The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, a human rights organisation, on Monday faulted the silence of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over the Pandora Papers scandal, describing it as worrisome.
The organisation said the scandal has cast aspersions on government’s war against corruption in Nigeria.
The Executive Director and Representative of Transparency International, Nigeria, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, speaking under the aegis of CISLAC, said this during a press conference in Abuja.
According to him, the Federal Government must take urgent steps in investigating every person exposed and implicated in the report, irrespective of their political affiliation.
The PUNCH reported that the Pandora Papers investigation involved a cross-border investigative journalism report on alleged corrupt practices by world leaders.
Among the prominent Nigerians mentioned nincluded a former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; Kebbi State governor, Atiku Bagudu and his Osun state counterpart, Gboyega Oyetola.
The influential citizens were accused of flouting extant laws and legislations as they hid assets.
Rafsanjani said the report led credence to the continuing weaknesses in the Nigerian financial systems and regulatory deficiencies which he said have been at the root of the annual loss of $18 billion to illicit financial flows out of Nigeria.
He said all eyes were on the government to take appropriate action, adding that the President must ensure that the exposures do not go the way of the previous leaks – Paradise and Panama Papers, which were released in 2017 and 2016, respectively.
He said unlike other countries, the Nigerian government had neither instituted investigations nor shown any willingness to dismiss public officers and political exposed persons exposed in the reports.
Rafsanjani said, “We all know that if government has been taking necessary steps we won’t be loosing this huge amount of money but because the system is so loose and no effort has been put in place to block these leakages, we will continue to loose such amount of money.
“One would like to ask that why should the Central Bank with all the regulatory policies and framework allow this kind of huge money diversion out of Nigeria?
“There seems to be lack of understanding of what corruption is in this government. These revelations have attracted global attention and had made countries like United States, Canada took decisive actions against their nationals who were involved in the scandal but ours here were being awarded with government positions.
“In fact, we have seen cases where people who are facing criminal charges decamped to the ruling party and were seen taking photograph with the person leading the fight against corruption.
“The Pandora papers release is coming when Nigeria is reeling under the deleterious impact of the COVID-19 and the debt pileup that has continued to stoke serious concerns across political divides and among Nigerians and its development partners.
“Therefore, it is a meaningful opportunity for the Buhari administration to act decisively against corruption, aggressive tax planning, and other financial practices of politically exposed persons and their advisors and companies that threaten our country’s economic stability and corporate existence.”