Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina has defended President Muhammadu Buhari for not disclosing the identities of those who have looted public funds in the past.
Adesina noted that the President should be commended for his action despite recanting on his ealier promised to publish the names of looters alongside the amount they stole.
The President‘s spokesman said the current government demonstrated strength, stressing that disclosing the names will discourage others from returning their loot. He said this while speaking on Sunday Politics, a programme on Channels Television.
According to Adesina, “Well, the president said he will mention names, but even if he erred, it’s better to err on the side of caution. It’s always better to err on the side of caution. It (naming those who returned stolen assets) came up and legal opinion was that it was premature to mention those names.
“So, for me I think it’s a demonstration of strength for the president not to have mentioned those names again, contrary to what he said earlier. It shows that he buys into the opinion of other people. Legal minds came up to say: ‘Don’t mention these names of these people yet’. It would have implications if you do so, and he bought into it.
“I think rather it’s something that we must commend and applaud rather than condemn. These recoveries were made from May 29 last year to May 25 this year. A large number of them are fresh loot, outside the Abacha loot.”
Noting that if Buhari had gone ahead with the earlier plan it could have backfired, Adesina said, “What if at the end of the day the court decides that those people are not guilty and that the money should be returned, then you will have legal cases on your hands and that will constitute distraction to the government.
“At the end of the day, we will lose monies that would have been recoverable for the country. What of the situation of those who want to return monies… because the government has been precipitate in mentioning names, those funds will not be returned to the coffers again.
“I think it is better to err on the side of caution and that was why eventually the president agreed with those who said the names should be withheld.”
Adesina said the recovered loot may be used as part of finance to fund the deficit in the 2016 budget.
“If you look at the 2016 budget, you will see that it anticipated this eventuality. There is a provision, I think about N380 billion which say would be provided for from recovered funds. So the budget anticipated this.
“When he visited the UK in February, the president said much of the money that would have been borrowed to fund this budget may not be borrowed again because of recovered funds and monies that were housed through the Treasury Single Account (TSA).”