Itse Sagay, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), has revealed why President Muhammadu Buhari cannot prosecute former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.
The federal government led by Mr. Buhari of the All Progressive Congress (APC) has always complained of the misrule it met in power, blaming the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The PDP until 2015 had been at the helm of affairs in the country and has produced three presidents on its platform since the return to democracy in 1999.
Two of those it produced as presidents (Obasanjo and Jonathan) are still alive while one (Umaru Musa Yar’adua) is late.
The incumbent government had from the day of its Inauguration been blaming its predecessors of misrule but some Nigeria is calling for the prosecution of the former leaders if so much looting was carried out under their regimes instead of persistent lamentation.
But in an interview with Punch Newspaper, Sagay disclosed that the nation was not ripe for such hence the former leaders could not be tried.
“Speaking from a peripheral level, unlike in South Africa, Brazil, and other countries, we don’t have a history or culture in this country of prosecuting our former presidents. It will take a long time, when we’ve developed and become more mature, to do that kind of thing. Right now, if you touch a former president, the storm that it will bring will be so diversionary and disturbing that it will affect your capacity to do positive things for the citizens. In my own thinking, you have to leave them alone and go for those who carried out the act of looting,” Sagay was quoted by the paper to have said.
He also said there should be media trial for looters who amassed wealth illegally from the nation’s treasury.
Mr. Sagay said looters need to be tired in the media so that people will know how they got their wealth and shame them should they appear in public.
He stated this while reacting to claims by former president Olusegun Obasanjo that the current administration was just making noise about the war against corruption.
“I don’t agree with him. Noise should be made because you cannot reduce us to this level of poverty and wretchedness and think the government will continue to hide your name from the public. Even if a person has yet to be convicted, let them be subjected to the odium of public contempt so that when you see his child driving a Rolls Royce, you should be able to point at him and say, ‘That’s a car bought with our stolen treasury that you are driving.’ I support media trial; let the looters be tried in the press. If they feel there is anything wrong with it, let them sue the government; they have the right to sue if they didn’t steal.”
When asked what will be happened to the reputation of the alleged looters soiled due to the media trial if they are eventually found to be innocent, Sagay could not give a straight answer.
He said: “Why there should be media trial is that it’s not every corrupt person that will be convicted. Therefore, something should be done to mark them so that when they appear in public, everybody will know and say, ‘Here is another looter who is not in prison!’”
He also noted why the looters’ lists contained names of most members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“…I am not surprised that the list contains mostly the PDP members because they were the ones in charge of our commonwealth before the APC came in. APC wasn’t the party in charge of our commonwealth before.”
When asked what the fate to those perceived to be corrupt who left the PDP for APC citing a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro who was alleged to have taken part in the same $2.1bn arms scam that led to the inclusion of PDP members on the looters’ list as an example, he said there must have been a development which led to the omission of Obanikoro’s name.
Sagay noted that the government is going to publish the name of 55 persons it said allegedly looted N1.34tn under the Jonathan regime.
Giving more insights he said the list includes former governors, ministers, bankers and so on, noting that the expected list is another one entirely.
The PACAC chairman also said looting of public funds was still ongoing at the national assembly through budget padding.
He said the implementation of treasury single account (TSA) by the Buhari administration has shown that country is making trillions of naira that “nobody knew about.”
“Nobody is sharing any money again — but perhaps at the national assembly looting is still ongoing due to budget padding. Some sharing may be going on at that level, but at the executive level, I can assure you that no sharing is going on.
“Remember, we have the treasury single account, though initiated by the Jonathan administration, never implemented. The TSA has revealed the trillions of naira that this country had been making but which nobody knew about.”