A row broke out yesterday over the updated “list of looters” released at the weekend by the Federal Government.
lawyers and some of those on the list took on the government, but Lagos
lawyer Festus Keyamo (SAN) said the listing of “looters” was in order.
of Information Lai Mohammed issued the list of “28 looters” in two
instalments, after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenged the
government to name those who looted the treasury when the party was in
On the list are ex-ministers, ex-governors, senators, former party leaders and campaign chiefs, among others.
Ferdinand Orbih (SAN) described the list as “danger to democracy and
the rule of law”. He is opposed to the release of names of those who are
still in court as looters.
He said: “Such persons are presumed innocent until proven otherwise by the Constitution, which the President swore to uphold.
case against Nenadi Usman is pending in court. The Federal Government
that has labelled her as a looter of public funds is yet to prove the
allegations against her in court.
“The government, by taking this
matter to the court of public opinion, is making a strong statement –
either that it has no confidence in the process it initiated in court or
it is calculated to arm-twist the judiciary to convict her at all
“Either way, the publication by the government portends
grave danger to democracy and the rule of law. Surely, there will be a
legal response to this Executive gross misbehavior,” added Orbih.
Keyamo said: “If you have the facts at your disposal that somebody is a
thief, and you know your facts are unassailable, you can go ahead and
name the person as a thief. The person does not need to be convicted
before you, based on the facts, can name the person as a thief. But this
is so long as you have your unassailable facts that you can present at
the appropriate time to defend yourself if you are sued for defamation.”
Keyamo explained that the government may also be in the process of charging those on the list who are not under trial.
said: “Even those who have not been charged to court, the Federal
Government may be in the process of charging them. It may be in the
process of drafting charges and arraigning them. So long as they have
their unassailable facts, there is nothing wrong with the Federal
Government naming whoever it wants to name based on the facts at its
Keyamo also encouraged aggrieved persons to sue,
saying: “It is left to the person to go to court. Going to court is not a
threat to anyone. It is a welcome development. A welcome development
because it is even in court that the Federal Government will have the
opportunity to lay bare the facts.
“So, we must encourage the PDP
members who were named to go to court. If they don’t want to go to
court, we must beg them to do so. That is where all the facts will be
Former Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu said he
did not loot the treasury during his eight-year tenure. He threatened to
challenge the allegation in court.
In a statement in Minna
yesterday, he said: “ I wonder why the Federal Government should include
my name in the 24 treasury looters’ list released again by the Minister
of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.’’
The former governor said
nobody had confronted him with any document that he received N1.6
billion from the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki.
He urged the government to prove its allegation.
that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was doing everything possible
to blackmail him because he refused to join the party.
“The APC government has embarked on calculated blackmail against my person because I refused to join the party.
“We all have our minds and what we believe in politics is a thing of the mind.
the orchestrated plot to tarnish my image, I am presently before the
Federal High Court and a Niger High Court for the same alleged offence.
“This is to show that the government is hell bent on bringing me down but they will not succeed.
a governor, I left a landmark for posterity; no amount of blackmail or
character assassination can wipe me out from the minds of the people,’’
Former Aviation Minister Femi Fani-Kayoede, in a
statement, said he was innocent, adding that the N860 million he
collected to run the media campaign for former President Goodluck
Jonathan in 2015 was not from the government’s purse.
He said: “I
did not receive and neither was I ever given one kobo by any government
official, government agency or government parastatal during President
Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure.
“The money that I received was given
to me by the Director of Finance of the Jonathan Campaign Organisation,
Mrs. Esther Nenadi Usman, before the election in 2015 and it was
specifically for the conduct of the presidential election.
Director of Media and Publicity of the Campaign Organisation and it was
used specifically and solely for the running and conducting of the
media and publicity aspect of the election.
“Mrs. Usman, who was
Minister of Finance during the Obasanjo government, was neither a
member of the Jonathan government and neither did she manage, handle or
touch any government funds in her capacity as Director of Finance of the
“The money she made available to me came from
a private company account which was used to house contributions made to
the Jonathan campaign by party supporters after a series of fundraising
“These were private funds and not public funds and
neither can anyone expect us to have run an election in 2015 without any
money. You do not run election campaigns with sand but with money.
is common knowledge that the Buhari campaign in 2015 was funded by
moneys that can be traced directly to the state governments of Rivers
State, Lagos State, Kano State, Ogun State and a number of other key APC
states, yet not one of those involved or that governed any of those
states at the time have been questioned, arrested or prosecuted by the
EFCC or the Federal Government.
“From the foregoing, it is clear
that the Buhari administration’s so-called war against corruption is
selective and punitive and it is nothing but a vicious media trial and
“It is nothing but a squalid
and mafia-like attempt to muscle, discredit, demonise and silence key
members of the opposition. It is slanderous, malicious and unjust.
only is this a violation of the constitutional provision that says that
an accused person is deemed innocent until they are proved guilty by a
duly constituted court of law, but it is also highly prejudicial to the
criminal cases that they are or may be facing.
“Apart from that,
it is a crude and sordid attempt to intimidate the judges and influence
the outcome of the cases which are before them and also to compel them
to give the judgement that the government wants. This is not only
unacceptable but it is also shameful.
“It is a clear violation of
the concept of separation of powers, which gives the judiciary alone
the power to determine the guilt or otherwise of an accused person.
is trite law that only a court of law can declare a man guilty or
declare him a thief or a looter and not Buhari and his government.
cannot be the investigator, accuser, prosecutor and judge in your own
case. This is a basic principle of criminal and constitutional law which
appears to have been lost on President Buhari and his cohorts.
also deny all the charges that have been levelled against me by the
EFCC, I hereby restate my innocence and I shall continue to vigorously
defend myself and my good family name in the court of law.
have no doubt that in the end my innocence will speak for me. God will
vindicate me and He will expose my accusers for the heartless monsters
that they really are.”
A former federal Permanent Secretary, Godknows Igali, alleged that his name was “smuggled” into the list of looters.
who is alleged to have looted N7billion, wrote on his Facebook page:
“On account of my background, I am normally taciturn, but I cannot keep
silent against such weighty unfounded allegation.
surprisingly, my name was smuggled into the list, against a whopping
‘loot’ of N7 billion. I understand Godknows Igali was dragged in last
minute to create the needed effect. After all, he’s one of Jonathan’s
“For the avoidance of doubt, this is totally false, as
no amount whatsoever has been recovered from me or traced to me. Indeed,
N7billion recovered from which accounts, which banks and when?
life has been an open book of distinguished public service in
diplomatic service, scholarship and administration. In all places where I
had served, the records are there for all to see. I continue to stand
tall and remain undaunted. I am of modest background and very simple
lifestyle. I am extremely contented and awesomely grateful to God.”
former permanent secretary lamented that it was the third time the
government had hit the headlines with such “negative news” about him
“Coincidentally, all the three occasions were during
festive periods. Most prominent is the tale of 45 SUVs supposedly found
in my compound, which everyone now knows was a fabrication and fake
news,” he said.
“It is now common knowledge that the vehicles in
question were leftovers from the erstwhile Jonathan-Sambo campaign
bought with a bank loan and confiscated from the premises of a known
business concern that is not connected whatsoever with me. The loan is
now being recovered forcefully and perhaps being termed a ‘loot’.
former President Goodluck Jonathan’s loss of the election and peaceful
exit from office in 2015, I knew that some of us close to him,
especially me, will suffer and carry lots of crosses. So, they have
continued to pursue without relenting. Yes, some of us are victims and
scapegoats. It’s all unfair and ungodly! But then, these and many more
afflictions will come like floods and pass. There is nothing new under
the sun. So it is well, indeed!”