Speaking with PUNCH on Sunday, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, said that the decision not to name looters was more political than legal.
Recall that the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture on Saturday released an interim report on financial and Asset recoveries. Click here if you missed it.
“The way I see it, it is more political than legal. It is not party politics but about conduct. I believe the government feels that if you name names, those who are about to come out and also bring out whatever has been looted, would withdraw.
On the legal side, I don’t see the problem that is being talked about because once a person is going to be charged to court for corruption or illegally acquiring resources, there is no liability in announcing it.
After all, we have been seeing the names of all those accused and charged. So, the main reason is to encourage others, who are still hiding their loot and speculating what to do, to come out and hand over the loot so that the country can recover more of what has been stolen,” he said.
Sagay also said that an account had been set up for the stolen funds and that the federal government will soon announce what the money will be used for.
“An account has been set up for it and at an appropriate time, what is going to be done with the money will be made public. The amount that is available in that account will be announced and what will be done with the money will be publicly announced,” Sagay noted.
Regarding the funds frozen under the interim forfeiture, he said:
The Federal Government can’t touch it for now because certain cases have not been concluded and the forfeiture is interim because technically, the court can order the release to the owners if the occasion demands it but if it goes the other way, there will be a permanent forfeiture order and that is when the properties would accrue to the government and would therefore be used for the benefit of Nigerians.
The legal practitioner also added that the decision not to name looters might also have been in a bid not to embarrass some Nigerians who received government funds without knowing that the money was for arms or that the money was stolen. He said:
There are some people who actually received those assets and money without knowing that it was stolen or whose knowledge of the source would be very difficult to establish.
So, if you are in a situation, where you thought your political party had raised money legitimately and you were given an amount for the purpose of campaign, then you may have a strong case against any criminal charge like the newspapers, who have received money, but you may be willing to return the money having found out that it was illegitimately acquired.