Looters’ List SERAP says Lai Mohammed’s made a clumsy move

The minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed released the list of looters on Friday, March 30, 2018.

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Looters' List: SERAP says Lai Mohammed’s made a clumsy move play

SERAP has launched a hotline to fight against corruption

(Eagle Online)
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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the clumsy, arbitrary and selective looters’ list.

The minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed released the list of looters on Friday, March 30, 2018.

SERAP said that it looks like the Federal Government wants to serve a political objective or carry out political agenda.

The organization said: “This kind of action can only diminish the government’s ability to fight corruption, frustrate its oft-expressed goal of a transparent governance, allow suspected perpetrators—whether from the All Progressives Congress (APC) or the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)--to escape justice, and ultimately, deny victims of corruption justice and effective remedies.”

SERAP's Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said “The authorities should withdraw the looters’ list and come up with a comprehensive list as ordered by Justice Hadiza Shagari last year.

“Allowing the published looters’ list to stand will undermine the credibility of the government’s claim to fight corruption, and signal to Nigerians that it is not serious to satisfactorily address the allegations of grand corruption under the former government of President Goodluck Jonathan and involving those close to this government.

 “If Buhari is truly interested in vindicating the rule of law and the proper administration of justice, his government will do well to genuinely obey Justice Shagari’s judgment ordering the authorities to ‘tell Nigerians the full names of all suspected looters of the public treasury past and present.’ Few things would go farther in fostering and nurturing our system of constitutionalism, democracy, and the rule of law."

“This politicized list comes at a time when the government is promoting itself as a beacon of transparency and accountability, and a model for other African countries to follow. The authorities ought to have resisted the temptation to put out this shambolic list and instead obeyed the spirit and the letter of Justice Shagari judgment.

“What is at stake is not just the rule of law, but also the larger question of whether the government is really serious to fight grand corruption and combat the impunity of perpetrators, regardless of who is involved.

 “The government cannot pick and choose which judgments it wants to obey even though the judgments at times may be highly unsettling.

“The judgment ought to have been fully obeyed and implemented even if the government would step on toes and make some politicians—whether in APC or PDP--uncomfortable.

“For the government to impose this list on Nigerians, which would seem to serve as an expedient means to an end that disregard the orders by Justice Shagari is more than a violation of law; it is a breach of trust with the Nigerian people.

“If disobedience of court orders becomes the norm, the ship of government would become anchorless and adrift in a sea of treacherous uncertainty that could lead to a beachhead on the land of tyranny," Mumuni added.

“If Buhari is to renew his commitment to fight corruption regardless of whether it involves politicians from his own party and the opposition, something more than a propaganda list and hypocritical conduct is needed to restore citizens’ confidence in the ability of his government to deliver on good governance. That something more is a restoration of the rule of law.

“Our courts, interpreting our Constitution and legislation, stand as the living symbol of the rule of law. But persistent disobedience of court orders by this government has magnified its lack of respect for the rule of law. Persistent disobedience of court orders is profoundly, dangerously wrong, and a distortion of democratic principles, and ultimately, an assault on the very concept of the rule of law and judicial integrity.”

Court order

According SERAP, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abukabar Malami had last year disclosed President Buhari’s directive to all relevant agencies to compile documents on names of all looters.

The judgment delivered in July last year by Hon Justice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari following a Freedom of Information suit number:  FHC/CS/964/2016 brought by SERAP, ordered the government to tell Nigerians the circumstances under which funds were recovered, as well as the exact amount of funds recovered from each public official.

 Mr Malami made the disclosure during a meeting at his office with a delegation from SERAP in October last year.

SERAP’s suit followed disclosure last year by the Federal Government of funds recovered from some high-ranking public officials and private individuals.

ALSO READ: Olisa Metuh condemns Lai Mohammed over looters' list

The group also revealed that the Ministry of Information last year published details of the recoveries, which showed that the Nigerian government successfully retrieved total cash amount N78,325,354,631.82, $185,119,584.61, £3,508,355.46 and €11, 250 between May 29, 2015 and May 25, 2016.

Also released were recoveries under interim forfeiture, which were a combination of cash and assets, during the same period: N126,563,481,095.43, $9,090,243,920.15, £2,484,447.55 and €303,399.17.

Anticipated repatriation from foreign countries totalled: $321,316,726.1, £6,900,000 and €11,826.11. The ministry also announced that 239 non-cash recoveries were made during the one-year period.

The non-cash recoveries also include: farmlands, plots of land, uncompleted buildings, completed buildings, vehicles and maritime vessels.

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