The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, at a meeting with newspaper editors in Abuja on Saturday has expressed shock at the level of corruption discovered by anti-graft agencies so far describing it as unimaginable.
While making reference to the recent discovery of billions of looted funds buried in a farm in Abuja, Dogara said he was shocked by the monumental looting of the treasury in the past.
The speaker added that he had never heard of such impunity in which people “stole for the sake of stealing,” condemning the new tricks of suspected looters to bury their loot in farmland.
He said: “But, if I am just arrested, charged to court and maybe some money recovered from me and, at the end of the day, nothing happens, a lot of people may not be deterred in the future from engaging in corrupt practices.
“If you look at the massive looting of the treasury (actually, I have been in government for quite some time), I never could have imagined the scale of corruption that we are witnessing right now, where people took lot of money running into billions and buried them in farms.
“As we are speaking now, he continued, they are recovering monies from someone’s farm somewhere around Abuja. It is very unfortunate where people stole money just for the sake of stealing.
“If you were the one in charge of fighting corruption, you would have even been shocked by the scale of the problem. I guess part of the problem we have is that the scale of the problem far outweighs the anticipation of the agencies. So, if care is not taken, we may not get things right in the process. They will have to keep their heads level to be able to be in charge of the fight and to do it effectively.”
The Speaker, who maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration remained committed to winning the war on corruption in the country, said the process of doing that had become a subject of concern to some people, especially concerning the operations of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“If you look at what it has done so far, there is even a discussion as to whether or not they are proceeding in the right direction and whether or not it is not time for us to sit down and do an assessment of how the fight has been, in view of the fact that in the last one year, I do not think there has been any major conviction.
“It has always been a case of this person has been arrested and detained and some things have been done or he has been charged to court and then the story ends there. If we continue like this, only God knows if we will succeed in fighting corruption.
“If the end is just to arrest people, charge them to court and thereafter nothing happens; no one is convicted; because conviction, even if you are not jailed, has a way of deterring people.
“The fact that you are carrying that negative appellation as a former convict has the potential to deter people from corruption in the future.
“If we are talking about corruption, the speaker continued, naturally, it will relate to those that had opportunity to serve in government. You will recall that, especially that the PDP had been in power for a number of years, more than a decade and if you were to weigh members of opposition that are in government now and had opportunity to serve, those that would have tendencies to engage in pilfering of resources, majority will come from PDP, except we are not being realistic.