The whole world is currently in shock over a massive document leak which has exposed prominent persons from several countries who own hidden offshore assets.
The documents are being described as the “
The scandal has led to the resignation of Iceland's Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, whose wife was discovered to own an offshore company with big claims on the country’s banks.
British Prime Minister, David Cameron is also i due to his father, Ian Cameron being linked to an offshore fund that avoided paying tax in Britain.
The Nigerians who have so far been connected to the list are former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, wife of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Toyin and former Senate President David Mark.
According to an investigative report compiled by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Mossack Fonseca was the registered agent of four offshore companies connected to Ibori, including Julex Foundation, of which Ibori and family members were beneficiaries.
Mrs Toyin Saraki has been linked with three offshore companies, Girol Properties Ltd, Sandon Development Limited and Landfield International Developments Ltd.
David Mark, on the other hand, has been linked to at least eight active offshore shell companies registered in the British Virgin Islands, making him one of Nigeria’s most extensive users of such establishments.
The companies are Sikera Overseas S.A, Colsan Enterprises Limited, Goldwin Transworld Limited, Hartland Estates Limited, Marlin Holdings Limited, Medley Holdings Limited, Quetta Properties Limited and Centenary Holdings Limited.
Finding the names of prominent Nigerians on such a controversial list is no surprise, in fact the only surprise here is that only three citizens of the country have been named in the scandal.
The amount of money which has been stolen from Nigeria in the past few decades is so mind-boggling, it’s a wonder that the country is still in existence.
The first name which comes to mind in this case, and which is surprisingly not on the list, yet, is Sani Abacha. The former dictator is believed to have stolen about $5 billion from Nigeria which he stashed in foreign accounts.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the first Nigerian leader to launch fervent anti-corruption efforts, has also revealed that corrupt officials have stolen $150 billion from Nigeria in last 10 years.
“The fact that I now seek Obama’s assistance in locating and returning $150 billion in funds stolen in the past decade and held in foreign bank accounts on behalf of former, corrupt officials is a testament to how badly Nigeria has been run. This way of conducting our affairs cannot continue,” Buhari wrote in an article published in the Washington Post on Monday, July 20, 2015, before a meeting with US President, Barack Obama.
The startling revelation was corroborated by other public officials who listed smaller, but equally incredible, sums which had been stolen from the country.
The Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, said that Nigeria was losing about 1 billion dollars a month to corruption during the tenure of former President, Goodluck Jonathan.
Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole said that a former minister under the Jonathan administration embezzled more than $6 billionwhile in office.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai said that a former minister’s associates approached him with an offer to return $250 million in obviously looted funds in a bid to avoid Buhari’s sweeping anti-corruption war.
Former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki supervised the looting of $2 billion in fundsmeant for the procurement of arms for Nigeria’s military.
Also, according to a report by American news channel, PBS News Hour, former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke might have personally supervised the looting of $6 billion (N1.2 trillion) from Nigeria’s coffers.
The list goes on and on with each discovery being even more shocking than the one before it.
This is why it is clear that the Panama papers will still expose more Nigerians, because to hide all this stolen money, one would have to fling it far and wide, like Abacha did.
Funds stolen by the late dictator have been recovered from Switzerland, Channels Island and even Liechtenstein,so it’s only natural for the thieves following in his footsteps to spread their ill-gotten wealth to reduce the chances of getting caught.
The ICIJ has said that it will release all the details contained in the Panama Papers in early May (next month) so Nigerians will have to wait till then to know the names of even more shameless and conscienceless looters who have robbed the country dry.
One can only hope that the information will be used by the Nigerian government to ensure that looters are punished and the scourge of corruption is nipped in the bud once and for all.
Watch the PBS News Hour report on looting by Nigerians below: