Pressure is mounting on President Muhammadu Buhari to kick start his clampdown on oil thieves following his recent admission that he now has in his possession a list of such thieves.
Buhari, addressing Nigerians during his just concluded trip to the United States, had announced that Washington gave him the list.
He said that some members of the Jonathan Federal Executive Council stole as much as 250000 barrels of crude daily.
Several Western countries including the United Kingdom and France are said to have reached out to him to waste no further time in bringing the suspects to book. Nigerians are also itching to know the identities of the oil thieves.
A cross section of prominent Nigerians say President Buhari should make the names public forthwith and prosecute them.
Frontline lawyer,Professor Itse Sagay (SAN) told The Nation
yesterday that he shocked by the magnitude of the stealing.
“Before this fresh revelation, one was very disturbed when Okonjo Iweala, raised the alarm that about 400, 000 barrels were being stolen every day. To hear that the quantity is as much as one million barrel per day is something else,” he said.
“It shows the country went into a total rot under the last regime of President Goodluck Jonathan. They would have looted the country to bankruptcy within a year if they were not removed from office. We should be grateful that a disciplined and upright man has taken over to clean the mess and save the country.
“The punishments are not farfetched. They are already enshrined in our law books.
“We may ultimately have to resort to special court with specific time frame to decide the cases. The situation is very grave and we need to deal with it in an exceptional way.” Also shocked by the revelation is Chief Ladi Williams (SAN) who said: “the President should make public everything about it because the oil they stole belongs to the good people of Nigeria. The people have the right to know what is happening.
“Some schools of thought have suggested that the Chinese option should be applied in dealing with the suspects. It is a common knowledge that corrupt public officers in China always end up being executed. But here in Nigeria, we have the criminal and penal code. The suspects should be tried.
“The National Assembly has the power to establish a tribunal to try the suspects because the courts have too many cases already. From the tribunal, the next step should be Supreme Court because many of us are not happy with the way the Appeal Court has discharged itself. The Supreme Court has discharged itself creditably well.
“The suspects should be made to produce the money they realised from the sales of the stolen products. Any of them that parts with a substantial part of the money should be leniently dealt with.”
Elder statesman Tanko Yakassai said:“The president should not only tell us about the crime, he should go a step further to list the names of those involved in the criminal act and the amount involved. He should get them arrested and prosecuted. The truth is that these atrocities didn’t start today. They started way back when Obasanjo was the head of state.
“Key figures during that regime became instant multi-millionaires. There is not going to be any solution to the atrocities except the perpetrators are brought to book. I want to appeal to President Muhhamadu Buhari not to limit the probe to the Jonathan administration. If he really wants to get to the root of the problem, he should go back to the days of Obasanjo as military head of state.”
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Second Republic politician, Enechi Onyia, said the suspects should be made to face the wrath of the law.
“The government should not stop at that. They should also do everything possible to retrieve the full value of the money that the country ought to realize from the product from the suspects. The government should not be swayed by sentiments that people are likely to express about its position or action plan because in everything that happens in life, people would always express sentiments,” he said.
Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamio called for prosecution of everyone found culpable in the crime, saying: “The effort of the President in fighting corruption in the country is highly commendable. This is what Nigerians looked forward to when they voted for him and I am glad that he is living up to his electioneering promises. I want to do everything possible to make sure that the perpetrators do not escape justice.”
Former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Abubakar Tsav, expressed surprise at the revelation.
He said:“ “If the president’s statement is true, then, it is a serious matter. How can one person steal such quantity of crude oil? What are they using the money for when many people are hungry, homeless and sleeping under the bridge?
“ The crime is capable of collapsing an economy of a developing country. The perpetrators don’t mean well for the country and should be severely dealt with.
“I don’t support death penalty, but the offence is worth it. I will suggest that they should be sent to 25 years or life imprisonment. If the suspects are not fished out and dealt with, there would be a big challenge if Buhari is not re- elected after four years. If Buhari is not elected and another government that is worse than Jonathan’s come tom power, the country would be worse for it.
“If I were Jonathan, I would be ashamed of myself and refrain from making any comment. I think he should also be probed because it was before his very eyes that all this rots was taking place and he did nothing to stop it.”
The Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Lagos State chapter, Joe Igbokwe, said more sad revelations of the activities of government officials in the Jonathan’s administration are coming.
According to him, “What Nigerians are hearing and seeing now will be a child’s play when the full story of how Nigeria was pillaged and plundered under Jonathan is told.
“In the fullness of time Nigerians will get to find out that former President Jonathan’s tenure was a systematic regime of heists. I am believing God that President Buhari will have the energy, strength and power to go the whole hog in repositioning Nigeria in the comity of civilized nations. Nigeria is getting better and this, l believe because a good man is in charge.”