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Kukah asks: How can we discover billions and say the owner is not known?

Matthew Kukah, Catholic bishop of Sokoto diocese, has expressed worry at the failure of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to disclose the owner of the huge stash of monies it discovered recently.

The anti-graft agency had found $43m, £27,000 and N23m at a flat in a luxury building on Osborne road, Ikoyi, Lagos.

In an interview with journalists in Kaduna on Wednesday, Kukah said the manner in which huge sums of money were being hidden was very demoralising and humiliating.

The cleric, who was attending a sensitisation seminar on money laundering/counter-financing of terrorism for religious leaders organised by Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), said the EFCC must tell Nigerians who the owners of the monies are.

“I feel quiet demoralised, I also feel very humiliated as a Nigerian. But the confusion is not helped by the fact that we are dealing with monies that are about the sizeable budget of many states in Africa, it is just unthinkable that we can say that we have money running into billions of naira and we don’t know who has the money,” he said.

“Frankly, if I were a foreigner, I think my respect for Nigeria will dwindle seriously, so for me as a Nigerian, I feel quiet violated.

“I am sure whether this theatre is really the best way to go. I think that the agencies concerned should have a less dramatic, but most effective way of telling us the work they are doing other than this endless washing of linens whose owners we don’t know. It is not helping the fight (against corruption) at all.”

According to him, Nigeria is going through trying moments and resources are not being accounted for.

“This is not the best of times for our country. We are losing human lives, our resources are unaccounted for and Nigerians have never felt collectively more psychologically assaulted as they feel now,” he said.

“I think that the government need to speed up the process of national integration because, it is worrying, really, really worrying, the faith of many people in our country is severely tested, but whatever it is, we must hang together. I think the government must construct a slightly different narrative.”

Earlier his keynote address at the occasion, Kukah urged religious leaders to focus more on values which unite people as children of God and as citizens of Nigeria.

“What has really been making things difficult for us in our country, is that we are moving in different directions and the result is that Christians are on one side, Muslims are on the other side and we maintained this dual loyalty,” he said.

“The only time when Christianity and Islam don’t matter, is when they are burying the money under the ground. When they are sharing the contracts, Christianity and Islam don’t matter. When they are sharing the loot that is when religion doesn’t matter.

“Religious leaders must stand firm on believability. A religious leader must be knowledgeable; I am not talking of book knowledge. There is nothing as beautiful as calling people by their names. There is nothing more beautiful than having neighbours around you and your interest in them.”

AmarSim Associations Development Consultants

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