The Federal Government yesterday said there is no going back on the planned release of new names of alleged looters of public funds.
The list will be the third as two previous ones had earlier been released by the government, which were, however trailed by controversies.
Nigerians had criticised the lists for containing only names of members of the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
None of those named have been convicted with some of them being prosecuted and others not being tried for any offence.
Persons mentioned in previous lists as well as civic groups like the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have criticised the government for releasing the names.
However, in a statement issued in Lagos on Sunday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said since the release of the first two lists of the alleged looters, there have been overt and covert attempts to intimidate and blackmail the Federal Government into discontinuing the release of more looters’ names.
”We do not have the power to try or convict anyone. That is the exclusive preserve of the courts. But we have the power to let Nigerians know those who turned the public treasury into their personal piggy banks, on the basis of very concrete evidence, and that is what we are doing,” he said.
The minister said the government has always known that corruption will fight back and hence it is not surprised at the hiring of “hack writers” to attack the very idea of naming and shaming the looters, or the hysterical threats of litigation
The minister said the pressure being mounted on the government over its decision to expose looters is not unexpected, adding: ”We know where the pressure is coming from. However, the die is cast. We will not stop until we have released the names of all those who have looted our commonwealth. Those who have not looted our treasury have nothing to be afraid of.”
He challenged anyone who feels that he or she has been wrongly accused to seek redress in court, rather than engaging in exhibitionist sophistry.
Mohammed said it was the PDP that dared to challenge the Federal Government into releasing the list of PDP looters, hence the argument that the list only contained the names of PDP members falls short without proper contextualisation.
”We are not underestimating the desperation of the looters, but we wish to assure Nigerians who are justifiably outraged at the mindless plundering of the nation’s wealth also of our determination not to back down. Nigerians must know those who have wrecked the country and mortgaged the future of their children,” Mr Mohammed added.