How 55 persons looted N1.3tr in seven years, by govt

THE GUARDIAN Newspaper- Alifa Daniel and Nkechi Onyedika

IN just eight years, a hefty theft by public officials allegedly depleted the nation’s treasury by about N1.3 trillion. The money was stolen between 2006 and 2013 by 55 Nigerians.

Out of the amount, N146.84 billion was allegedly stolen by 15 former state governors, N7 billion by four former ministers while N14 billion was stolen by 12 former public servants both at the federal and state levels.

Also, N524 billion was allegedly stolen by eight people in the banking industry while 11 businessmen allegedly stole N653billion.

These disclosures were made by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday in Abuja. He said that the stolen funds, using the World Bank’s rates and costs could have provided 635.18kilometres of roads, built 20,062 units of two-bedroom houses, 36 ultra modern hospitals, 183 schools and educated 3,974 children from primary to tertiary levels at 25.24 million per child.

What 55 people stole 2006-2013

Categories No of Cases Amount Involved

Ex – governors 15 146,840,800,000.00
Ex- ministers 4 7,050,000,000.00
Ex – legislators 5 8,350,000,000.00
Ex- public servants 7 (Federal) 6,906,600,000.00
Ex – public servants 5 (State) 7,275,000,000.00
Banking industry 8 524,560,000,000.00
Businessmen 11 653,150,000,000.00
Grand total 55 N1,354,132,400,000.00

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said that it will always respect the rule of law in its efforts to prosecute those allegedly involved in corruption. It explained that some of those granted bail by the courts were rearrested based on other charges.

Mohammed said: “This is the money that a few people, just 55 in number, allegedly stole within a period of just eight years and instead of a national outrage, all we hear are these statements that the government is fighting only the opposition, or that the government is engaging in vendetta.”

The minister who vowed that nobody who had stolen public funds would go scot-free irrespective of their political, religious or tribal
leanings said: “ Whether you belong to the All Progressives Congress(APC), Peoples Democratic Party(PD), Social Democratic Party (SDP) or Labour Party, if you have stolen public funds, you must not go scot-free. We must go after them and block all the leakages.”

He urged the media to once again lead the campaign to sensitise Nigerians to take possession of another war – the war against corruption, stressing that there was the wrong impression that the campaign was partial.

“There is the wrong impression out there that the war against corruption is being fought only by the President or the Federal Government or the governing All Progressives Congress (APC). There is the erroneous impression out there that the war against corruption is a vendetta against the opposition, and that indeed it is one-sided. This is not true and indeed very nauseating. Irrespective of what anyone may say, President Muhammadu Buhari is leading this fight by example and right from the front.

“His unparalleled integrity, his uncommon love of country and his undiluted dedication to service all put him in good stead to wage this war, and we must all support him and own the war in order to ensure its success. This is not Buhari’s war. This is not APC’s war. This is Nigeria’s war,” he said.

On the $2.1 billion arms deal, Mohammed alleged that funds meant to fight terrorism were deployed to another fight which was that of keeping the then President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP ) in power at all costs.

He said: “So far, based on what we know, no one who has been accused of partaking in the sharing of the funds has denied receiving money.

“All we have heard from them are ludicrous reasons why they partook in sharing of the money. One said he collected N4.5 billion for spiritual purposes, another said he received N2.1 billion for publicity, while yet another said he got N13 billion to pay someone else for the Maritime University land.”

He continued: “Based on these revelations, should we now fold our hands and allow these people to go away with public funds? Is anyone thinking about the innocent soldiers who lost their lives just because they did not get the necessary weapons to fight the terrorists? What about the families left behind by these soldiers who were sent to their early graves because of the misappropriation of these funds? What about those who lost their means of livelihood after the terrorists overran their towns and villages? What of the millions of Nigerians, especially women and children, who are now living in internally displaced persons’ camps? Is it not clear that the cruel fate that has befallen these unfortunate people is a direct result of the misuse of the funds meant to fight the terrorists?”

According to the minister, corruption stifles economic growth, hinders the fight against poverty, leads to decay in infrastructure and reduces educational standards, lowers life expectancy, stunts the fight against maternal and infant mortality.

He also commended the media for heeding the patriotic call to duty at a critical time in the life of the nation and stressed the need for every arm of government to rise up to be counted in the campaign against corruption.

The minister urged the judiciary to uncover the tricks of allegedly corrupt individuals facing prosecution who come to court in wheelchairs or on crutches. He said: “They don’t fall sick until they are charged to court. The judiciary is critical to the success of the war against corruption. Unless this very important arm of government fully joins in waging this war, the pending cases of corruption will just drag on until they outlast this administration.”


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