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The looters’ list released recently by the Federal government has been receiving hard knocks from Nigerians.
Part of the constructive criticisms were opinions made by some journalists while featuring recently on PLATFORM TIMES’ JOURNALIST HANGOUT.
The journalists, Bola Agboola of Wazobia reporters, Kunle Olayeni of NewTelegraph and Veteran, Eddy Aina all agreed that it is beyond the functions of the government to convict looters.
While chiding the government to await pronouncement by the court and not preempt judgements of the court, the journalists described the looters’ list as a joke which shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Bola Agboola opined that the list was a sort of diversion adding that without the inclusion of those who had defected to APC since 2014, the list is void.
Bola in his words said, “It’s nothing but a decor to divert the masses’ attention from incompetence of the present administration.
“The Peoples Democratic Party asked the Federal Government to present/name her achievements, that was when Buhari knew there was a looters’ list somewhere. Politicians and political office holders have not performed to expectations all the same but the fact that the list is one sided has made it of no use.
“All members of PDP who defected to APC since 2014 should have been on that list. I am surprised that people like Tinubu, Fashola, Fayemi, James Ibori, Dambazau, Rotimi Amaechi, Timipre Sylva and so on didn’t make the list.
“In Ekiti, the Fayose administration petitioned EFCC on how Fayemi embezzled money belonging to the state, till now, the petition has not been investigated. The government refused to investigate Fayemi because he is part of those who sponsored Buhari’s election.
“The list is best described as a joke, it’s not worthy of our time. Only the court can do that. The list would have been so meaningful if names like Amaechi, Timipre Sylva and co were included.
It is obvious to Nigerians that the list is political, it doesn’t reflect fairness. It does not promote any anti-corruption fight. It will only make opposition looters develop better means of stealing without being caught.
On his part, Kunle Olayeni said the list lacks evidences to verify its claim. He added that past public officers holder should not be called looters by suspicion.
Kunle said, “this topic has generated mixed reactions and it is expected given the political situation of the country and the possible political inclination, allegiance, sympathy and disposition of most commentators. But looking at it dispassionately and legally, can any government official pronounce somebody as a looter?
“The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, reeled out names of ‘looters’ but what evidence does he have to so conclude? Even if he has evidence, only the courts can rule on guilt or otherwise of those accused of corruption. Even the EFCC do lose cases in court. So, what becomes of their verifiable facts if such facts cannot hold water in court? It’s simple: because it is not from the courts or judicial panel or institutions so empowered by the law to make such pronouncement.
“While we may have suspicion about the stupendous wealth of former and serving government officials, it is not permissible to brand them as looters on the basis of our suspicion. If we really have evidence of financial impropriety or misconduct, the way to go is to file petitions to the appropriate law enforcement agencies which will consequently investigate and eventually drag those suspected of abusing their public offices and privileges to court. It is only the courts that reserve the right to judge and brand someone as looter, not a minister appointed by the President.
While describing the list as politically motivated, Kunle said even the fight against corruption is corrupted.
“To me, the list was just another strategy by the govt to up their game ahead of 2019. No more, no less. Of course, it was politically-motivated. The selective crafting of the names on the list is a pointer that it was released for calculated political gains.
“Fighting corruption involves a lot of factors. In Nigeria, anti-corruption war has been so corrupted and ridiculed and that is why the campaign is not achieving the desired results.”
Veteran journalist, Eddy Aina in his submission considered the list as being one-sided adding that the development shows that Nigerians are no longer in support of the fight against corruption.
“That fighting corruption frontally was a key manifesto of president Buhari is not in doubt, the bone of contention is the modus operandi of the anti-corruption fight. The issue of anti-corruption is multi-dimentional –it is moral, it is economical, it is cultural, it is cross national.
“The spate of criticism against the looters list is not unexpected because of the ambivalence displayed by the Federal government. After the president promised to release the looters list on the 29th of May which was the May Day,yet the list was not released.
“This has been the character and operational style of the Federal government. Every of its activity has been shrouded in delays and inaction. If the release of looters list was done almost immediately Nigerians clamoured for it people who ordinarily should be cooling their heels in prison would not have the guts to be accusing the government of double dealing and claiming to be innocent.
“Three, it will be regarded as a witch hunt because people whose cases were already in the courts who have not been found guilty, and are deemed innocent have their names among the looters which is unconstitutional and against the rule of law.
“For me the argument that is One-sided is preposterous and banal. Anywhere in the world whoever is fingered is arraigned and punished. For me, the controversy over the looters list is on the ascendancy because our institutions are not allowed to work. If the investigation institutions are working, if the police is working and the judiciary is not complicit. no agency needs prompting before anybody, however highly placed and is found guilty is brought to book and punished according to the laws of the land.
“The problem with the list is that it reflects the bohemian attitude of the Federal government to serious issues of national importance.
It is disheartening that Nigerians are not supporting the fight against corruption which ever way it is being fought. It probably Buhari and Osinbajo that are fighting the war, sadly the judiciary and the legislative arm are working against the fight. Sadly also, we are yet to come to terms with the fact that Boko Haram, kidnapping, cultism, and communal clashes are symptomatic of the scourge of abject penury and poverty.
“No, it is irrational and uncommonsensical for such a list to contain names of people who have not been found guilty by any court of competent jurisdiction. It unconstitutional and against the rule of law.
“As to the issue of concentrating on PDP, it is a puerile argument. In other climes, where you have virile apolitical institutions, people are brought to justice irrespective of political affiliation. Let whoever is caught with filthy lucre go in for it and when any other party gets to power let them rein in the other party members found guilty.”