Sunday, September 16, 2012

‘Most ex-governors should be in jail’

EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde

A chieftain of the All Nigeria Peoples Party has said over 65 per cent of former governors would have been in jail if the Federal Government had been committed to the fight against corruption.
Former National Vice-Chairman of the ANPP, Chief Asukewe Iko-Awaji, expressed concern that only one former governor had been convicted and jailed for stealing public funds since the inception of the current democratic dispensation in 1999.
Iko-Awaji recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission listed more than 31 former governors that were suspected to have misappropriated huge money belonging to their states, adding that none of the governors had been prosecuted.
The ANPP chieftain, who spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH in Port Harcourt on Friday, observed that most of the ex-governors, who were formerly on the radar of the EFCC had been allowed to walk away with their loot.
He warned that the fight against corruption would be meaningless if the judiciary in the country was not bold enough to properly interpret the law and jail errant former public official.
Iko-Awaji said, “Going by the rate at which governors steal public money from 1999 to date, more than 65 per cent of those who served and  those still serving as governors should be in jail.
“Unfortunately, it is only one governor that was found guilty and jailed abroad. It shows the judiciary and the anti-corruption agencies in the country have a lot to do to ensure that public office holders who stole from the nation’s coffers do not go scot-free.”
He called on the National Assembly and the EFCC to do away with the Immunity Clause and plea bargain respectively in order to succeed in the fight against corruption.
Iko-Awaji argued that failure to make former governors account for their stewardship would not serve as deterrent to their successors, who might have plans to defraud their states.
He said, “For the incumbent governors, they always come up with huge budgets, but at the end of the year, there is nothing to show for these huge budgets. It is only in Nigeria that governors and other leaders don’t retire budgets.
“In a proper democracy, a governor or any public office holder should give account of what he spent while in office. Is it not worrisome that former Governor James Ibori, who was seen as a saint by the judiciary, was eventually jailed in London?”


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