Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Cardinal Okogie Advises Buhari To Dialogue With Looters

Cardinal Anthony Okogie, the former president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to invite suspected looters of the public purse to a discussion rather than publicly criticising them.

According to The Punch, the former CAN president said it would be easier to allow them return to their stolen property without subjecting them to public castigation.

He said from a financial perspective too, it was cheaper to allow them return the loot rather than arraigning them before a court.

He said: “I agree with the National Peace Committee that the President should tread softly and should set criteria that he is going to use. Corruption is endemic in Nigeria. That is why they are asking for caution: look at it properly.”

Okogie said the looters would likely try to defend themselves with part of the stolen funds in court and possibly bribe the judge with the same stolen money.

“People like that, when they go to court, they don’t look right and left before they do things. If I have a man like that and I know he has the money, I will weigh the options; will it profit the nation if I take this man to court. If I take him to court, he is going to get a lawyer. The lawyer will be employed with part of the money I am looking for.

“The lawyer will now start to ask for adjournments and all what not. I may not get this money until after four years. And the judge too, in the mean time, is getting (part of the loot); you will not know. He won’t just adjourn anyhow.

“The lawyer will invite his brother (the judge) to come and get part of the cake until half of it will be gone. We have to look at the issue from that angle. And you may end up getting nothing.”

He said the president must sanitize the judiciary too if the anti-corruption war is to be trusted. He added that the family had a lot to do in the development of a child as the country would be affected if a child is not morally brought up.

“Look at the probe that is going on now, for example; how can one person manage to get (steal) one-point-something billion; not even million but billion, and very soon you will hear of trillions? Where did he get it from? That is how it is going on, and he is from a family.

“And if his conscience worried him, he will run to his pastor to say ‘I want to pay tithe — 10 per cent; this is my tithe.’ The pastor collects the tithe. Seeing that it is huge money, the pastor will ask him, ‘what can I do for you?’ ”

In a related development, the senior staff association of Nigerian universities urged President Buhari to probe Olusegun Obasanjo and not limit his probe to the immediate past administration.