Who owns the monies?

The late Sonny Okosun it was who crooned: “Who owns the land? I want to know who owns the land. Papa’s land; Papa’s land” Of course, Okosun’s was a rhetorical question because everyone knew who owns the land in question, that is, southern Africa, which at that time, was under colonial rule.The land belongs to the Black race but was taken over by the White colonial masters. The last of those countries, South Africa, got its Independence in 1994 and the whole of the region is now ruled by Black leaders.

What we are up against in this country at the moment is not who owns the land as that is settled but who owns the monies being found or picked up all over the place by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In Kaduna and Lagos especially, billions of Naira had reportedly been uncovered and recovered by the EFCC. Whistle-blowers, we have been told, have tipped the authorities about the finds. While the uninformed have been elated about these discoveries, the discerning public has asked troubling questions.

Who are the owners of these monies? Why were the monies abandoned? How did the EFCC get to know about their exact locations? Why all these sudden discoveries immediately after the Senate’s second rejection of Ibrahim Magu as the EFCC boss? And why the opaqueness surrounded the recovery of these monies? The suspicion is that there is more than meets the eyes with the timing of the discoveries. It is like they have always known that these monies were there but have suddenly decided to go after it now for reasons best known to them. There is also the suspicion that the owners of these so-called recovered monies are known to the authorities but they are deliberately shielding them. Nigerians desire, deserve and demand full disclosure.

How can you not know who did what at an international airport like Kaduna’s? And at a time like this when all international flights have been diverted from Abuja to Kaduna? In fact, those who trucked that consignment into the airport should have been arrested within the airport vicinity; what if it were bomb that they trucked into the airport? Is that how they would have got it right up to the screening point and then escape arrest? The purported discoveries in Lagos were no less intriguing. The first of such discoveries in a so-called bureau de change office, left unused for years, is ridiculous. What kind of a person leaves billions of Naira in an unused office for years without going back to check on it? Is this a mark of how stinking rich such a person is? How can we not know the identities of the owners of the bureau de change and the owners of the facilities? How can neighbours not know who owns the office? Certainly, we have not been told the truth on this matter.

The one that has generated much heat is the loot discovered in an apartment in Lagos. Apart from the humongous amount involved, the attempt to cover up the real owners of the monies has generated a lot of heat. Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, supported by his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayo Fayose, is alleging that the money belonged to Rotimi Amaechi, former governor of Rivers State and now Minister of Transport in the Muhammadu Buhari administration. Wike had, before now, accused Amaechi of stealing Rivers blind as governor; in the same manner that the Fayose administration has been pointing accusing fingers at former Ekiti governor and now Minister of Solid Minerals and Development, Kayode Fayemi. Wike had made allegations and set up panels that Amaechi refused to appear before to clear his name. So there is a background to the allegation that Wike is making, liking Amaechi to the discovered loot.Those who are asking Wike to produce evidence miss the point. Why, I must ask, is Wike the only governor laying claim to this money and not Lagos State where the monies were discovered or my own native Ondo? As they say, there can be no smoke without a fire. There must have been some information at the disposal of Wike before he can make the accusation that the monies belonged to Amaechi.

The beautiful thing about corruption is that it can never be perpetrated single-handedly. There must be accomplices and when relations go sour, as they often do, between partners-in-crime, one or more accomplices will squeal on their comrades. That is the logic behind whistle-blowers. There is always someone who is aware of a crime that has been committed, either as a partaker or as a discrete watcher or third eye. The block of apartments in which the latest discovery was made has an owner; who is he or she? The owner of the property must also know the person or persons who rented the apartment: Who is the tenant?

Perhaps more absurd is the purported claim by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) that the monies belonged to it. How can this possibly be? We heard of one-time illiterate governor of Kano State, Barkin Zuwo, keeping lorry-loads of “gofment money in gofment house” but how can NIA keep government money in a private apartment? From whom did they rent the apartment? For how long have they put the monies there? Who gave approval? And, if I may ask, whatever became of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of this administration if an agency of government can keep billions without the TSA tracking? And if an agency of government can keep this huge amount outside of the banking system, what becomes of the cashless policy of the same government?

This was how millions of dollars were stuffed in briefcases and flown to South Africa during the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, ostensibly to buy arms, and the money was seized by the South African authorities. By the way, have we recovered that money?


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