Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Presidential Committee on the Audit of Recovered Public Assets Tuesday told President Muhammad Buhari in the State House that it had recovered N769 billion.
Making the disclosure at a meeting with the president, Chairman of the three-man committee, Mr. Olufemi Lijadu, said the committee was mandated to audit recovered government assets by government agencies,
listing agencies covered by the audit to include: the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Nigeria Police Force, Pension Transitional Arrangement Department (PTAD), Federal Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), and Department of State Security (DSS).
According to him, the committee obtained access to records including bank statements and other information from government agencies, banks and other organisations in relation to recovered cash and non-cash public assets.
He also said the committee in accordance with its terms of reference, reviewed and attempted to reconcile the recovered assets as declared by agencies with the actual recoveries made.
The committee was set up by Buhari last year to carry out a comprehensive audit of assets and funds recovered by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) between May 29, 2015 and November 22, 2017.
Other members of the committee are an accountant from the Auditor General of the Federation’s office, Mohammed Nami, and Gloria Chinyere Bibogha.
In his remarks, Buhari pointed out that asset recovery was an integral part of the war against corruption.
He also said the committee was empanelled not only to reconcile different figures released as recovered loot since 2015, but to also evolve a proper management, transparency and accountability culture in the management of recovered assets
According to him, the nation’s asset recovery and management system will in future be transparently, effectively and efficiently managed because a fresh template on public accountability in the country will be set up.
He called on the National Assembly to pass Proceeds of Crimes Bill before, saying it will strengthen the administration’s asset recovery mission.
“However, a key tool that will revolutionise our asset recovery and management architecture is the Proceeds of Crimes Bill which is currently awaiting passage by the National Assembly.
“Once the Bill is passed and assented, many of the challenges facing our asset recovery and management practice will be adequately taken care of as the bill addresses most of the challenges facing effective asset recovery and management in Nigeria.
“I therefore encourage the National Assembly to take necessary steps to pass the bill,” he said.
Buhari also promised that proceeds of assets recovered would be optimally used to address economic and social problems.
Threatening that loopholes for stealing public funds must be blocked, Buhari said findings and recommendations of the committee would be carefully examined and given due consideration with a view to implementing the recommendations.
In his submission, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, gave a mini breakdown of the recovered assets.
He said: “The federal government recovered N13.8 billion from tax evaders in May 2018.
“In May 2018, government paid N439.2million to about 14 whistle blowers who gave specific information on tax evasion.
“Again, N3.8 million, $378million US dollars 27,800 pounds was equally recovered from public officials.
“In summary, the recovered funds by the three-man committee is N769 billion naira cash, recovered within the period under review.”