That Looters’ List

1728

The list recently released by the Federal Government containing 29 names of alleged looters of the nation’s treasury has continued to elicit controversy and wild condemnation across the country. The list is also generating accusations and counter-accusations between the All Progressives Congress – led Federal Government and the main opposition party in the country.
While the Federal Government has continued to defend the list, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) whose members swell the list is accusing the Muhammadu Buhari administration of political witch-hunting.
Already some of the aggrieved persons are in various courts to prove their innocence while many others have threatened legal actions against the government for defamation of character. One of them is the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus who slammed a libel suit against the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed.
With Nigerians watching and waiting earnestly to see how the melodrama unfolds, the federal authorities are hell-bent on releasing more names of alleged looters.
The Tide is honestly not against any move to expose looters of our common wealth, but we think that the Federal Government should have waited until the suspects were pronounced guilty of the charges by various courts handling their cases. The government’s refusal to observe the due process of law is, therefore, tantamount to abuse of power.
Besides, we consider the timing of the publication as curious and suspicious, particularly coming less than a year preceding the 2019 general elections in the country.
A good analysis of the lists reeled out by the Minister of Information and Culture clearly shows that the main opposition party, PDP was the target of Federal Government’s mudslinging, as no single individual from the ruling APC was fingered in the two batches of the lists released so far.
This is despite the fact that many notable members of the APC, including top government functionaries in the current administration, have been indicted by various panels of inquiry at both the federal and State levels.
We recall that the sacked Secretary to the Federal Government (SFG), Babachir Lawal was indicted over Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) contract scam; former Director of the Department of State Services (DSS), Ayo Oke was removed from office over Osbornegate, while Abdulrasheed Maina was dismissed over pension scam, among other top notchers of the Buhari administration who were indicted of corruption charges.
We also recall that the Transparency International (TI), a global watchdog, recently affirmed that corruption is worse under Buhari’s regime than any other previous administrations in the country.
It is, therefore, our candid opinion that if Buhari’s government wants to be honest and sincere with its anti-graft campaign, it must first of all embark on house-cleansing while also allow the rule of law to take its full course.
Naming political enemies, real or perceived, as looters without exhausting all legal means amounts to cheap blackmail, and certainly not the way to go.
The viable option for the government should have been to allow the law courts to establish proven cases of looting against suspects rather than embarking on character assassination.
We, therefore, hope that the Buhari administration will retrace its step by apologising to Nigerians whose sensibilities were assaulted as well as to persons whose characters were defamed by the publication of the alleged looters’ list.