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Thursday, 20 April 2017

Nigerians love corrupt leaders —Ikuforiji

Nigerians love corrupt leaders —Ikuforiji

Ex-Lagos Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji

A former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, has said the country is not moving forward because Nigerians prefer corrupt leaders to honest ones.

Ikuforiji, who was Speaker for 10 years before he was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over alleged money laundry charges, lamented that he had been “unduly and unnecessarily” persecuted by the agency.

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He spoke on Wednesday at an event organised by the Centre for Anti Corruption and Open Leadership in Ikeja, Lagos State.

 Ikuforiji called for a reorientation of the citizenry.

 He said, “Can you say anything wrong about a leader who, after corruptly enriching himself doles out N100, N1000 to people in your area? They will kill you if you do it. The people themselves are the cause of their problems. They don’t want leaders that are not corrupt.”

On his trial by the EFCC, Ikuforiji said he was not being tried for fraud, corruption or misappropriation of funds, adding that his trial was based on administrative issues.

“They call it money laundering. It does not mean that I was caught with some huge sums of money. They said I collected cash from the accounts department, instead of going to the bank to collect the money. Nothing more than that! I have been undergoing trial for five years just because of that,” he added.

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, urged Nigerians to pressurise the Federal Government to recover stolen funds stashed in foreign banks, adding that the amount being recovered through the whistle-blowing policy was insignificant.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria noted that the EFCC was losing some of its cases due to lack of funding, saying the agency deserved credit for recording over 200 convictions in the last one year.

He said, “The people who are being prosecuted have access to the best legal services. One of them even hired lawyers from the United States. That shows you how far they are going. Unfortunately, the experienced lawyers are not in the civil service and there is no funding for the EFCC.

“The British government spent over £20m to prosecute a former governor in Nigeria. Since 2000 when the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission was established, and the subsequent formation of the EFCC, till date, the Federal Government has not spent a fraction of that.

In the last one year, the present administration has spent $2m in prosecuting corruption cases.”

While lamenting that the government was not making efforts to recover looted funds overseas, he said he had written several petitions to the government without any result.

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He said, “Between 2011 and 2014, some oil and shipping companies stole oil from the country. In the Philadelphia Port alone, oil taken from Nigeria in three years is 60.2 million barrels, valued at $12.7bn.

So, let us blow the real whistle against the western countries who are saying Nigeria is fantastically corrupt when they are also keeping our monies unjustly.”

The Chairman of CACOL, Debo Adeniran, in his address called on all sections of society to join in the fight against corruption, saying delay in the justice system must also be addressed.

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