Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Page 19

Groups, Presidency disagree on N5tn looted under Jonathan

Civil rights groups and the Congress for Progressive Change on Monday took a swipe at President Goodluck Jonathan over the rising level of corruption in his administration.

The groups, comprising the Voters Assembly and Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, stated this while reacting to a story published by Sunday PUNCH.

Sunday PUNCH had reported that N5tn had been stolen from government coffers since Jonathan assumed office on May 6, 2010.

The President of VA and former Chairman of Transition Monitoring Group, Mr. Moshood Erubami, accused the Federal Government of lacking the courage to prosecute and jail those who have over the years robbed Nigeria blind.

He explained that the challenge was no longer the amount involved but how to get the money back to repair critical infrastructure for the benefit of Nigerians.

Erubami said, “This has been difficult because the thieves are affiliated to the political office-holders who themselves have benefited from the fraud alliance.

“Above all, government lacks courage to prosecute their fraudster friends and jail them appropriately.

“The question of N5tn is an understatement. If you add up all stolen funds from 1999 to date without going back to the military era, you will be surprised at the quantum of money Nigeria has lost.”

Berating the Federal Government, the CPC National Publicity Secretary, Rotimi Fasakin,  said the party was not surprised that N5tn was fleeced from the public till under Jonathan’s watch, attributing this to what he called  “the impecunious state” of the nation and what it may be by 2015.

He said, “In CPC, we have always maintained that this is the most corrupt, most incompetent and most unpatriotic administration in Nigeria’s chequered history.”

Executive Director of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the best option left was to fire corrupt ministers in government.

He cited Halliburton and Siemens cases as examples of such cases that had been muddled up by government officials.

He said, “The amount lost to official fraudsters would have been in excess of N5tn but for covers provided by the state. The President himself has shown his tolerance for corruption by providing shields for ministers and other cabinet members under whom monumental corruption has been recorded.

“The FG can only help recover some of the stolen funds if the indicted officials, no matter how powerful or influential, are adequately punished.”

Also, a United States based activist, Smart Jaja, said the Umaru Yar’Adua administration of which Jonathan was an actor by virtue of his position as vice-president, was a product of a monumental fraud.

But the Presidency on Monday said it was a mere mischief for any individual or group to accuse the Jonathan-led administration of condoning corruption.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, made the Presidency’s position known in an interview with our correspondent.

Abati said it was not true that the President was treating corruption with kid gloves.

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