Yesterday, the presidency came under criticism after making public the amount of loot recovered by the Federal government but failed to list the names of looters. According to the minister of information, Lai Mohammed, looters returned..N78billion, $185m, £3 million..
In response to the criticism, the Presidency, last night, defended its decision not to release the names of those who returned the funds. It cited the fact that while some of those who returned money were not in any way guilty of any offence, publishing the names could deter those contemplating returning ill-gotten funds in their custody. A top Presidency source, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard , anonymously, said
“This thing is ongoing and one of the reasons why we did not release the names was that without going to court we were able to retrieve all that amount of money. If you release names, other people who want to do voluntary returns will not do so. What we need is the money and not the names”, he stated. “Secondly, many of those who returned the money are not necessarily guilty. For instance, if my party gave me money to go and campaign in an election, how am I to know that that money was from an illicit source? “For instance if money is given to a newspaper for publication, you cannot criminalise the newspaper because it did not know where the money came from. If the newspaper returns the money would it be fair to publicise the name of the newspaper. “If you listen to the mob you will just end up in the ditch. The practical thing is that we want more money to come in. And we don’t even know what are the terms of the agreement by which anybody returned money. “So, for those who are saying that we ought to release the names, they got it completely wrong; it would be counterproductive. In fact, some people could go to court suing us for defamation and libel and then the whole essence would be lost and all people would be talking would be about the court cases. That is not what Nigeria needs now. What Nigeria needs now is to be focused and “we believe we have taken the right step in letting Nigerians know how much has been recovered, $9 billion without going to court”.
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