By Chikaobi Idenyi
Since the advent of the discovery of our looted funds by public officials in different parts of the country, I have been the least excited, not because it is not a huge fit to achieve, but because there is no accountability, for close monitoring, of the ones that have been recovered so far.
During his second screening by the Nigerian Senate on the 15th of March 2017 for his confirmation as the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the leading government agency in the fight against corruption, Mr Ibrahim Magu gave the whole world a shocker while answering a question posed to him by the senator representing Ekiti North Federal Constituency, Senator Duro Faseyi where he said that it is hard for him to say how much the commission have recovered so far since their rejuvenated fight against corruption began; An evasive answer at best, if I am to say.
One of this governments strongest political points that led to their victory, unseating an incumbent government in the March 28, 2015 general election, is to fight corruption to a standstill without fear or favor, not minding whose ass is gored. The presidency even made revelations of obtaining the names of those who depleted our national treasury for their own personal aggrandizement, promising to make public those names only to back down at the eleventh hour; dashing the hopes of the masses who at least would want to know the individuals who are responsible for their sufferings and the abandoned projects that littered the country that could have made life better for them.
I remembered a police TV program back in the days that was called “Crime Fighters” where the Police paraded criminals and the properties they were alleged to have stolen. A Nigerian music artist, African China, observing the trend of the program at that time, did a song where he questioned why we only get to see the faces of poor men that ‘stole maggi’ on Crime Fighters but we never get to see the faces of rich men that ‘stole money’ on Crime Fighters and I also lend my voice to that question, is their own crime a sacred crime? Why don’t we get to see their faces too?.
Reminiscing on what African China sang about years back, I marvel at how much have not changed since then. The same is still obtained in our society today where those that embezzled billions of our collective wealth are given a pat on the back and a go-and-sin-no-more treatment just because the government want to ‘encourage’ others to return their own loot willingly while an ordinary Nigerian who as much as steal a handset, gets immediate judgment and is sent to prison. I ask, since when did we begin to pamper criminals? Is it the larger the loot, the less likely an individual is to be punished according to the law? What example are we showing the younger generation who watch as these events unfold everyday?.
I am not an advocate of petty thievery or any theft at all but what is good for the goose should also be good for the gander. If the face of a ‘maggi thief’ could be shown on Crime fighters, let the face of a ‘money thief’ be shown too. This issue of some animals being more equal than the others shouldn’t have a place in our fight against corruption if we want the world to take us seriously.
If the law, world over, is no respecter of person(s) and ignorance of it therefore no excuse for letting whoever breaks it off the hook, Nigeria shouldn’t be in the practice of letting whoever abuses his office and embezzles public fund off the hook just because s/he voluntarily returned the loot.
In building a strong society with values, there is need to have working systems. To have working systems, in the case of the fight against corruption, requires that the law must ‘always’ take its full course no matter who is involved. Shielding some set of influential individuals from the full weight of the law smacks of hypocrisy which weakens the systems and brings about a deplorable society.
A government that does not keep its word to its subjects encourages mistrust and suspicion among the masses. Government should, as a matter of urgency, release to the public domain, with verifiable documents, the names of those that used their offices to embezzle public fund and betrayed public trust as we would not want them to be unknowingly re-admitted into public offices again through elections or appointments. Government shouldn’t hold it out to themselves only to be used as a political tool during election campaigns.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should be very professional in their operations. There should be concrete evidence(s) to nail corrupt individuals/government officials. One that cannot be easily denied by the accused and can easily convince the judge and the jury. They shouldn’t be too quick to burst cash that cannot be traced to any individual or company because they want to impress Nigerians that they are doing their job.
The general public should also be updated with facts and figures of the recovered loots so far, the ministries or agencies which the loots where handed over to for onward monitoring and follow up with accountability should also be made public as it will be a travesty that the recovered loots are re-looted under our very nose.
Photo credit: pulse.ng
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The article is an opinion from the writer and does not represent the editorial policy of The Sight News.