“The hottest part of hell will be reserved for those who in times of moral crisis maintain their neutrality” – Dante Alighieri, Italian philosopher
Nigeria is today facing the greatest moral challenge of all times, perhaps, in all of human history, in the name of a voluntary amnesty bill currently before the National Assembly. This bill is proposed by Linus Okorie, representing Ohaozara/Onicha/Ivo federal constituency of Ebonyi State in the House of Representatives. This bill, as we write, has gone through the first reading (meaning that it is on the express way to being passed already).
In a nutshell, the Voluntary Amnesty Bill seeks to provide amnesty for those with illicit (ill-gotten or questionable wealth) not only from prosecution, but also from being asked questions about the sources of their income. These could be Nigerians (or foreigners operating in Nigeria) who either looted the treasury over the years, trafficked in hard drugs, kidnappers or armed robbers, as long as such persons can declare the money and pay a tax and surcharge of about 37.5 per cent to the government. On receipt of this tax and signing of the declaration form, Nigeria and Nigerians are expected to shut up and forever keep their peace. No court in the land or persons can prosecute the declaration.
One may ask, why has this bill suddenly come up? The background to this bill, which some have aptly described as an “economic and moral terrorism”, includes:
- The Executive Order given by the Federal Government which grants a time-bound amnesty ending December 31, 2017 to people of legitimate means who however have not been paying taxes on such income wherever the assets may be located. This amnesty does not extend to people of questionable means; and,
- With effect from January 1, 2018, Nigeria’s membership of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes Convention comes into force. This convention makes it obligatory for all member countries to declare all foreign-owned assets (including moneys in any form and physical assets including buildings and so on) in their jurisdictions. This will expose all Nigerians with legitimate and illegitimate assets and they are likely to lose all of these assets especially the ill-gotten ones.
For those members of the National Assembly, and their collaborators-in-crime, who are involved in this coup against humanity and moral terrorism, it is a race against time to beat the December 31, 2017 deadline to find a legal means of bringing in their illicit money.
There are other corrupt Nigerians who do not feel threatened yet by what is to come on January 1, 2018 because the countries where they stashed away their own dirty monies are not yet signatories to this convention. One wonders what form of brigandage they will express when their own turn comes to be afraid. Will they not unleash Armageddon on Nigerians and probably the world?
It is amazing that these are people who worship with us in our churches and mosques. Our children see them as successful and hope to be like them. They are moral terrorists in our places of worship.
It is not too late for us Nigerians to take action.
- Let us find and read copies of this bill and translate it into our local languages so that all Nigerians will understand it;
- Let us mobilise and march on the National Assembly to register our protest;
- Let us invite our representatives in the National Assembly to come and explain their parts in this heinous bill;
- Let us march on the embassies of all the countries we know harbour illicit wealth from Nigerians to sign into the Transparency Convention;
- And, let us demand that our religious leaders declare war on corruption and corrupt people.
Enough is enough. We must take Nigeria back
–Dr Azim ‘Kunle Ashimi, President , Association of Professionals for Promotion of Civic Values, Lagos
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