Nigeria being exposed to unprecedented ridicule —Falana

• It now looks like country of corruption —Ozekhome

As reactions continue to trail the ownership of funds recovered in an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), legal practitioner, Femi Falana, on Monday, said Nigeria is being exposed to unprecedented ridicule before the comity of nations.

In a Channel Television programme, he said “for me, Nigeria is being exposed to unprecedented ridicule before the comity of nations, if criminal elements, former public officers and departments of government are competing to hide American dollars, millions of dollars, in private apartments or dump sites, we are in trouble.”

Also reacting to the fact that the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) had laid claims to the cash, Falana urged the government to act transparently and consciously on such matters because, according to him, any other agency could equally come up and lay claims to discovered funds, saying that they were for covert operations.

“I think the NIA should not be allowed by the Buhari-led administration to play on the intelligence of Nigerians. We’ve gone beyond all this petty level of an agency of the government trying to frustrate a serious policy of the government.

“If care is not taken and if this explanation is accepted by the government, you could just forget about the whistle-blowing policy,” he said.

He, however, predicted that the Attorney-General would likely advise the agency that “if you are sure that you can substantiate your claim to the ownership of the money, go to the Federal High Court and file a counter affidavit.”

He chided the agency for the operation, adding that “if after two years, the president, as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the country, was not made aware of this covert operation, I think we are in trouble.”

Another legal practitioner, Mike Ozekhome, said the fight against corruption must be done strategically and in such a way that the image of the country would not be hurt.

“It makes too much of headlines and makes Nigeria look like a country of corruption. All the headlines in the last two years are just about corruption and no country in its right senses would want to come and invest in your country if all they hear every day is corruption, corruption, corruption; because there ought to be sanity,” he said.

According to him, such hauls were eventually turning Nigeria into a subject of ridicule and a laughable show for the rest of the world.

“We are beginning to reduce the entire anti-corruption fight to one of a Trafalgar Square in London or one of a national theatre cinema or one of Hollywood, Nollywood and Bollywood, joined together – That is not how to fight corruption,” the lawyer asserted.

He made references to the United States, noting that in their fight against corruption, investigations were done secretly and thoroughly until facts were unravelled.