BUHARI UNDER PRESSURE TO SHELVE NAMING TREASURY LOOTERS, AS OBASANJA, JONATHAN VISIT


Buhari Under Pressure To Shelve Naming Treasury Looters
•As Obasanjo, Jonathan visit
•Details of recovered money may be out today

An unusual pressure is learnt to have been mounted on President Muhammadu Buhari by internal and external forces to drop the idea of publicly naming the names of alleged looters of the national treasury and the amount each individual had returned.

There were, however, indications that the details of the money recovered so far could be made public today by the Ministry of Information. This may go without attaching a particular amount to any individual. It will be recalled that President Buhari had on the sideline of the Global Anti-Corruption Summit in London recently promised to name the alleged looters of the national treasuries on the democracy day, May 29, 2016.

He said: “So far, what has come out, what has been recovered in whatever currency from each ministries, departments and individuals, I intend on the 29th to speak on this because what Nigerians are getting from the mass media are the number of people arrested either by the EFCC, DSS. But we want to make a comprehensive report on the 29th.” Asked whether the looters would be named, the president said: “Yes, eventually, it has to be done because we want to successfully prosecute them. But you know you cannot go to the courts unless you have documents for prosecution. “People signed for these monies into their personal accounts, their banks gave statements that the money is there, when it came, how much and so on.”

But while making a national broadcast as part of the activities to mark his first year in office on May 29, the president did not announce both the names and the details of the recoveries. Instead, he passed the responsibility to the Ministry of Information. While the names were still being awaited this weekend, strong indications emerged last night that internal and external forces may have prevailed on the president from publishing the names. This was as two former presidents of the country, Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan visited President Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja. Saturday Vanguard gathered that former president Jonathan under whose watch the country was alleged to have been seriously looted visited president Buhari on Thursday night.

Jonathan who had been abroad but returned to the country on Wednesday night, quickly dashed out to the residence of the president at about 9 pm for a meeting. Similarly, former president Obasanjo at about 12:30pm also paid a visit to the president at the State House on Friday. Obasanjo, clad in a flowing gown (babaringa) and driven in an SUV visited the Villa in the company of Otumba Johnson Fasawe at about 1pm.

His meeting with Buhari held behind closed doors and the details were not made available to the media. The former president declined comments when he emerged from the president’s office. Meanwhile, Obasa-njo’s visit on Friday coincided with the visit of the some Anglican Bishops to the president. The clerics were led by the Archbishop of Abuja province, Bishop Nicholas Okoh.

Okoh later told the Journalists that the rampant killings attributed to the herdsmen and the bombing and vandalization of the oil pipelines by the Niger Delta Militants dominated their discussion with the president. A dependabe source who is also a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC told Saturday Vanguard in confidence that the government was seriously considering its position on the issue. He said that going public with the names may jeopardize the efforts of the government at recovering more funds as it would be difficult for other suspects to come forward with their own loots.

He however acknowle-dged that the govern-ment, through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the police and the Department of State Services and other anti-grant agencies had made tangible financial recoveries. He also stated that a number of other tangible assets in form of buildings had been forfeited to the government. The source praised the determination of the president Buhari led government in carrying a holistic anti-corruption war and cleansing of the system, saying that the country was actually heading for the worst as a few powerful individuals under the previous government were bent on allocating the national patrimony to themselves if not for the election of the president.

“I can confirm it to you that the government is seriously considering its position on mentioning the looters. The reason may be that it would stop others from coming out to return their stolen assets. “Many of these people returned their money in confidence. Some willingly did so. It may not be good revealing their names since they have cooperated. But I think the details of the money recovered would be made public either today or tomorrow”, the source said.

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