• Monday, July 15, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Lai Mohammed says 55 unnamed Nigerians stole N1.34trn in 8 years

businessday-icon

Minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, said on Monday that 55 Nigerians, who he could not name, allegedly stole some N1.34 trillion in the last eight years as he officially flagged off national campaign against corruption.

Mohammed, who addressed a press conference in Abuja, also dispelled reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had planned to proceed on 91 days leave to seek medical attention.

In addition, Mohammed said 15 governors out of this number allegedly looted some N146.84 billion and four former ministers allegedly stole N7 billion.

“Between the period 2006 and 2013, 55 people allegedly stole a total of N1.34 trillion in Nigeria. That’s more than a quarter of last year’s national budget. Out of the stolen funds, 15 former governors allegedly stole N146.84 billion; four former ministers allegedly stole N7 billion,” the minister, who insisted that the present anti-corruption fight that has been widely criticised as a ploy to hunt the opposition party, was not a vendetta against anyone.

“12 former public servants, both at federal and state levels, allegedly stole over N14 billion; eight people in the banking industry allegedly stole N524 billion, while 11 businessmen allegedly stole N653 billion,” he said.

Mohammed noted that the cost of these stolen funds for Nigerians, using World Bank Rates and Costs, means that one third of the amount could had provided 635.18 kilometres of road; built 36 ultra modern hospitals, at least per state; 183 schools; educated 3,974 children from primary to tertiary level at 25.24 million per child, and built 20,062 units of two-bedroom houses.

“This is the money that a few people, just 55 in number, allegedly stole within a period of just eight years,” he said.

The minister claimed that the funds meant to fight terrorism were deployed to another fight, the fight to keep then President Goodluck Jonathan and his party, the PDP, in power at all cost.

“Based on these revelations, should we now fold our hands and allow these people to go away with public funds?

“There is the erroneous impression out there that the war against corruption is a vendetta against the opposition, and that indeed it is one-sided. This is not true and indeed very nauseating,” he said.

On another note, the minister said the ministry had launched the National Security Awareness Campaign, and have seen a marked improvement in the way Nigerians perceive the war against terrorism. Thanking the media for their support, especially in this sensitisation campaign, he said Nigerians had taken ownership of the war against terrorism and were also giving their undiluted support to the military.

In a subsequent development on a visit to Rariya Hausa Newspaper, he urged the local newspapers as well as local language to help in the fight against corruption, as it was easier to get to people in there local languages than English.