Prior to Democracy Day, May 29, the presidency had promised to publish names of looters and recovered funds but few days to the D-Day, the Presidency said it can only publish total amount recovered so far, excluding looters names. Since then, there have been mixed reactions over non publication of the names. Some claimed it is a wise decision while others see it as being political and therefore, unwise. JOEL OLUWAGBEMIRO went on the streets of Lagos to seek people’s views. His report:
“They are supposed to reveal their names for the sake of transparency. There should be nothing hidden in it, you need to let the public know them so that those people that looted public funds will not do that again and others too will equally learn from it”. – Obiora Ifeayin, a teacher.
“It is good as they are still keeping their names under carpet for security reasons because if they exposed them now, Nigerians are angry presently now and once they hear someone’s name involved in such corrupt act, the person’s life may be in danger. If they learn such money is in his hand as some people have mansions in the village and nobody is living there. The villagers may because of that arranged to go and burn down their buildings”.- Mr. Abari Muhammed, a retired military man and Estate Management.
“Buhari came for a purpose and I think God want to use him for this nation. I only pray for him to succeed because Nigerians have spoiled this country. Although I can’t call him our Messiah, he is not our Messiah but God want to use him to clear the ground before the real Messiah come. I pray God will help him. By mentioning names of looters, to me, it is not necessary; he should just collect the looted funds and use it for something in the country that will affect people’s lives positively.” – Mr. Adeleke Brown, a Computer Scientist.
“The decision taken by the Presidency to hold on to the names of looters is a very wrong decision in my opinion. The funds we are talking about belong to the public and decision over it should be one that will carry members of the public along so that they can know what their funds are being used for and as well know the people responsible for their impoverishment. It ought to be made public for people to see and know who the individuals are so that others can take precaution. Revealing them to the members of the public should be the main essence of this exercise. If not, why is Government going to the extent of accusing, arresting and taking these people to Courts and recovering the looted funds when they know they won’t publish names of people involved in such a disgraceful act? That is very wrong. The Presidency should summoned courage and publishe the names of these people so that people will know who these looters are and amount recovered back from them. That will show the Government itself is accountable and trustworthy.” – Mr. Ayobayo Babade, a Legal Practitioner.
“It is not easy to release names like that. If the Government dares publish names now, the rest that are still holding on to this money may not come out. Let Government just hold it like that for now till they have done proper investigation on this issue. After their investigations, they can then decide to release their names in full. The Government can’t rush to release names of indicted people. If they rush in, they will rush out.” – Mr. Alatise Akeem, a civil servant.
“It is not a wise decision to hold on to the names of indicted people. They should release names of those involved in looted and embezzled our money. Not only recovering back the looted funds and releasing their names but they should also be made to face the music so that others can learn. The government should summon courage to publish their names so that they themselves will know that they have done a wrong thing. The masses are suffering, many graduates could not get jobs and even those that get are not sure of their jobs. A lot of them are being retrenched on a daily basis, no security of jobs. Besides, many of them are bread winners of their various families. Many of their family members depend on them because they are the only ones that are working, many graduates are jobless. It is very difficult now for people to survive in Nigeria as a result of this hardship”. Mr. Okunlowo Kehinde Adewole, a Market researcher.
“When a matter is in court it is called subjudice. Until there is a final investigation by the EFFC or the case is concluded before they can say they are revealing names. Apart from having a legal implication, government should be allowed to finish all these cases, the issue of charging someone to court and showing them on television is not proper. To me, until investigation is done and completed, I don’t see why names should be published. Because they may even be discharged or acquited if they employ a good lawyer, a senior advocate for instance who will be capable to handle such case and at the end they can then sue the government for defamation and they will pay millions of dollars for damages.” – Barrister Moses Akeem, a senior counsel.
“As far as I’m concerned, it is a wrong decision. We should see you as you have presented yourself to Nigerians. If he says you are honest and want to fight corruption you should be transparent to us. Before then, the Minister of Finance has said that 65 Nigerians stole some amounts of money and said this are the figures that some persons looted that they are recovering. Why did they now find it difficult to release their names; why is it difficult to release the names of those people that have devoured Nigeria”? – Mr. Ogunleye Ade, a civil servant.
“When someone has not been convicted; why should the name be published? What some people are saying is wrong; you don’t mention people’s names like that, it is scandalous and defamatory”. – Mr. Edaward Daodu, a civil servant.
“I think it’s a wise decision and people may not understand it. If you take a look at it on the other side, it seems as if the presidency is hiding their names so that people will not know them that these are the people stealing the public money. But it can as well be for security reasons best known to the government. Besides, they can sue Federal government if at the end they are not guilty of the accusations. It is better they wait to the end of the trials before publishing names”. – Mr. Bernard Anihoro, a business man.
“That is the government policy. There is no way one can go against the government’s policy, if they think secrecy is what will help them to solve the problem on ground, better for them. But normally, they supposed to publish their names so that people will know them but if the government decides otherwise, they may have their reasons. But disclosing their names to the public may serve as deterrent to others and if they think otherwise, they may have some genuine reasons that is not known to us”. – Mr. Simeon Oke, a teacher.
“Legally, you don’t confirm someone to be a thief until it is duly proven in the law court. But I think if they have been found guilty; returning of the money is not substantial enough but their names should as well be published and they should be adequately punished for their offences. If they say after their trial, their names will be revealed that will be understandable when they might have been true with their trials and are been convicted, the government should not hesitate to publish their names so that all Nigerians will know them and amount recovered from each of them. But then, I think government is being careful so that they will not be sued for defamation, I think it is a right decision”. – Mr. Abiola Lawal, Market researcher.
“Corruption is a common thing in our society these days. The purpose of publishing names is to know those that have done wrong, there is nothing wrong with that. Definitely, we should know the names of those that returned money whether through free bargaining or otherwise. If they want to tidy up all these legal requirements, they could have done that earlier before now. If you are saying someone stole money and he is returning the money, these are enough evidence to publish their names except it is not real. Corruption is everywhere, right from the Federal level, States and local levels”. – Mr. Akin Onakoya, an accountant.
“I believe they are just suspects yet to be convicted. Stealing money is all over the place, I can only plead with our leaders, to do more of governance rather than issue of corruption every day.” — Abimbola Ogunbanwo, a journalist.
“The people on the list may also be from the opposition party, the PDP. Therefore, he has to weigh and balance things. It is not that he cannot do it but there are some powerful people involved and the implication is that, it will bounce back on him in terms of running the government effectively and helping the economy to stabilize. I think he already has the list with him but it will definitely take him some time to do that or else, it will affect his own system. The system is quite different from the way he left it before and those people within the system, both APC and PDP have the full knowledge of the system and know how to manipulate the system.” – Mr. Saheed Bello, a researcher Analyst.
“I think it is the wise thing because if he disclosed their names and people begin to know those that are involved, it may result to unrest in the country and they won’t get the rest of them. One way or the other, those people that they have mentioned their names will be publicly castigated and ridiculed. Once people know that this one is there and that one is also is there, the rest will run away”. – Engineer Tomori Idowu.
“Though the presidency supposed to have released the names but because of their policy, they tend to hold on to it. But I believe it should be done with care so that it will not create unnecessary reactions from the people. It also depends on the government’s security plans on ground to curtail unforeseen dangers so that people’s lives will be protected”. Mr. Gbenro Akinrele, business man.
“It has to do with the level of security on ground because by the time they release names of people that are not yet cooperate with them in returning looted funds, their collaborators may not have the confidence again to return the ones in their hands. It is in the interest in the Nigerians if their names are not published now so that we can have more of this people to return looted money which will help in developing the economy. They are doing it for a particular purpose so as not to tarnish people’s images unnecessarily. Before revealing a name, they must have been a thorough investigation because if he fails to do that and it’s later revealed that the person didn’t commit the alleged offence, one will definitely be sued for defamation”. –Mr. Francis Ojugbanna, a marketer and researcher.
“No one has been convicted. Some figures were displayed to us as money being returned and supposed money to be returned. What evidence do we have to justify those figures? This is the fundamental question no one has been able to answer. In my own opinion, those figures are unrealistic, unbelievable and are not real. I don’t believe them; I don’t trust them and don’t in any way bother myself on them. This government has come up on propaganda and any administration stood on propaganda will not last With all due respect to the President, though I’m one of the people that did not vote for him as my president but we should have integrity and some level of trust in him. I’m highly disappointed that at age 73/74, a man can come to the public and he’s going to do A, but when the Chips are down, reverse is now the case. So those figures are not real as far as I’m concerned”. Mr. Obaro Kingsley, sales person in a Micro Finance Bank.