Nigeria: Past Leaders Stole $500 Billion

Daily Champion (Lagos), Malachy Uzendu Abuja, Oct. 18, 2006

ECONOMIC and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu Monday appraised past leaders’ involvement in corrupt practices since independence, declaring that the nation lost over $500 billion to their financial profligacy.

Mallam Ribadu who specifically flayed corruption in public offices, lamented that so far only one per cent (about $5 billion) of the loot has been recovered.

This revelation is coming even as Human Rights bodies have advised the EFCC to always follow due process and observe human rights in the discharge of its duties.

Ribadu who spoke in Abuja at the launch of Fix Nigeria Initiative, added that through the 1998 Central Bank computations, “N200 billion was lost in one of the most spectacular elites plundering of citizen’s resources via the failed bank phenomenon.”

Appraising EFCC activities in the past three years, Mallam Ribadu said the commission so far received about 8,610 petitions out of which 2,103 cases are still under investigation.

He disclosed that more than 2,000 persons have been arrested while 306 cases involving other suspects are being prosecuted by the commission.

Of the $5 billion so far recovered, Mallam Ribadu noted that several houses, land, luxury cars, airplanes and oil tankers have been confiscated in 90 convicted cases.

“Corruption in Nigeria takes on the complexion and reality of a systematic and endemic nature and it can dissolve and rupture an otherwise thriving state.

“Without seeking to befog you with statistics, corruption has cost us 220 billion pounds ($500 billion) of development assistance that has been stolen from this country since independence by our past leaders.

“That is to say that the money that past Nigerian leaders have stolen in a 40-year time could have recreated the beauty and glory of western Europe six times all over in this country.

“By 1998, the Central Bank had computed that N200 billion was lost in the failed bank phenomenon,” he stated.

The EFCC boss who gave insight into what commission achieved said that it had recovered N18 billion from unnamed former head of law enforcement agency and another N50 billion from a state governor.

“The Fix Nigeria Initiative is therefore conceived to address this reality that the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies can only effectively fight and eliminate corruption through the active participation of the community and the broad sections of the civil society organisations (CSOs), the private sector, the faith community and all of you to become active agents in the fight against corruption,” he added.

The director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Dr. Jubril Ibrahim, even though he applauded the fight against corruption, warned that rule of law and human rights must prevail.

Drawing inferences from happenings in Ekiti and Plateau states, he accused EFCC of adopting extra-legal procedure in the pursuit of its agenda.

He noted that in order to fix the ills of the country, the commission should follow due process in clandestinely sponsoring impeachment of governors.

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