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Sunday, 8 April 2018

Big Looters’ List Incomplete Until APC Members Are Identified – Transparency International

The Head of Transparency International in Nigeria and Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Musa Rafsanjani, speaks on the looters’ list released by the Federal Government and other issues, in this interview with The Punch's Olaleye Aluko.

The Federal Government has released some names of alleged treasury looters. Do you think this is a step in the right direction for Nigeria?

Absolutely, I don’t think there is anything wrong in publishing names of people that have actually looted the resources of the country. They have plunged us into the misery we now find ourselves. If these persons were investigated and found to have committed that offence, it was right for their names to be disclosed.

However, I have my reservations about the decision to publish their names. First, why has it taken the Federal Government so long to publish the names? The names were published months to the election season and the first interpretation Nigerians gave to the scenario was that it was a political witch-hunt.

Another issue is that the list is not comprehensive. The government did not include members of the ruling party being investigated for corruption. Therefore, people are likely to, again, give the list a political interpretation. When the people have this feeling, the effect the Federal Government expected the disclosure to have is already lost.

For me, the timing of the list is not appropriate and the list is not comprehensive. We know that in Nigeria, there are lots of people who have also looted this country at the local and state government levels. Last year, I know that there was a court ruling mandating the Federal Government to publish the names of the looters. But the government did not immediately do that. The government must revisit the list and see that it includes those persons from its own political party also.

Some Nigerians believe that the list is one-sided, and therefore, not credible. Do you agree with this? 
Some of these people have confessed and they have even promised to return the looted funds. The only thing is that the Federal Government must not allow political considerations in the compilation of and investigation into people who looted the country’s treasury. This is a very important national task that should not be mixed with politics.

I think, like the court has ruled, the government must bring out a comprehensive list of the looters. The government must be sincere in its identification of the looters. The government must not allow these officials to hide under their party. There are even some looters who neither belong to the Peoples Democratic Party nor to the All Progressives Congress; they are civil servants. This is why the government must not be found playing politics with its investigations into the loot. But whatever the case, anyone who has looted this country must not be allowed to go scot-free. Otherwise, the very important work of sanitising the country will be watered down.

Some of the alleged looters have said their cases were still in court, arguing that it was improper for the government to publish their names. Do you share this view? 
No, but they are confessed looters because some or many of them have agreed to return the money. So, nobody should hide under the guise of court. Publishing the names of only the PDP members did not exonerate them from committing the offence against this country. Some of the PDP members have confessed to the looting and have even offered in recent past to return their loot.

We need to separate the two facts – that the looters have indeed offered to return the money and that the Federal Government still has more names to publish
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