Former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, advised President Muhammadu Buhari, to invite suspected looters of the country’s treasury for talks.
He said that since the President is working to retrieve looted funds, he advised the president that it would be easier if looters were allowed to return their loot without castigating them publicly.
“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,’” he said.
The cleric urged President Buhari to invite those suspected to have looted government treasury “to speak to their conscience.”
He said that it would be difficult for the government to retrieve the loot as the suspects would use their financial resources to create legal hurdles for their prosecutors.
“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.”
When asked if such would be possible in a sanitised judiciary, he asked, “Is it sanitised?”
He said these are the areas the President ought to have started his anti-graft war by “sanitising and purifying” the judiciary first. “At least, you will know that three-quarters of the place is tight, and then you can start (the probe),” he added.
He further said that parents were no more disciplined as like in the old days.
“These days, they don’t care anymore. That is not right; that is not how they were 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-; 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?’ ”