An opposition presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on Wednesday said he would consider granting amnesty to corrupt persons willing to surrender their loot.
Mr Abubakar said this while appearing with his running mate, Peter Obi, at a live town hall programme hosted by ace journalist, Kadaria Ahmed.
Mr Abubakar said he would consider drawing a line during which corrupt former public officials would be allowed to return their loot without prosecution. After then, strong policies would be put in place to prevent and fight corruption.
Mr Abubakar said it would be more prudent to allow looters return their assets to Nigeria tax free and invest them in order to boost the country’s economy.
Host Kadaria Ahmed suggested that Mr Abubakar’s proposal could be morally problematic, especially since he has faced corruption allegations since leaving office as Nigeria’s vice president in 2007.
“If you are to go and be prosecuting these people, you will still be prosecuting them and would not get the money,” Mr Abubakar said. He suggested that a similar scheme under past administration yielded over $4 billion.
“Whether it is moral rectitude that you want to achieve or you want to see a fast development of your country,” Mr Abubakar asked rhetorically.
The position was backed by Mr Abubakar’s running mate, Mr Obi, who said it is better than to allow looters keep their plunder just by joining another political party.
Mr Obi’s statement appears a jibe at President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been repeatedly accused of tolerating corruption amongst his political associates while going after opposition members.
Mr Obi said the Buhari administration has fought elusive corrupt people at the detriment of the Nigerian economy, which he said has been haemorrhaging jobs since the government was inaugurated in 2015.
Mr Buhari has denied going after opposition members.
On Wednesday evening, reports emerged that Babachir Lawal. a long time associate of Mr Buhari’s who was fired in 2017 for alleged stealing of funds meant for the internally displaced victims of Boko Haram, had been arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Mr Lawal’s delayed prosecution despite overwhelming evidence had been a spectre on Mr Buhari’s anti-corruption drive for several months.