Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture, on Monday, January 18, alleges that 55 Nigeria government officials and businessmen stole N1.34 trillion from government treasury within seven years
FIFTY-FIVE privileged Nigerians have been accused of stealing more than N1.34 trillion from the nation’s coffers from 2006 to 2013.
The period of the looting spans the past three administrations of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
Lai Mohammed, minister of Information and Culture, disclosed this at a press conference on Monday, January 18, in Abuja, urged Nigerians to join hands with the government to win its war against corruption.
Mohammed said if Nigerians failed to cooperate with the governing All Progressives Congress administration under President Muhammadu Buhari, corruption would kill the country.
According to the minister, the culprits who allegedly stole the N1.34 trillion include, 15 former governors, who alleged stole N146.84 billion; four former ministers allegedly stole N7 billion; 12 former public servants, both at federal and state levels, allegedly stole over N14 billion; eight people in the banking Industry allegedly stole N524 billion and 11 businessmen allegedly stole N653 billion.
Mohammed argued that using the World Bank rates and costs, showed that one third of the stolen funds could have provided 635.18 kilometres of road; built 36 ultra modern hospitals, that is one ultra modern hospital per state; built 183 schools; educated 3,974 children from primary to tertiary level at 25.24 million per child; and built 20,062 units of 2-bedroom houses.
“This is the money that a few people, just 55 in number, allegedly stole within a period of just eight years. And instead of a national outrage, all we hear are these nonsensical statements that the government is fighting only the opposition, or that the government is engaging in vendetta,” he said.
The minister, therefore, urged Nigerians to support the government in the ongoing war against corruption, irrespective of political, religious or tribal leanings.
“If you have stolen public funds, you must not go scot-free. Everyone and every arm of government must rise up to be counted in this epic war, and defeat is not an option if our country is to survive.
“As President Muhammadu Buhari likes to say, if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. There is no better way to say it,” he said.
Mohammed said the impression being created by a cross section of Nigerians that the war against corruption was a vendetta against the opposition, and one-sided, was erroneous.
The minister gave an example with the latest issue of the $2.1 billion arms deal, pointing out that, indeed, that the funds meant to fight terrorism were deployed to another fight – “the fight to keep then President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the PDP, in power at all cost.”
Besides, he said no one that had been accused partaking in the sharing of the funds had denied receiving money. “All we have heard from them are ludicrous reasons why they partook in sharing of the money,” he said.
For instance, he said: “One said he collected N4.5 billion for spiritual purposes, another said he received N2.1 billion for publicity, while yet another said he got N13 billion to pay someone else for the Maritime University land.
“Based on these revelations, should we now fold our hands and allow these people to go away with public funds? Is anyone thinking about the innocent soldiers who lost their lives just because they did not get the necessary weapons to fight the terrorists? What about the families left behind by these soldiers who were sent to their early graves because of the misappropriation of these funds?
“What about those who lost their means of livelihood after the terrorists overran their towns and villages? What of the millions of Nigerians, especially women and children, who are now living in IDP camps? Is it not clear that the cruel fate that has befallen these unfortunate people is a direct result of the misuse of the funds meant to fight the terrorists? Are these not the true costs of corruption?”
Thus, Mohammed appealed to the media to always bring to perspective what corruption had done to Nigeria, its people and image at the international level.
Apart from the media, he also identified, the judiciary arm of government as one of the critical players that would help rid the country of corruption.
“Unless this very important arm of government fully joins in waging this war, the pending cases of corruption will just drag on until they outlast this Administration,” Mohammed said.
Table below indicates what 55 people stole from 2006 to 2013:
|CATEGORY||NO OF CASES||AMOUNT INVOLVED|
|Ex-public Servants||7 (Federal)||6,906,600,000.00|
|Ex-public Servants||5 (State)||7,275,000,000.00|
— Jan 19, 2016 @ 15:40 GMT