Even in a pseudo federalism, the Federal Government cannot always escape from the assigned role of Big Brother, being the most senior partner in the family coalition.
In ancient times, crime was a wrong against the individual and it was treated as such. The individual and his family decided what to do with the offender.
As time went on, society stepped in, ostensibly to indemnify the victim and help him deal with the aggressor.
The victim had no choice in the matter, particularly as he had no way of knowing that Big Brother was ascribing to itself, the role of the pimp –as a prostitute, the victim would work all night while Big Brother as the pimp simply picks up the proceeds.
A crime is committed; the offender is charged to court, the victim wastes his time and money, appearing as government witness in the case; and finally, the offender is found guilty. He is asked to pay a fine to Big Brother. Sometimes, he has to serve time in prison, during which period, he works for Big Brother with his sweat and blood. Over time, prison labour has become a veritable labour for Nigerians who pay to Big Brother. In the entire process, nothing goes to the original victim who suffered the initial loss. He is simply left in the cold.
All the original victim is told is that he can pursue his claim under a separate civil proceeding. This sounds ridiculous. A criminal in his vitality is taken through the criminal proceedings, which last some five years. After that, he goes to prison for another five years. At this time, he is feeble and in abject penury. He is released to go home and die. That is when the victim is asked to commence civil proceedings on this vegetable!
Stealing is still stealing, even where the family Head is the thief. Big Brother is having fun, wheeling and dealing on repatriated funds from looters. We watch, with total disdain and disgust, the raw deal the Delta State Government is getting over the money repatriated from former Governor Ononefe Ibori’s loot, so called. Big Brother’s posturing is clear – on repatriation, this looted fund must be relooted! That’s the normal rule that looted funds travel –very rare exceptions!
Victimologists the world over have continued to wonder for how long victims will continue to have the raw deal, particularly in a democracy. Is it not too late in the day to begin to dispute the ownership of the Ibori loot? Ibori was the Governor of Delta State at the time of the loot. It was only the Delta State money that was available for him to loot.
In furtherance of his personal interest, Big Brother was listening to what a victim was telling the armed robber that was pursuing him.
We hear Big Brother says that the Delta State Government once claimed that Delta State money was not missing. That was during the trial. If the British Authority still went ahead to convict Ibori on the loot, why should anyone now be loosing sleep over what Delta said or did not say during the trial?
It gets incrementally indecorous. An official of the Buhari Government was reminded of two precedents on this issue: that first, in 2012, a similar loot by former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyegha, the repatriated loot was sent direct to the Government of Bayelsa State.
Secondly, Governor Joshua Dariye’s repatriated loot as Governor of Plateau State was sent to the Government of Plateau State.
The official retorted rather angrily that it all depends on the approaches adopted on each occasion. We wonder what would introduce a Big differential in dealing with similar cases under the same jurisdiction.
Admittedly, the British Authority would be interested in what plans you have to forestall the relooting of the repatriated fund. This is where Big Brother was clever by half Big Brother enumerated the Federal Projects for which there are annual appropriations.
Occasionally, officials will be dispatched from Westminster to go and find out how far we are going with the repatriated loot. They would hover over the various sites in a helicopter and go back to report that work is progressing speedily, unknown to them that what they saw was the annual appropriation at work; and that the repatriated loot might have been relooted into private pockets!
Apparently, Big Brother has been caught between business as usual – relooting looted assets and the avowed war on corruption. The world has come to realize it is now business as unusual. What is required is utmost openness and accountability.
In just the same way that when a snatched car is retuned to the car owner after investigation, the repatriated loot also belongs to the original owners of the looted fund.
Police Authority have a way of dealing with this. When the car owner comes forward to claim his car after investigation, he is made to pay the cost of recovering the car, including a bogus charge for towing the car to the police station, even where the car was recovered next door from the station.
Similarly, Big Brother should send the repatriated Ibori loot to the Delta State Coffers after deducting the cost of recovery.
We are engaged in the theatre of war – war against corruption. In this war, every case shall be treated on its own merit. The Abacha and Ibori loots must be treated differently. In each case, Big Brother has no right to sit on any of the recoveries from the loots. The repatriation from Ibori belongs to the Delta State Government. But in the case of the Abacha loots, any repatriation should be sent to the Federation Account from where it would be distributed to the Federating units. After all, this was money cornered from the excess crude account, so called.
This further underscores the need to regularly have an updated inventory of assets that are being confiscated from corrupt officials, which must be made available as a matter of public records!