The leak of 11.5 million documents from one of the world’s most secretive companies, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, has grabbed headlines around the world.
Dubbed as ‘The Panama Papers’, the episode has blown a putrid global wind that has revealed the corrupt tendencies of the ruling class across the world in very bold relief.
Nigeria, represented by members of its extremely wealthy, ruling (ruining) class, unfortunately, could not help, but register its notorious presence within the global Circle of vampires and the incredibly greedy.
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For the discerning, the revelations were confirmations of what we had always known and have always asserted, but corruption has encroached so much on the psyche of a lot of Nigerians that, to them, corruption has become a way of life and thus they struggle with the reality of the fact that the ruling class in Nigeria have always been corrupt and has been able to maintain the stranglehold to power only based of the wealth they have primitively accumulated.
Governments over time have helped a great deal in institutionalising corruption in the country’s body polity and so have some Nigerians at their different workplaces, homes etc., but what do we expect of the followership when the leadership is ‘incurably’ corrupt and inept, after all, ‘the dominating ideas in any particular society are the ideas of the ruling class in that society’.
It is against the foregoing background that the Nigerian government’s attitude to the gruesome revelations from the Panama Papers leaks becomes worrisome and repugnant, as the attitude is apparently lackadaisical and indifferent. When in other places, heads of the ‘mighty’ have ‘rolled’ over the Panama papers leaks, (notably in Iceland where the Prime Minister was forced to resign from office following protests by Icelanders) the Nigerian government’s reaction or better put inaction and insensitivity over the Panama papers is unacceptable and reprehensible.
With such a lackadaisical or indifferent attitude on the part of government toward global issues like the Panama Papers leak especially when so-called leaders from Nigeria are mentioned in the scam, the celebrated anti-corruption drive of the government and the anti-corruption poise of the present regime may as well just be described as a ‘ruse’.
Consequently, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL is demanding that a special attention should be paid by the Federal government and the anti-corruption agencies to the revelations from the leaks with a goal of acting on them and with the view of verifying the facts; carrying out investigations, probing, prosecuting and recovering all the loots stolen from our Commonwealth that are hidden in the tax havens and offshore companies.
Additionally, those found culpable must be punished accordingly no matter how ‘highly’ placed or influential they are in the society. Those specifically mentioned; Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (Rtd), Dr. Bukola Saraki, Mr. James Ibori, Senator David Mark must be invited by the anti-corruption agencies; interrogated and prosecuted if enough evidence and facts confirm their involvement in the global scam revealed in the Panama Papers.
Dr. Bukola Saraki, the sitting Senate President and Chairman of the National Assembly with all his baggage of corruption charges is, once again, topping the charts in the Panama Papers. This is totally disgraceful and very tarnishing for the image of the country and calls for drastic action of government and good people of Nigeria. Saraki, who is currently facing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on a thirteen-count charge, on the bases of corruption and false assets declaration is reported to have continued receiving salaries even after leaving office as Governor in Kwara state and used state funds to pay for private properties.
With the addition of the Panama Papers indictment to his ‘multi-coloured coat’ of corruption, it is time for Nigerians to call for Saraki to step down as Senate President and as Chairman of the National Assembly pending when he has successfully cleared his name and clean the ‘smears’ all over him. If he fails to resign, Nigerians must rally and mandate their representatives in their various constituencies to commence his impeachment process of based on moral and ethical grounds. Nigeria cannot be respected among the comity of nations if the Head of the Law Making Body, the third in hierarchy in the leadership of the country oscillates between being a corruption criminal suspect in the criminal suspects’ box at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and as the Chairman of the National Assembly and while also ranking very high amongst those mentioned in the gruesome global scams activities revealed in the Panama Papers leaks.
The Nigerian Government must seek and ensure that James Ibori, after serving his term in the UK prison is repatriated to Nigeria to answer for the charges against previously and his involvement in the Panama Papers scam.
Finally, we commend the efforts of the Federal Government and the anti-corruption agencies for the efforts thus far put into prosecuting the anti-corruption drive. We call on government to work assiduously toward creating the enabling environment for the drive against corruption by facilitating the emergence of enabling laws that will remove encumbrances on the path of anti-corruption drive and by funding the anti-agencies adequately to enhance their capacity in battling the behemoth called corruption.
Name, Nail, Shame and Shun corrupt leaders anywhere, everywhere.
Debo Adeniran is the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL.