President Buhari Urged to Release Names of Nigeria’s Treasury Looters

The Socio Economic Rights Accountability Project, SERAP, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to release the names of the names of public officials who looted the country’s treasury and to manage the funds recovered judiciously.

A statement signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni said, the recovered funds must be “spent to directly benefit Nigeria’s most vulnerable populations particularly to improve their access to quality education, healthcare including for children, women and the elderly, and regular and uninterrupted electricity supply. It will be a double jeopardy for victims of corruption if recovered funds are re-looted, as it was the case with Sani Abacha recovered loot.”

SERAP said recovering the loot wasn’t enough, and that the names of the looters must be published as well.

“Publishing the names of high-ranking government officials that have already returned stolen public funds will not infringe their right to presumption of innocence in particular and fair trial in general if the government can provide a caveat to make it clear that such disclosure does not suggest an assessment of the guilt of those named, and that they remain suspects until proven guilty by a competent judicial authority.”

“The authorities responsible for combating corruption cannot be expected to refrain from all statements, such as the fact that a suspicion of corruption exists. What is excluded is however a formal declaration that somebody is guilty without trial before a court of law.”

“The fact that suspected corrupt officials have returned some public funds makes the argument in favour of publishing their names even stronger. Open justice promotes the rule of law and publicity is a powerful deterrent to abuse of power and official misconduct.”

“Nigerians have the right to know how high-ranking government officials carry out their entrusted public functions and manage the public treasury, and whether or not they act in accordance with the code of conduct which Nigerians expect from their leaders.”

“A naming and shaming policy already exists in the international arena, for example, the FATF usually adopt a sanctions regime of ‘naming and shaming,’ against Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs) in its battle against money laundering,” it added.

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