Nigeria’s anti-corruption group, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, rose in anger on Friday against the country’s public looters who are on the verge of receiving “plea bargain” from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, warning that it could turn President Muhammadu Buhari’s war against graft into a huge, nauseating joke.
Mr. Debo Adeniran, the Coalition’s Chairman said in a statement to TheSimonAtebaNews that those who emptied Nigeria’s coffers and left most people in abject poverty should be severely punished “to serve as deterrent to other corruption criminals and the potentially corrupt persons in the country”.
The EFCC is said to have offered the immediate past Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Adesola Amosu (retd.); a former Chief of Accounts and Budgeting in Nigerian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Adigun; and a former Director of Finance and Budget, Air Commodore Olugbenga Gbadebo, to forfeit the 33 properties they allegedly bought with stolen funds.
With the offer by EFCC, the stage appears to be set for an apparent plea bargain arrangement to be formalised should the corruption suspects meet the conditions set by the anti-graft Commission, CACOL said.
But Mr. Adeniran argued that “the non-application of punitive measures against persons guilty of corruption would make the whole anti-corruption war a huge joke, a waste of time, energy and resources.”
From reports, part of the conditions for the plea bargain given to accused persons, who are penitent is forfeiting the properties and pleading guilty, after which the EFCC would appeal to the court to temper justice with mercy.
The anti-corruption crusader acknowledged the difference between penitent corruption criminals and recalcitrant ones, saying “it is correct to treat those who admit their guilt voluntarily and those that make the state to expend resources energy and time before their conviction is achieved differently, we agree to that extent. But our position is that those that opt for plea bargain should nonetheless not be allowed to go scot-free; they should hence be stripped of all their properties and monies as well as honours that could have been bestowed on some of them – they should be made to start life anew. All of their material possessions should be deemed as proceeds of corruption and therefore confiscated by the state. Then they can be told to ‘go and sin no more’.”
He added: “As for the recalcitrant ones of should of course be made to face the full constitutional and judicial consequences of their crimes. They should be put in jail according to size of their loots, even up to life imprisonment.”
CACOL has recommended life imprisonment for convicts that stole any amount above 1 billion naira. The Coalition had said the culprits should be made to work diligently for their own upkeep via whatever skills they possess previously or have been able to learn behind the bars.
“They should be used as objects to educate the young, the youth and all when they go on excursion to the prisons, seeing former corrupt leaders in such situation will certainly serve to deter the potentially corrupt. Furthermore, whatever assets traced to such convicts should be deemed to be proceeds of corruption and confiscated by the Nigerian state.’’