Rotimi Agboluaje, Ibadan
The Nigeria Conference of Nigerian Political Parties CNPP, Nigerians at meetings and at newsstands as well as a human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare the stand of his government on the recovered $43.4m, N23m and £27,000 (N13bn) to prove to Nigerians that the activity of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was not lopsided by naming and prosecuting the true owner of the monry.
The recovered money has since become a source of controversy among the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who is claiming ownership on the grounds that the Minister of Transport and former governor of the state, Rotimi Amaechi, looted the money, Amaechi, who has denied any relationship with the money and the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, which is claiming ownership as money for its espionage activities.
In its statement made avialable to Thisage, The CNPP accused the federal government of plotting to shield the real owner of the sums of $43, 449, 947, £27, 800 and N23, 218, 000 (about N13.3 billion) recovered last Wednesday by the EFCC, at Flat 7B, No 16 Osborn Towers Ikoyi Lagos State
The umbrella organization of all political parties and association in the country warned that it will mobilize its members, well-meaning Nigerians, and civil society groups to resist any cover up of the real owner of the stashed cash, dismissing the claims that the money belongs to National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
“We’re worried that the current anti-graft war is becoming a show as each day passes. It is more worrisome when you begin to hear that a government security agency, the NIA, which is not a revenue-generating organ of the federal government, is laying claim to the recovered.
“The NIA’s angle to the controversy is nothing but a deliberate plot by the federal government to cover up the true identity of the looter.
“How can the NIA claim to own N13 billion cash stashed in a private residential apartment; NIA has no office in Lagos?”
“The war against corruption is now being exposed for what it truly is on daily basis, a lopsided fight against perceived enemies of the present administration, while all members of the ruling party are shielded from prosecution.
“The case of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) is still fresh in our minds, how President Muhammadu Buhari quickly absorbed him of any wrong doing even before any investigation was carried.
“The Minister of Transport has been at the centre of several financial scandals which were never investigated. But any plot to cover up the owner of the Ikoyi apartment loot will be strongly resisted, with the CNPP leading the struggle. Enough is enough”, the CNPP stated.
SERAP in a statement on Sunday by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said:
“Democracy abhors secrecy, and for Nigerians to be able to hold elected leaders accountable, they must have access to information such as on the real identities of those behind the Ikoyi cash haul.
“This transparency is fundamental to the operation of the government’s whistle-blower policy, and inextricably rooted in the notions of good governance and the rule of law under the 1999 Nigerian constitution (as amended)
“Public scrutiny is a prerequisite for changing harmful, entrenched practices. Rather than operating the whistle-blowers policy as hidden, mysterious mechanism at the far edge of democracy, this government should make the operation of policy more transparent and accessible to the public.
“Both transparency and accountability are necessary to uphold the rights of victims of corruption and ensure that suspected perpetrators are held to account. The ‘sky will not fall’ if the true identities of those behind the Ikoyi cash haul are revealed.”
Up and down newsstands in many areas of Lagos, Nigerians, though divided on the role of the EFFCC, are united that view the government step forward and lay to rest the ambiguity surrounding the recent upsurge in funds recovered by the EFCC (N42m at Kaduna Airport, N250m in Balogun Market, N4b in an account with GTB, N13.3 billion in an Ikoyi flat) by revealing the real owners.
“Why is it that EFCC is quick to recover money and announce to Nigerians its find with no name or persons caught as owners?’’, asked a bearded middle-aged man with a light complexion, at a newsstand at Iyana-Ipaja bus stop, opposite Iyare Motors and Agofure Motors, Thursday morning
“It is a game. They want to tell us they are working”, said another, this time at a newsstand at the popular Oshodi bus terminal.
In another light, Comrade Adekunle Ajayi of Socialist Youth League, who delivered a lecture at a workers conference in Ibadan yesterday said “judging by information emanating from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other sources it was clear that the ruling class is starving the country.
According to the activist, “this government is wasteful. There is a systematic way of stealing”.