Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, has called on the federal government to adopt an “aggressive policy” to recover looted funds instead of asking for loans.
Falana said this on the sidelines of an event organised by the US embassy in Abuja to mark the international anti-corruption day.
“People have stolen our money, why are you begging them to return it? We need to fight them and collect the money; we do not need loans that will mortgage the future of our country,” he said.
“The government is asking for a loan of $29.6 billion and we have more than that to recover.”
He called on the US government to intervene, and also urged anti-graft agencies to enhance cooperation to ensure the recovery of such funds.
He said that the federal government’s current plan to recover stolen loot of past administrations would not get the country out of its economic crisis.
“For instance, $458 million has been forfeited in the US; Nigeria has filed an application before the high court in Jersey where the money was traced to,” he said.
“But the US government has filed an objection to the release of the money to the government of Nigeria, claiming the money should be paid to the US government to be managed for Nigeria.
“We also have some money to collect from the Swiss government; the Swiss government is illegally saying that they are not going to release this money unless the World Bank is ready to supervise the management of the fund.
“Unfortunately, the government (Nigeria) is not challenging such violations of our sovereign rights as a nation.
“Unless the federal government is prepared to adopt an aggressive policy against western governments and their very corrupt financial institutions, we are not going to come out of this mess.”
Falana said the federal government’s request for loans would be detrimental to the future of the country. He also called on Nigerian media to join the campaign for the return of the country’s looted wealth.
“The Financial Times Magazine of the UK wrote an editorial asking the UK government to release not less than one billion pounds instead of giving us aid; the Nigerian media should join the campaign.”