Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Tuesday accused anti-graft agencies of looting funds and property recovered from corrupt persons and said this untoward act was the major reason why foreign countries harbouring monies stolen from Nigeria had refused to return them to the country.
“The National Assembly has been strident about the opacity shrouding the management of recovered funds, which in many cases get re-looted by the agencies that investigated and recovered them,” he said while declaring open the Strategic Retreat on Tracking the Progress of Anti-corruption Bills in the National Assembly.
According to the Senate president, the foreign countries harbouring funds looted from Nigeria are reluctant to return such monies, over fears that the returned assets may be mismanaged.
He said: “Nigeria is finding it difficult to convince other nations to return funds looted from our treasury. This is because of the other nations’ exasperation over the management of returned assets. Only recently, Mr. President inaugurated a committee to audit all assets recovered by various government agencies.”
Saraki cited a motion last week, seeking to expand the scope of the investigation of the scandal of the re-instatement and return to the civil service of former Chairman of the Pension Task Team, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, to include investigations of allegations that recovered properties had been re-looted by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“An ad hoc committee of the Senate, which is investigating some administrative infractions in the Executive, has discovered that many properties recovered from a fugitive from the law, have not been accounted for by the investigating agency,” Saraki said.
The development, he added, gives great concern to the international community, about Nigeria’s commitment to the anti-corruption drive.
â€œWe must work hard to erase this global impression because it is not a representation of who we are,â€ the Senate president said.
He expressed the commitment of the Senate to ensure that all anti-corruption related bills, including the Proceeds of Crime Bill, were passed into laws without delay.
The Money Laundering Prevention Bill is being delayed after stakeholders raised very serious constitutional issues, which have been forwarded to the Executive to iron out, Saraki explained.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, expressed the commitment of the Senate to ensure Nigeria was not expelled from the Egmont Group, a global body that facilitates international cooperation in the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism.
Nigeria was suspended in July this year and given up to December 2017 to comply with its standards on financial intelligence or risk expulsion by January 2018.