THE Presidency, on Sunday, said President Buhari did not disclose names of looters alongside the recent loot disclosure so as not to discourage further recoveries of looted funds.
Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina speaking on Channels television programme, noted that Buhari also heeded to legal opinions that disclosing the names of looters was premature and would amount to several suits if such named persons were found to be innocent.
In what was described as threading the path of caution, Adesina rejected insinuations that the bulk of the recoveries were from the Abacha loot, noting that the released figures were fresh loot covering May 29, 2015 to May 25, 2016.
He laid claim to the integrity quotient and trust of the Buhari-led government as showing that Nigerians believed the figures so far released were not conjectures.
“If you look at one category of those funds, you have interim forfeiture. Now, do you begin to mention names of people under that category when the courts may say they are guilty or not guilty? If the courts say they are not guilty, you have law suits on your hands which will be distraction to the government.
“When you begin to mention names at this stage, it will also discourage a lot of people who have funds to return from bringing those funds. They will say that their names are published, even after surrendering these funds. At the end of the day, we lose possibly money in billions and trillions, monies which would have been recoverable for the country but because the country has been precipitate in mentioning names and such funds will not be come into the coffers again.
“It is either you trust your government or you do not. And how do you trust your government? It depends on the integrity quotient of that government. If it was a government that we do not trust that was giving us figures, we would have been insisting that they must bring the names along with the figures because we do not trust them. But we know that this government is one with high quotient of integrity. It is government that Nigerians willingly elected and they trust. And so they believe these figures because they know that this government cannot trifle with their trust. So, a lot of Nigerians know that whatever this government tells them, they can take to the bank, and so, they believe the figures.
“Well, the president said he will mention names. But even if he erred, it is better to err on the side of caution because it came up and legal opinion was that it was premature to mention those names. I think it is a demonstration of strength for the president in that he did not mention those names again, contrary to what he had said earlier. It shows that he buys into the opinions of other people because legal minds urged the president not to mention those names yet, as it would have legal implications and he bought into it,” he said.