The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Lagos on Sunday vowed to release more names of looters in previous administrations.
Mr. Mohammed had released two sets of lists containing only names of members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) believed to have stolen public funds.
The federal government however omitted names of former members of the PDP who defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Minister however noted that since the release of the first names, there have been overt and covert attempts to intimidate and blackmail the federal government.
“Hack writers have inundated the social and traditional media with articles casting aspersion on the lists, while some newspapers have even resorted to writing editorials against the federal government over the release of the lists. Most of the write-ups have accused the government of politicising the anti-graft war by releasing the lists. We strongly disagree with them.
“We do not have the power to try or convict anyone. That is the exclusive preserve of the courts. But we have the power to let Nigerians know those who turned the public treasury into their personal piggy banks, on the basis of very concrete evidence, and that is what we are doing,” he said.
“All the fuss about politicising the anti-corruption fight is aimed at preventing the government from releasing more looters’ names and at the same time muddling the waters. But 1,000 negative write-ups or editorials will not deter us from releasing the third and subsequent lists. For those who have chosen to give succour to looters, we wish them the best of luck with their new pastime,” he added.
Lai Mohammed noted that the pressure being faced by the government over its decision to expose looters was expected.
“We know where the pressure is coming from. However, the die is cast. We will not stop until we have released the names of all those who have looted our commonwealth. Those who have not looted our treasury have nothing to be afraid of.”
He noted further that it was the PDP who dared the federal government to release the names of looters in the party, hence the criticism that the list only contained the names of PDP members falls short without proper contextualization.
“We are not underestimating the desperation of the looters, but we wish to assure Nigerians who are justifiably outraged at the mindless plundering of the nation’s wealth also of our determination not to back down. Nigerians must know those who have wrecked the country and mortgaged the future of their children,” Mr Mohammed added.