Two term member of the House of Representatives from Etsako Federal Constituency, Edo State Hon Abubakar Momoh has said that the diversion of funds meant for arms purchase did not start under ex-president Goodluck Jonathan but had been on since the time of former president Olusegun Obasanjo.
“We were aware that these things happened, not just during the Jonathan administration, but right from Obasanjo’s time. If the probe will be taken back to that time, all former head of states should be assembled to give account of arms purchased by their administrations,” Momoh told Vanguard in an interview.
“It did not start with Jonathan’s administration but it is just a system that has been established which Jonathan inherited and continued with.
“So, if I were the president, I will do my best to collect money from those I can and then establish a procedure that everybody will know that, once you embezzle government funds, you will be prosecuted. That is how to end corruption.
“But when you decided to focus on the immediate past administration then people will begin to read meaning into it and see it as witch-hunting and victimization,” he pointed out.
“There is nothing that was done in the administration of Jonathan that was not done in the administrations of Yar’Adua and Obasanjo. The fact remains that a tradition had been established and because it is a system, you passed it from one administration to another,” the ex-lawmaker said.
He, however, thanked God that President Muhammadu Buhari has come to end corruption. He also said the best time for someone like Buhari to end corruption is now that the country is in a dire economic situation, because even if those around him wanted to steal, there is no money. “… if the man had come when things were buoyant, people around him would have been doing it even if he is honest,” Momoh said.
He expressed belief that the president is on track and trying to set a standard for all to follow. “If anybody falls below that standard, he would have committed an offense.”
The figures being published to have been stolen, according to Momoh was small money to those who stole during the oil boom.
“Small boys had billions of dollars in their account throughout that period of oil boom. But what had happened this time around is when the prices of oil have crash and we are looking for money.
“Many people who were involved in such acts thought Jonathan will continue and nothing will happen.”
Speaking further, Momoh urged Nigerians to apply caution in the ongoing corruption fight, “because once a person’s name is mention, people see him as being corrupt but it is wrong.
“People mentioned Tanko Yakassai who collected money from Tony Anenih, Rasheed Ladoja and the rest only collected; what they were given was for election.
“Were you expecting that they should have asked where the government got the money from? It is not possible. So such people should not be asked to return their money because it was given for them to do something with.
“N260 million is nothing to Anenih that you can say he embezzled. Mr. President cannot give him the money for election and he will ask him where he got the money from? If government wants to curb corruption, let them go to the ministries, which is where the real corruption is taking place.
“They should not limit it to Dasuki alone because people will read meaning to it. People like Raymond Dokpesi should not be blamed for collecting money for advert from NSA because he cannot ask him where he got the money,” Momoh said.