the money to own these massive properties. If they cannot explain, let them return the property to Nigeria.”
President Buhari, who decried the monumental corruption that had taken place in the country by past Public Servants in the face of inadequate infrastructure said, “We don’t have good schools, there is massive unemployment all over the country, our hospitals are not equipped despite the fact that Nigeria has a lot of resources.
“I launch this property tracker to expose all those who have taken anything from Nigeria. We will expose them and compel them to return them back to Nigeria and our country at least be like Dubai.”
He said the fight against corruption should not be the fight of the president alone; but should be the fight of Nigerians because “we are all victims of corruption.”
He urges the civil society organizations to support those of us who are fighting corruption.
He also commended the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, for
coming out with IBS to develop the Property Tracker.
“For me, this is one of the most important contributions to fighting corruption. It is very encouraging idea to support the anti-corruption stride of this administration.”
The executive director of ANEEJ, David Ugolor, explained that The property tracker is a platform where citizens can report properties that are owned by politically exposed persons for the government to know the source and if they are paying tax on those properties.
He said that the citizens can report to the government and to federal Inland Revenue services or law enforcement agencies to ensure that the appropriate tax is collected for those properties.
According to him, ANEEJ is working with the federal government agencies.
“We are also going to be working with law enforcement agencies, task office, and public awareness organizations,” he added.