Updated: March 1, 2021
The Nigerian Center for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has condemned a call to forgive all Nigerian mega looters if they returned the stolen funds and assets.
“As much as we respect and recognize Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state’s rights to his freedom of expression and rights to hold views on any issue, we strongly disagree with his view on amnesty for deliberate treasury looters as he made known during the flagging off a one-week Anti-corruption, Ethics and Integrity Training for Ebonyi State Local Government officials, in Abakaliki, earlier in the week,” CACOL said in a statement to Today News Africa in Washington DC.
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“However, it becomes imperative for us to critically consider the suggestions being canvassed, not just because of the personality behind the call, but also for the reason of monumental havoc Corruption has wreaked on many Nigerian homes and individuals, the forum where the call was made and its particular context,” the group added in the statement issued by Adegboyega Otunuga, the anti-corruption group’s Coordinator for Media and Publications, on behalf of the Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he noted,
“As an anti-graft organization, CACOL is always of the opinion that corruption is better tackled through the instrumentality of prevention or detection at the point of temptation of committing the offence.
“It is clear that where you have so much funds or resources of the state vested in a few individuals with little or no checks at dissuading corrupt diversion or cornering same resources, such temptations are most likely to be prevalent, so that the issue of ignorance or poverty with the politically-exposed may not arise.
“It is a known fact that even as a country that harbors some of the world’s poorest of the poor, Nigeria’s public office holders, at all levels, earn more than most of their counterparts, worldwide, while majority of the people live on less than 3 Dollars (N1,000) per day,” CACOL said.
The group added: “Their entire earnings become mind-boggling when you add diverse and inexplicable allowances, etc. So, the argument of poverty flies when applied to those the masses have entrusted leadership position to. This is without any prejudice to the fact that intending public officials need to apprise themselves of what they are in government for and the various laws of the land as they relate to what constitutes corruptive enrichment and diversion of public funds, which we are aware is an on-going education even as this workshop underlines. The proviso being that such knowledge should make the office holder to apply whatever resources in his/her care to the benefits of the people he has sworn to protect and serve.”
The CACOL Head added: “Truth is, as they usually say, ‘prevention is always better than cure’ and in same vein, many advanced societies have employed the use of technology to prevent corruption and nip it in the bud, since it was always costlier to redress the act when the harm had been done. This is one area we believe the government and the anti-graft agencies, i.e. EFCC and ICPC would do well to seriously consider. We also agree that the mechanism for plea bargaining or amnesty could be employed and strengthened. But this would be more acceptable and fair to the generality of the people who serve as the major casualties of corruptive attitude as they miss on good things of life and get their offspring seriously encumbered for same reason of prevalent corruption. Rather than advocating for blanket amnesty for treasury looters with no remorse or willingness to confess and return his loot and name his accomplices, such culprits should be made to forfeit whatever proceeds or anything in place of what has been stolen to serve as a deterrent and recompense for those corruptive acts.
This is because, no society in the world survives on encouraging or lapping crimes. Societies could better survive by encouraging developmental programmes that take majority of its people out of poverty, evolve measures that not only make it impossible to pilfer funds, but encourage efforts at retributive justice that punishes crime and make future attempts very unattractive to would be deviant. In a nutshell, those who desire amnesty much show enough causes for deserving such while proceeds of crime are not allowed to be run away with for future enjoyment where they have not sown.”