Itse Sagay, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), says the federal government is yet to charge any former president to court over corruption allegations in order to avoid “distractions”.
The administrations of ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan have been, at various times, accused of corruption.
With no corruption charges filed against the two leaders yet, some Nigerians say they appear to be “immune” to prosecution – unlike the case of the jailed former South Korean leader.
But in an interview with TheCable on Friday, Sagay said the social conditions and level of development in the country has to be taken into consideration before any president is dragged to court.
“If you charge a former president to court now, that is when people are going to carry arms,” he said.
“That is when they say ‘our son is being victimised’; all sorts of distractions will come in.”
He said charging a former president to court is an issue that has to be considered “very delicately” so that “you don’t add more crises to what we already have.”
“There is a level of discretion government has to use, so you cannot get everything you want,” he added.
Sagay, who was speaking on the sideline of the evaluation workshop organised in Abuja by PACAC to evaluate the whistleblower policy, also flayed the individuals Lai Mohammed, minister of information, accused of looting the economy, who are threatening to go to court.
He said what the minister released was a tip of the iceberg as he has up to a hundred names “in my own list”.
Sagay said: “When you find assets with a particular person which he cannot explain legitimately how he acquired them, it is presumed by our law that such person is a looter. So, there are many of such who have not even been mentioned.
“What the minister has done is just a tip of the iceberg. I have up to 100 of them in my own list and there are more. So, if they feel offended, let them go to court, they are all actually looters.
“They will soon be charged to court (when? “Progressively”). Unless some of them want to settle before they are taken to court, some are doing that. And settlement means massive return of looted assets.”
He also gave reasons why the anti-corruption fight has been strife with few convictions.
“There are a lot of prosecutions going on and the results will begin to show,’ he said, adding: “Previously, the cases were deliberately frustrated by all sorts of frivolous applications being made by senior advocates, and appealing every ruling given by the court.
“But that is not happening again because of the administration of the criminal justice act. So we are going to get results as time goes on.”