HEDA says the top corruption cases that appeared to have been swept under the carpet suggest that some N900 billion may have gone into the covers of corrupt officials.
President Muhamadu Buhari has received a list 25 top corruption cases linked with stolen or mismanaged funds worth N900 billion.
In a letter delivered to Mr Buhari this week, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) warned that the country was sliding into the red light district of corruption and vice. The group also alerted that corrupt people were taking over critical institutions undermining the country’s anti-corruption profile.
In the letter titled “Re Awakening the Anti Corruption Drive” and signed by HEDA Chairman, Suraju Olanrewaju, the group said the volume of money linked to ignored corruption cases since 2015 when President Buhari assumed office was not less than N900 billion. The anti-corruption group regrets that many cases of corruption involving prominent people have been scuttled by government-appointed gatekeepers.
HEDA said the top corruption cases that appeared to have been swept under the carpet suggest that some N900 billion may have gone into the covers of corrupt officials.
“This only affects top corruption cases, yet we have many other smaller cases that have met institutional road blocks,” HEDA said in the letter addressed to the president.
The cases include but not limited to the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo, who was arrested during the 2015 General Elections by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly receiving $115 million in cash from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke; the Executive Director of First Bank Plc, Dauda Lawal, tried by the EFCC for allegedly handling the sum of $25 million of $153m rolled out by Mrs Alison-Madueke; former Comptroller General of Customs, Abdullahi Dikko, who was alleged to have stolen over N40 billion, but was asked to return N1.5 billion to the Federal Government, and former Accountant-General of the Federation, Jonah Otunla, linked to a N2 billion graft.
Others were the dubious payment of $16.9 million fees to two friends as new lawyers for the recovery of the loot traced to a former Nigerian Head of State, Sanni Abacha, after a Swiss lawyer hired and fully paid by the previous government, Enrico Monfrini.
Apart from cases involving cash, HEDA documented cases of influence peddling involving top government officials that used their seats to upturn justice in favour of politically exposed individuals.
HEDA listed official interference in the investigation of a multi-billion Naira fraud in Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NISRAL) through a letter ordering the EFCC and the ICPC, the DSS and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to halt investigating the financial misappropriation in NIRSAL.
There was also the attempt to reinstate Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) while the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, discontinued N25 billion criminal charge against Danjuma Goje without any justification.
HEDA also mentioned the allegation that the former Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, bought properties in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, using allegedly corrupt means as the Procurement Officer of the Nigerian Army.
The group said the cases are well known and recorded by Nigerians and foreigners against the Buhari government adding that they are considered as failure to match the president’s words and professed commitment against corruption with the actions by his government.
“We believe that the manner in which the above cases were handled, indirectly or directly, portray the Nigerian government and her mandate to eradicate corruption in bad light in the global space,” HEDA wrote in the letter.
Mr Suraju said beyond the return of the culture of impunity into governance and management of public resources, the few corrupt and compromised elements have allegedly taken over the reign of power in government and supplanted leadership of both institutions and reversing the anti-corruption gains.
He said Nigeria is facing fast declining reputation, as evidenced in the negative Transparency International perception reports in recent years.
The group said the self-professed cardinal agenda of the Buhari government and popular mandate of Nigerian citizens to fight corruption and restore the integrity of Nigeria amongst the comity of Nations face a huge threat.
HEDA said, “Your Excellency, whereas this agenda of fighting corruption was vigorously pursued, albeit with some negligible shortcomings and international sabotage by some of your appointed officials and aides, significant results were recorded by the government and overwhelming supports received from local partners and international stakeholders, resulting in return of recovered stolen assets and aggressive investigation of several cases of past corruption cases by anti-corruption agencies, particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Presidential Panel on Recovery of Public Property.”
HEDA is a leading global partner in the fight against corruption at the local and international levels. The group provided agencies of government with human resources and technical support in their accountability, good governance and anti-corruption mandates. Many of the group’s efforts led to the recovery of illicit funds from local and international crooks.
Mr Suraju said the latest letter was informed by his group’s position to assist Mr Buhari’s government if it still retains genuine interest to fight corruption as a guiding principle.