Every day, there are reports about the arrests of criminals including robbers, kidnappers, fraudsters and so on. The regular activities of these criminals and their arrests are no longer a thing of surprise to many Nigerians. However, there is the need to do justice to the longstanding debate about the bigger thief in Nigeria and the place of law enforcement agencies.
Who is the bigger thief in Nigeria- Criminals vs Politicians?
In her history, there have been such daredevil criminals such as Lawrence Nomayagbon Anini, Monday Osunbo, Shina Rambo, Okwudili Ndiwe aka Derico and more. These men rained terror wherever they found themselves. Their activities, unarguably, gave even the Federal Government so much worry. These criminals have tied down a place in Nigeria’s history.
However, a host of Nigerians differ on who the bigger thief in Nigeria is. While some are quick to mention armed robbers, kidnappers and internet fraudsters e.g. Yahoo boys, others point at politicians and public office holders as the bigger thieves because of the humongous amount of money they embezzle or misappropriate.
Before Nigeria’s return to civilian rule, the name General Sani Abacha reminds many Nigerians of a dictator who was brutal during his reign. The late General would be remembered for human right abuses including the hanging of author and activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, who strongly protested the negative effects of oil exploration in Ogoniland. He was also responsible for jailing the late M.K.O Abiola and former president, Olusegun Obasanjo. The former would later lose his life.
Today, Nigerians joke that Abacha is the only late leader who remembers from Nigeria from his grave as he constantly sends the Federal Government funds (Loots).
According to a publication on The Punch, dated June 5, 2019, the United Kingdom seized 82 billion Naira fresh Abacha loot. This recovered fund, a fraction of all is loots, is much more than any amount stolen by a criminal in Nigeria’s history.
More importantly, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, expressed worry that the recovered loot may be re-looted by the present administration. This is coming on the backdrop of President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of Abacha as a saint, saying that the late General did not steal any money. Secondus stated, “It is sad that we continue to hear about the return of stolen fund by the former head of state.
“Funny though, the President had described the former head of state as a saint, saying he never stole anything.
“The current return of stolen money must be a source of worry to the President and the Federal Government that the man they had proclaimed a saint stole to that extent.
“I am, however, worried that there is nothing to indicate that the money will not disappear again.
“There is no monument on ground to tell us what repatriated cash was spent on. So, the recently announced stolen fund may end the same way.
Sometime in 2015, statements credited to the Abacha family has it that wife of the late head of state alleged that no matter how much of her late husband’s loot the Federal Government recover, they cannot be as poor as Aliko Dangote. A whole Dangote o; the first richest man in Africa and the 25th in the world.
Although the opposition party may have been quick to launch an attack against the ruling APC over the recovered funds, it is not enough to say that the PDP administration did not produce Abacha-like individuals in its 16 years reign.
Earlier in the year, the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, described former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, as the father of corruption in Nigeria. The former Edo State Governor alleged that Obasanjo tried to bribe the National Assembly to elongate his tenure to a third term when he was Nigeria’s President between 1999 and 2007. If the alleged ploy fell through, Obasanjo would have ruled Nigeria till 2011. Imagine that…
Also, in uncovering the faces of those who looted Nigeria thin, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said that three persons stole money in the tune of 3 billion Dollars under the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration… Only three person fa!
A statement made available by the VP’s media assistant, Laolu Akande, and published by The Punch on May 8, 2018, reads, “As the Vice President said, 3 billion Dollars was stolen in the so-called NNPC Strategic Alliance Contracts. The three persons are Jide Omokore, Kola Aluko, and the former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Maduekwe.
“The companies of Both Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko lifted crude oil and kept the proceeds. The total sum converted is in the excess of 3 billion dollars including royalties, taxes, and fee unpaid for the asset from which the crude was taken.” Na wa o, You say!?
But in all of these dramas, where does the EFCC stand?
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was birthed by the Obasanjo administration in 2003, three years after the Independent Corruption Practices Commission (ICPC) was inaugurated.
The EFCC was established to investigate and prosecute individuals guilty of advance fee fraud, money laundering, and other related offences. However, the EFCC, according to some Nigerians, has become a tool for witch-hunting opposition political party members and arresting only Yahoo Boys.
Nigerians in some quarters have called on the EFCC to concentrate their energy on, not just prosecuting Yahoo Boys, but go after politicians who steal a mouthwatering amount of money.
A recent online post about the activities of the EFCC sees Nigerians strongly rooting for the anti-graft agency to ridicule politicians who have kept the teeming population below the poverty line, just as they do to Yahoo Boys.
Remember African China’s song, Mr President. One of it line says “Poor man wey thief money wey dey see him face for crime fighter. Rich man wey thief money we no dey see him face for crime fighter…” That sums the way the law enforcement agencies treat various criminals in society.
There are also questionable deeds that have been attributed to the current administration.
Dajuma Goje, does the name ring a bell? He was a former Governor of Gombe State and a serving senator, arraigned by the EFCC over 25 billion Naira fraud. Goje was a leading contender for the presidency of the 9th National Assembly which was recently inaugurated.
But after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Goje stepped down for the current Senate President, Ahmed Lawan. Twenty-nine days after the meeting with President Buhari, the EFCC dropped its charges against Goje. You can think as you wish.
Meanwhile, in January 2018, Adams Oshiomhole, the APC National Chairman had remarked that whoever joins the APC becomes a saint, irrespective of the offences these persons committed.
In his words, Oshiomhole said, “I am told that there are a lot of very senior people from PDP who want to join forces with President Buhari to take the broom and sweep away PDP and ensure that APC continues to preside all over Nigeria.
“We have quite a number of other leaders who have, we have quite a number of other leaders who have come. In fact, if you have joined APC, all your sins are forgiven.”
Uche Secondus, PDP’s National Chairman confirmed the truth in Oshiomhole’s statement saying, “And the corruption that we put on our neck, we have shed all the corrupt party leaders to the APC, and I can say it. So, the PDP is free of corruption; APC is the mother of corruption for the past 16 years.”
These statement attributed to Oshiomhole sends a strong signal that Nigeria is close to a pitfall and if urgent actions are not taken, Nigeria will be damaged beyond repair.
Again, who is the bigger thief? A Lawrence Anini, Shina Rambo, Yahoo boys or the politicians who steal billions, yet, the 30,000 Naira minimum wage is yet to be implemented.
In case you do not know, Dangote’s Refinery is near completion. That is one man building an entire refinery. Meanwhile, there have been successive governments that promised to build refineries and repair the dead ones. This is 2019, nothing has been said or done. But guess what, many of these leaders own oil blocks across the country.
Without making a case for other criminal elements in Nigeria, choose well, when you want to choose the bigger thief.
As for the EFCC, ICPC and other relevant agencies, it is time to show Nigerians that they possess the capacity to see.