Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has said the Federal government will cooperate fully with the United States government including issuing an executive order to forestall a repeat of the massive email fraud and money laundering that led to the arrest of 80 persons, 77 of whom are Nigerians.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this when he appeared on Politics Today on Channels Television Sunday night.
The Presidential Media Aide who said it was unfair to paint every Nigerian with the same brush, admitted the arrest was damaging to Nigeria’s image, hence the decision to collaborate with the National Assembly to come up with new laws that will block some of the loopholes that are being exploited by some of fraudulent Nigerians to embarrass the country.
Shehu said: “This is double damage on every citizen of Nigeria; it is a big scare on all of us who go out of this country and are seen in this image that our brothers have created.
“We will cooperate with international organizations; the government will generate and ask for new laws from the National Assembly and there will be new executive orders that will block some of these loopholes that are being exploited by some of our fellow countrymen to go out there and embarrass and blacklist the country.”
On the specific reaction of the Federal government on the burst by the FBI since it touches everyone including the president, the Presidential Media Aide said “As I said earlier, this administration will work with all nations around the globe to fight criminality. If Nigerians are involved in this thing, well hard luck to them. The president will not stand in the way of the justice system. Every citizen that travels out of this country is expected to obey the laws of their host country. President Muhammadu Buhari is not one to excuse Nigerians from the laws of countries in which they reside.
“Therefore, you will expect a more vigorous engagement with the National Assembly. The laws will have to change; this has got to be tackled and if it will take executive orders, this will be strengthened very rapidly.”
Asked if there are moves to ensure that not all Nigerians are painted with the same brush since the arrest borders on reputation, Shehu said: “I think every person with a modicum of common sense knows that the action of few Nigerians is not the action of all Nigerians. We are 200 million-plus in this country and you are talking about 80 Nigerians in this case; they will face the justice system; if the Nigerian government is expected to cooperate in any way, extradition, if it meets the requirement of our laws, they will be assisted to ensure they face justice in that country.
“Nigerians are hardworking people all over the world, there are millions of our citizens out there earning a legitimate living; they don’t deserve to be so tarnished.”
Asked if there is direct communication between Nigeria and US government on the incident being termed the largest online fraud in the US history, the presidential media aide said: “Yes, the diaspora commission is there and the Nigerian government has taken a position on this matter, it is cooperation all the way.”