Anti-graft: Don’t pamper looters with soft landing, Timi Frank warns Tinubu


A political activist and former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank, on Friday, July 7, 2023, has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu not to entertain, habour or negotiate soft landing deals with corrupt ex-government officials, who have looted the nation’s commonwealth.

According to him, the zeal of the president in going after thieves during his early days in office seems to have declined or completely dead.

Frank in a statement in Abuja told Tinubu to increase the speed of his drive to make corrupt officials account for their stewardship.

He said it was necessary to avoid making the arrest and investigation of the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele and chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), AbdulRasheed Bawa, vendetta-driven.

He also called on the president not to reward ex-governors and ex-ministers with corruption cases or criminal allegations against them by the anti-graft agencies with fresh appointment “as doing so would make his anti-corruption drive a mere child’s play.”

Frank called on the security agencies executing the anti-corruption battle under Tinubu to extend their probe to the oil and gas sector by ensuring that those who fraudulently benefitted from fuel subsidy regime and bogus daily PMS consumption in the country, are made to refund the people’s money they looted in the process. 

He said, “From all indications, your (Tinubu’s) government is negotiating with looters and that is the reason why up till now we have not seen any new action against looters after the arrest and detention of Emefiele and Bawa. 

“Many Nigerians were happy and commended the actions you took on these arrests but at this time we think a lot of the people who looted the country under ex-President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration would have by now been arrested and being prosecuted in court. 

“Unfortunately, no further action has been taken to bring them to justice and information at our disposal show that a lot of these looters are negotiating with your government for soft landing. 

“Most importantly, the zeal with which you started the fight against corruption which Nigerians applauded with the hope that you have come to surprise the country by genuinely fighting corruption has clearly died down and probably may not happen again.

“If care is not taken, it might turn out that Emefiele and Bawa were just victims. In other words, from your body language so far, we don’t think you are ready to genuinely continue the fight against corrupt government officials but only after those perceived not to have supported your bid to emerge as president. 

“Otherwise, there are lots of looters out there, which despite the plethora of evidence of corrupt tendencies against them, are going around freely and it is very likely that nothing will happen to them anymore.”

Frank, who is the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) Ambassador to East Africa and Middle East, decried a situation where former political office holders with known corrupt tendencies are now finding their way into Tinubu’s cabinet. 

He said, “It is very clear that most of them might be appointed into your administration as ministers or other key government positions, which would be tantamount to rewarding looters.

“For instance, it is highly unbecoming that Senator Godswill Akpabio, with all the atrocious actions he took as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs in emasculating and annexing the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to frustrate development of the region as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, has now been brought back and rewarded with the position of President of the Senate, while Ms Hadiza Bala-Usman, who was sacked over corruption allegations as Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is now Special Adviser to the President on Policy Coordination.

“Most likely, Nigerians will see more known looters rewarded with juicy positions in his cabinet. 

“Besides, former governors and ex-ministers that should have no role in the present administration due to series of petitions against them at the EFCC but that are perhaps pushing for positions, include former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva (now angling to be re-elected as governor in Bayelsa State), former Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari, former Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, former Personal Assistant to ex-President Buhari, Tunde Sabiu and former Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.

“Others are former Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hammid Ali, Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamo; former Managing Directors and Sole Administrator of NDDC as well as former Service Chiefs appointed by Buhari.”

According to Frank, the poor masses are today suffering from hardship occasioned by Tinubu’s policies like fuel subsidy removal, while those who fraudulently benefited from subsidy regime should be allowed to go scot free. 

“Since the beginning of this administration, innocent Nigerians are the ones suffering and unfortunately they are being told to be patient in their excruciating miseries by the government. 

“How long would the poor be patient while those who looted their wealth are walking free and enjoying their loot? Now the poor masses are suffering from skyrocketing cost of living because of the removal of fuel subsidy and imminent increase in electricity tariffs. 

“Going by the zeal Tinubu displayed in his first few days in office, Nigerians believed that by now many of those who abused their offices and corruptly enriched themselves during past administration would have been arrested and being probe by now. 

"But it is clear that it is only two persons that have been arrested and undergoing investigation, meanwhile there are so many of them out there,” he said.

He reminded the president that Nigerians and the members of the international community are watching to see if he is genuine in his anti-graft drive or just flying kite with Emefiele and Bawa.

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