The controversial minister of Information and Culture, has revealed the reason why President Muhammadu Buhari reneged on his promise of disclosing the identities of looters.
Speaking on Sunday evening, hours after President Muhammadu Buhari’s Democracy Day broadcast, the outspoken Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, revealed that the president did not release details of looted asset, recovered from corrupt persons, due to ‘legal reasons’.
“Yes, he initially said so (that he’ll give specific details about recovered loot), but he was advised against doing so for legal reasons,” he said.
Recall that President Buhari had on May 14 in London, promised to provide specific details of stolen asset by former public officials.
“So far, what has come out, what has been recovered in whatever currency from each ministries, departments and individuals, I intend on the 29th to speak on this because all Nigerians are getting from the mass media because of the number of people arrested either by the EFCC, DSS. But we want to make a comprehensive report on the 29th,” Buhari had said.
But during his nation-wide address on Sunday morning, the President failed to make the details public. Instead, he said, the Information Ministry would soon release relevant details.
“The processes of recovery can be tedious and time consuming, but today I can confirm that thus far: significant amount of assets have been recovered. A considerable portion of these are at different stages of recovery. Full details of the status and categories of the assets will now be published by the ministry of information and updated periodically,” the president said in his address.
While speaking at ‘The First Year’, a programme organised by Channels Television to mark the one year anniversary of the current administration, Lai Mohammed said the list would soon be available. “We will get the list but not today; before the end of the week. But I must say not with the names,” he said.
As expected, the development immediately drew the ire of Nigerians, who became outraged that their leader has once again failed to live up to his words, but Lai Mohammed said his principal has the right to reverse himself. “Of course for obvious legal reasons. The president said he was going to release the amount recovered and where the recovered assets are.”
However, he said the administration will publish some details of recovered loot, but a far cry from what the president initially promised.
While realizing that his argument was not convincing, Lai Mohammed said: “Yes he initially said so (naming looters), but he was advised against doing so for legal reasons. Of course, he has a right to reverse himself on that.”
But the claims that legal consequences prevented the president from announcing the names appear to be in sharp contrast with what the president did in January when he released the names of former military officials, private individuals and companies.
Recall that on January 15, Buhari published up to 41 names of former services chiefs, firms and individuals said to be responsible for over $2bn arms procurement fund that was unaccounted for.