Editorial

Looters list dilemma

One thing has always marked the proposed release of the list of the so-called “treasury looters”, since three years now the present government came into power. That thing is ambivalence. The federal government doesn’t know whether or not to go ahead with publishing the list.
Calling the people in the list looters is an indictment which the federal government is not empowered to do before a competent court of law would declare them so. The government cannot defend the use of that word, pronouncing a person guilty before the court of law says so. That would be actionable. And it is an action the FG is bound to lose and pay heavily in damages. For this, the FG advised itself to withhold the list. This may be the main hindrance to the publication of the list. Another impediment is the sheer length of the list. We suppose it must be too long to be publishable. The government may also not be sure of the exactitude of the details of the loot.
But recently it released a few names as looters, which rendered it open to all sorts of accusations. Some said it is selective. Above all some said it has protected its members who looted.
The government is wrong however to publish the list piecemeal. If anything is worth publishing at all, it must be all the names.  Before that, the courts must have done their work and declared them looters.
The law must take its full course. For now the people who make this list are just suspects in the language of the law, to give them the benefit of doubt and for the accusers to be on the safe side.
The idea of publishing any list under whatever name is not totally unnecessary or pointless.
It goes to reassure anxious members of the public that taking public money away with impunity in such large chunks ought to be punishable by law. It gives the impression that government is doing something about it. It will also be a good tonic for a corruption-free society of the future.
So let’s have the comprehensive list any time sooner. Find an appropriate, safe name to call them. And the people should stand trial using a speedy process that would lend some seriousness to the matter. We have to make the war against corruption stop looking like a joke. That’s all the “looters’ list” tries ultimately to achieve.

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