By Yekeen Nurudeen
One year after it published damning revelations from the Panama Papers investigation into the offshore secrets of some rich and famous Nigerians, foremost Nigerian online newspaper, PREMIUM TIMES has said that there are more revelations coming from the Panama Papers.
The newspaper had published leaked papers from a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonsecca, which were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Editor-In-Chief of PREMIUM TIMES, Musikilu Mojeed said that the newspaper after its series of publications last year from the Panama Papers which exposed secret offshore dealings of prominent Nigerians, it has kept digging deeper into the Papers to bring out more revelations, saying “Nigerians should expect more revelations”.
Mojeed spoke with icirnigeria.org after the Panama Papers investigation won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize on Monday.
“We haven’t told all the stories. We are yet to tell all the stories in the Panama Papers. There are more to it that can be told.
“But we have told the story we can given our resources and the size of our paper. But there are a lot that can be told with the information contained there.
“We tried as much as we can to tell the most important story but we have kept digging into the data to bring out more stories and when we are ready, we will publish those stories.
“There are more stories, more revelations to come” he said.
The prize was given to the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, ICIJ, together with two US titles, McClatchy and the Miami Herald.
Reports from the Panama Papers were the results of “collaboration of more than 300 reporters on six continents to expose the hidden infrastructure and global scale of offshore tax havens”.
The consortium included Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung –which received 11.5 million documents from a whistleblower and involved over 100 international media organizations including the Premium Times, the Guardian, and the BBC. The project is believed to have been the largest journalistic cooperation ever.
PREMIUM TIMES identified at least 110 Nigerians and companies operating offshore shell companies in tax havens.
Asked whether his newspaper was willing to share the information in the Panama Papers, he said: “Unfortunately, we don’t have permission to share the data with other media establishments because it was actually a privilege to have access to the paper.
“There are rules guiding it; unless we have permission to share we cannot share the information from the paper with any other person.
“Unless we have permission from ICIJ which is coordinating the reporting we cannot share any data with anybody. What people can make do is whatever we make of it at this point in time.
“We tried as much as we can to tell the most important story but we have kept digging into the data to bring out more stories and when we are ready, we will publish those stories. There are more stories, more revelations to come” he added.
On why no Nigerian indicted in the Paper has been arrested or prosecuted based on the Papers’ leak, Mojeed said the federal government should summon the needed political will to prosecute those who are found to have broken Nigerian laws as a result of the revelations from the Papers.
“If you pay attention, the Code of Conduct Bureau said they were investigating, the EFCC also said it was investigating. We believed but we are worried that the investigation has dragged on for too long and we don’t know where they are in the investigation may be you can reach out to them to find out.
“They did set up a panel to investigate all the allegations contained in our reports. We don’t know where they are but we hope that Nigerian government will summon the needed political will to really prosecute those who are found to have broken Nigerian laws because not everybody in the paper have committed wrong doing.
“Some were just doing their legitimate businesses but there are a lot of people who while holding public offices were busy doing businesses and acquiring assets abroad in violation of Nigerian Code of Conduct law.
“So those kind of people, government needs to investigate them , we are not even saying that they have done something wrong because we are not the court but government needs to do its investigation. But from our own investigation, it does appear that people like Bukola Saraki, David Mark, former GMD NNPC, Abubabakar Yar’Adua, former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, former GMD of NNPC, Funsho Kupolukun, former Minister of National Planning, Rasheed Gbadamosi, Andy Uba, a Senator from Anambra, David Umoru, a Senator from Niger State and Kabir Gobir, a Senator from Sokoto have questions to answer” said the PREMIUM TIMES Editor.
While Nigerian government has yet to summon courage to deal with the revelations from the leaked Papers, the story had a global impact. Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson was forced to quit after it emerged that his family had sheltered cash offshore. There were demonstrations in Argentina and a small war in Azerbaijan, initiated – some believed – to distract from revelations concerning the president and his daughters.
In China, censors blocked the words “Panama Papers” and jammed the website of the Guardian. In Russia, aides to Vladimir Putin fumed about a western “spy” conspiracy after it emerged that Putin’s oldest friend,the cellist Sergei Roldugin, had about $2 billion flowing into a network of British Virgin Islands companies.
The founders of the Panamanian law firm, Jürgen Mossck and Ramón Fonseca, were arrested in February. They are currently in jail on suspicion of money laundering following a coordinated swoop by prosecutors across Latin America.
But Mojeed who noted that it was gratifying that the collaborative efforts of journalists under the umbrella of IJIC won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize however said that the overriding goal would be for the report to drive the needed changes in the country.
“We hope that the government will summon the needed political will to at least do the needed reforms that will make our country more transparent, more accountable like setting up a register of beneficial companies and make all tiers of government to be more transparent in the use of public funds. If that is done and then, we would have a transparent country,and we would not have worked in vain”, he said.