Human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to speak on the recovered $43.4m, N23m and £27,000 (N13bn) in order to clear the controversy surrounding the ownership of the funds. Punch reports that the group, in a statement on Sunday April 16 by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said heaven would not fall if the government unveiled the real owner of the recovered funds.
The group argued that government could not afford to keep the citizen speculating on the real owner of the funds, stressing that the new whistle-blower’s policy must be matched with transparency. President Muhammadu Buhari SERAP spoke against the background of claim and counter-claim of ownership of the recovered $43.4m, N23m and £27,000 by the National Intelligence Agency and Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike. The money was recovered last Wednesday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at Flat 7B No.16 Osborne Towers, Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The agency on the following day secured a court order temporarily forfeiting the money to the Federal GovernmenMuhammadu Buhari,t. “Democracy abhors secrecy, and for Nigerians to be able to hold elected leaders accountable, they must have access to information such as on the real identities of those behind the Ikoyi cash haul. “This transparency is fundamental to the operation of the government’s whistle-blower policy, and inextricably rooted in the notions of good governance and the rule of law under the 1999 Nigerian constitution (as amended),” SERAP stated.
It argued that keeping the nation in the dark on an issue such as the ownership of the Ikoyi funds was counter-productive to government’s anti-corruption fight, because it encourages lack of accountability and gives the impression that there was something the government was hiding from the masses. It added: “Public scrutiny is a prerequisite for changing harmful, entrenched practices. Rather than operating the whistle-blowers policy as hidden, mysterious mechanism at the far edge of democracy, this government should make the operation of policy more transparent and accessible to the public.
Both transparency and accountability are necessary to uphold the rights of victims of corruption and ensure that suspected perpetrators are held to account. The ‘sky will not fall’ if the true identities of those behind the Ikoyi cash haul are revealed.”