WHAT 55 PEOPLE STOLE (2006 -2013)
CATEGORY NO OF CASES AMOUNT INVOLVED
- EX-GOVERNORS 15 146,840,800,000.00
- EX-MINISTERS 4 7,050,000,000.00
- EX-LEGISLATORS 5 8,350,000,000.00
- EX-PUBLIC SERVANTS 7 (Federal) 6,906,600,000.00
- EX-PUBLIC SERVANTS 5 (State) 7,275,000,000.00
- BANKING INDUSTRY 8 524,560,000,000.00
- BUSINESSMEN 11 653,150,000,000.00
- GRAND TOTAL 55 N1,354,132,400,000.00
Fifty-five privileged Nigerians stole N1.34 trillion from the treasury between 2006 and 2013, the Federal Government said yesterday.
The period of the looting spans the last three administrations of former Presidents Olusegun Obsanjo, the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, who made the disclosure yesterday at a media briefing in Abuja, said all the 55 were in court, being tried in the last eight years. He urged the judiciary to speed up the cases.
Mohammed said: “The situation is dire and the time to act is now. For example, between the period 2006 and 2013, just 55 people allegedly
stole a total of N1.34 trillion in Nigeria. That’s more than a quarter of last year’s national budget! Out of the stolen funds, 15 former governors allegedly 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; while 11 businessmen allegedly stole N653 billion.
“ Now, what do these figures translate to in the actual sense? In other words, what is the cost of these stolen funds for Nigerians?
Using World Bank Rates and Costs, 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 two-bedroom houses.”
Mohammed also described the report that the current anti-corruption war was lopsided as “erroneous” and “nauseating”.
According to him, “there is the erroneous impression out there that the war against corruption is a vendetta against the opposition and that indeed it is one-sided. This is not true and indeed very nauseating.
“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.”
Mohammed explained that “ irrespective of your political, religious or tribal leanings, and not minding whether you belong to the APC, PDP, SDP or Labour Party, 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 Mohammadu Buhari likes to say, if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. There is no better way to say it.”
Citing the case of the $2.1 billion arms deal scandal, the minister said none of the people arrested ever denied partaking in the sharing of the money meant to fight terrorism.
“Let’s take the latest issue of the $2.1 billion arms deals as an example. One thing is clear: 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. So far, based on what we know, no one who has been accused of partaking in the sharing of the funds has denied receiving money. All we have heard from them are ludicrous reasons why they partook in sharing of the money. One said he collected 4.5 billion Naira 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, he posited that “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?”
The minister also said this corruption is not only found in the public sector but also in the private sector.
The only way out of this corruption mess, the minister said, is for all Nigerians to own the war as the cost of corruption has been very heavy on the country.
He also described the Judiciary as equally critical in the war against corruption.
Mohammed stressed: “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.”
He also appealed to both the bench and the bar on the need to lift patriotism far above personal interest for the good and survival of the country.
Responding to a question on the amount recovered by the government so far, Mohammed said it was too early in the day to make public what has been recovered in order not to jeopardise the process.
Asked why Buhari has failed to congratulate Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa on his victory at the poll, Mohammed said it is not the business of the President to be congratulating governors after every election.
He said it was a deliberate attempt not to drag the President into electoral matters, wondering what would happen should the court upturn the election.
The minister also explained that the President did same in the case of Kogi State Governor-elect Yahaya Bello. “This government is not in the business of interference. The President is of the opinion that the Presidency should be isolated from electoral matters,” he stressed.
On the budget, Mohammed said it was a matter of communication gap between the Federal Government and the National Assembly.
“There is no intention on the side of the government to be fraudulent,” he added. The matter, he said, is being resolved.
The minister also stressed the need to block all the leakages in the economy so as to be able to enjoy the dividends of democracy.
“If we fail to block the leakage in the economy, we will not be able to achieve what we want to achieve with the budget,” he said.
On rule of law, Mohammed said this administrator will always obey the rule of law, explaining that those re-arrested were arrested based on other cases.