Kogi West senator and alleged anti-corruption activist Dino Melaye announced on Sunday that President Muhammadu Buhari should grant looters a six-month amnesty period during which they can return stolen assets to the government.
The senator made this suggestion in a post on his Facebook page commemorating Independence Day.
“Though an unrepentant advocate for integrity and forthrightness, especially from public office holders, I, however, sincerely want to recommend that Mr. President grants Presidential Amnesty/Pardon to all those who looted our treasury, provided they return all proceeds of their loot to the government within six (6) months of the declaration of Amnesty,” Mr. Melaye said. Suspects who fail to return their stolen funds within this time frame would be charged and prosecuted in accordance with the law, he said.
Such a program would encourage looters to voluntarily return assets to the government, the senator argued, adding that the recovered assets could then be used to fund projects to stimulate the economy.
Mr. Melaye’s proposal is curious, as the senator has long championed himself as an anti-corruption crusader. During his time as head of the Anti-Corruption Network, Mr. Melaye filed a suit against Stella Oduah, the then-Minister of Aviation, for purchasing two armored BMW cars for N255 million.
Since becoming senator, however, Mr. Melaye has raised suspicions that he himself is guilty of the corruption he claims to fight.
In 2015, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate Mr. Melaye for his opulent lifestyle. The group pointed to his N1.3 billion Abuja mansion as one example of his excessiveness.
When our correspondent asked Mr. Melaye how one could afford such luxuries on a public servant’s salary, he simply stated that he was “a distinguished member of the federal government” and refused to further discuss the matter.
While Mr. Melaye claims that the purpose of the amnesty program is to incentivize the return of stolen assets, one cannot help but question his true motives behind the proposal.