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ABACHA LOOT: Presidency Should Apologize to Nigerians, International Community

By Eric Ojo

Following the recent withdrawer of the corruption charges filed against Mohammed Abacha, the son of Nigeria’s former Head of State, Gen. Sanni Abacha, a coalition of civil society groups working on anti-corruption and good governance in Nigeria has insisted that the Presidency should apologize to Nigerians and the international community for its pro-corruption stance.

The government had accused Mohammed Abacha of receiving stolen property worth N100.38 billion, an amount believed to have been stolen by the late Head of State during his tenure from 1993 to 1998.

Sani Abacha

former Head of State, Gen. Sanni Abacha

The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), had on behalf of the Federal Government, filed a nine-count charge against Mohammed, during President Obasanjo’s administration.

The group lamented that the withdrawal of the case by present administration therefore, raises further concerns about its commitments to the acclaimed fight against corruption, adding that it is a naked dance in the public place, especially when weighed against the arrogant and contemptuous manner with which the Presidency has told Nigerians during his media chat that, there is difference between theft and corruption.

The coalition which include, the Centre for Democrcy and Development (CDD), Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Centre for the Development of Civil Society (CDCS), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), National Procurement Watch Platform (NPWP), West African Civil Society Forum (WASCOF), Zero-Corruption Coalition (ZCC), Tax Justice and Governance Platform Nigeria and the Women Advocate Research & Documentation Centre (WARDC), equally recalled that the Jonathan administration has also pardoned the former Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha who was indicted for looting and stealing of public funds.

“The civil society is not happy with the ways and manners this administration is perpetuating immorality, impunity and lack of

transparency, which puts a question mark on the sincerity of the administration in battling corruption. This is all the more so because Mr. Mohammed Abacha’s case on corrupt enrichment and money laundering

is still on-going”, the group said in a statement issued over the weekend in Abuja.

The group further expressed its displeasure over what it described as national embarrassment that President Jonathan’s action depicts, noting that it also shakes the moral foundation of the Presidency as well as portends grave implications for the myriads of corruption cases in the country.

“Indeed, it has the potential to de-motivate Nigeria’s anti-corruption institutions – i.e. Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) – to effectively deliver on their mandate of fighting corruption. The

action also sends a wrong signal that perpetrators of such crimes are likely to get away with fraudulent acquired public funds, while further re-entrenching corruption such that will become an obstacle to national development and improvement in the lives of citizens.

“Much more importantly is the international opprobrium this action brings to Nigeria, with further consequences that the country is not genuinely committed to fighting corruption. Incidences of corruption are noted to be the forerunner of insecurity, poverty, unemployment and infrastructural decay which the country is currently facing”, the statement added.

The statement further urged the Presidency to immediately direct the office of the AGF to continue with the case against Mohammed Abacha with the view to recovering the stolen money. “We in the civil society are convinced that the focus of the whole dropping of charges is mainly because the ruling party is now trying by all means to favour those corrupt people who are decamping to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) from other political parties.

It equally urged the present administration to strengthen and re-strategize its international campaign to press Liechtenstein into

returning $185 million (38.85 billion) of ill-gotten gains linked to the late Gen. Abacha which is still being held in the tiny principality nearly 16 years after recovery proceeding began.

The statement also stressed the need for the Jonathan administration to work assiduously towards regaining its already battered image as a result of its unholy romance with corruption in order to regain the confidence of Nigerians who are disillusioned about the government’s commitment to the fight against corruption.

It further called on the international community to join Nigerians both home and abroad in condemning the present administration on its lone path to destruction and take some practical steps to demonstrate its anger towards the Nigerian government.





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