By Onozure Dania
The United States of America, has threatened the Federal Government of Nigeria, to ensure that the over $308million looted and laundered abroad by former Head of State, late Gen Sani Abacha, is not re-stolen in Nigeria again, otherwise, it will recover it back from Nigeria.
The warning was sequel to the February 4, 2020, repatriation pact the Federal Government signed with the US, and the government of Jersey to return the money.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which was also involved in the pact, said the US government warned against the money being re-looted.
The Anti- Graft Agency’s Secretary, Mr. Olanipekun Olukoyede, said this in Lagos last Friday during an anti-corruption walk organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Youths and Sports Development and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
Olukoyede said: “Two weeks ago, I was privileged to be on the team that went to recover $308million for Nigeria. They are from Washington.
“You know what the Oyinbos told us when we wanted to sign the treaty? They had the audacity to look into our eyes and said: ‘If you people steal this money again, we will collect it back from you.’
“I stood up against them, I said: ‘We are not a corrupt nation. A few people might have stolen money, but Nigeria is not a corrupt nation. We have a lot of youths who are not corrupt.
“And you know it is not their fault, (they said that) because they have seen recovered loot being looted again.”
Public money looted by Abacha during his five years in power is estimated to be about $5 billion.
The anti-corruption walk, Themed: “Nigerian Youth Walk against Corruption” held simultaneously across the country, the Lagos zone, walk across Lagos Island and Ikoyi, included EFCC staff, NYSC members and officials, among others.
Olukoyede urged the youths to shun corruption and be diligent in whatever they do.
He said: We have arrested so many youths. If we keep putting youths in jail, what is going to be the future of Nigeria?
“So, we want to encourage you; where ever you see corrupt practice, say no to it. Resist it. If anyone is trying to lure you to it, say no. You can win by integrity. Integrity pays.
“Very soon as Youth Corp members will start job-hunting. But where are the jobs? Why aren’t you getting the jobs? A few people have plundered the country’s resources.
‘But let me assure them that at the EFCC, we are not relenting. Let corruption fight back, we will stand against it. We will fight corruption. We will send them to jail. We are not going to give them any chance again in Nigeria.”
“I want to implore you, this is just the beginning. We will soon be calling and inviting you to join us for more battles against corruption. Nigerian youths don’t believe in those engaging in 419 (fraud). 419 does not pay. You’ve seen some of the ones we’ve arrested. For instance, Mompha. Would you be proud to be like him.”
“Anyone you see displaying wealth on social media is corrupt and a thief. One day, the arms of the law will catch up with them. It’s only a matter of time. So, don’t fashion your life after theirs. If you’re diligent in what you do, you will make it. The EFCC Chairman is diligent, look at where he is today. Diligence pays. Hard work pays, “He said.
Olukoyede said “Do you know that some of the buildings built with taxpayers’ money, corrupt people are buying those buildings and privatising them? We will monitor them, profile them, we will find out where that money came from. If they cannot justifiably defend it, we will take it back from them.
“The assets we recovered from corrupt people are going to be justifiably used to develop our infrastructure, I can assure you of that. All the assets we are recovering, nobody is sitting on those assets. It is going back into the budget, into infrastructure.
“Now we have a president who has the will to fight corruption. He is not a corrupt man, I can tell you that. So, if we can support what the EFCC is doing, what the NYSC is doing, then we can create a new future for Nigeria.