The chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Itse Sagay in a recent interview with PUNCH newspaper revealed why it seemed like President Muhammadu Buhari cannot prosecute former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.
According to Sagay, despite the many talks from the present government on corruption, former presidents cannot be tried because the nation was not ripe for such yet.
“Speaking from a peripheral level, unlike in South Africa, Brazil, and other countries, we don’t have a history or culture in this country of prosecuting our former presidents. It will take a long time, when we’ve developed and become more mature, to do that kind of thing. Right now, if you touch a former president, the storm that it will bring will be so diversionary and disturbing that it will affect your capacity to do positive things for the citizens. In my own thinking, you have to leave them alone and go for those who carried out the act of looting,” Sagay was quoted by the paper to have said.
Sagay said the idea of media trial should be employed by the government so as to expose looters and gradually open the eyes and mind of the public. He said looters needs to be tired in the media so that people will know how they got their wealth and shame them should they appear in public.
“I don’t agree with him. Noise should be made because you cannot reduce us to this level of poverty and wretchedness and think the government will continue to hide your name from the public. Even if a person has yet to be convicted, let them be subjected to the odium of public contempt so that when you see his child driving a Rolls Royce, you should be able to point at him and say, ‘That’s a car bought with our stolen treasury that you are driving.’ I support media trial; let the looters be tried in the press. If they feel there is anything wrong with it, let them sue the government; they have the right to sue if they didn’t steal.”
When asked what will happened to the reputation of the alleged looters soiled due to the media trial if they are eventually found to be innocent, Sagay could not give a straight answer.
He said: “Why there should be media trial is that it’s not every corrupt person that will be convicted. Therefore, something should be done to mark them so that when they appear in public, everybody will know and say, ‘Here is another looter who is not in prison!’”
He also noted why the looters’ lists contained names of mostly members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“…I am not surprised that the list contains mostly the PDP members because they were the ones in charge of our common wealth before the APC came in. APC wasn’t the party in charge of our common wealth before.”
When asked what the fate to those perceived to be corrupt who left the PDP for APC citing a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro who was alleged to have taken part in the same $2.1bn arms scam that led to the inclusion of PDP members on the looters’ list as an example, he said there must have been a development which led to the omission of Obanikoro’s name.