•Looted assets recovered in Nigeria rises to N1trn
•More than $800m recovered abroad
The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, has from if he was to be the current head of state, he would have abandoned the anti-corruption war and ‘ungrateful’ Nigerians to their fate
This is a he revealed that despite lack of appreciation especially from the “corrupt Nigerian elites”, President Muhammadu Buhari administration has recovered assets worth of N1 trillion within Nigeria alone with about $800 million recovered from abroad.
Sagay disclosed this in Abuja on Wednesday during the 1st African Day of Anti-Corruption and Roundtable of the AU Champion Against Corruption with the theme: “Enhancing Domestic Resources for Sustainable Development Goals by Improved Asset Recovery and Asset Return”.
In his opening address titled: “Fight Against Corruption and Attainment of Sustainable Development Goals Under the Buhari Administration”, Sagay lamented that despite the enormous achievements, some Nigerians especially the elites are pushing a contrary narrative to frustrate their efforts for the simple fact they no longer have access to easy money unlike the past administrations.
Sounding disappointed, he wished that Buhari had thrown in the towel and allow Nigerians wallow the misery of not having an Anti-Corruption champion.
He said: “So a lot is going on and I said the elite, and I will always emphasize the elites, because the ordinary Nigerian is appreciative. The elites are pretending not to know what is going on, they’re pretending that they are not seeing change. They are pretending as if we are carrying on in the way, the wasteful and turbulent way this country used to be run, because they are beneficiaries of the bad system. Easy money is no longer coming to their pockets, they are now having to work for their living and therefore they are grieved and pretending that they don’t know that anything is happening.
“This government is a very patient government. I personally I am an impatient man. What if I were head of state I would have thrown in the towel and tell Nigerians ‘go and suffer the fate you deserve. Go and suffer the fate you were experiencing before 2015, so that they can go back to that system of bribery, corruption, rottenness which we have seen this country to a state of total destruction.”
Sagay stressed that “contrary to the narrative being pushed into the media, both regular and social, by the aggrieved beneficiaries of corruption, the war against corruption under the Buhari Administration has been a huge success”.
He noted that hardly a day passes without the publication of a Court Order of forfeiture of looted funds, landed properties and other assets, adding that “enormous amount have been traced to the functionaries of the last government and their associates all over the world.
“Within Nigeria, the value of assets recovered has risen to about one trillion. Money recovered from abroad has followed the same pattern; Switzerland ($321 million), the USA (over $400 million) and the UK ($73 million).”
“On the social intervention….it’s one of the greatest achievement of any government that this country has ever heard regardless of the stubbornness of the elites who pretend not to know what is happening.
The next question is, to what extent are those recovered funds being used towards the sustainable development goals of the US, the answer is simple. In the 2017 budget, 500 billion naira was set aside by the federal government for the social intervention programme. A similar amount have been set aside in the 2018 budget,” he added.
Also, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi, agreed that Asset recovery and return is critical to the effort to harness and consolidate resources towards Nigeria and Africa’s drive to achieve the SDGs before 2030.
Utazi said the National Assembly, especially the Senate are prepared to provide the legislative mechanism for the fight against corruption having passed since last year, the Proceeds of Crime Bill and “awaiting the completion of work on it by the House of Representatives for enabling template for asset recovery and return to have the necessary legislative backing”.
He however, blamed the foreign countries including the UK for not making the necessary legislation that closes the loopholes that encourages capital flight from Nigeria.
To this end, he said the Senate has also passed the Mutual Legal Assistance Bill, waiting for the House of Representatives to do the same.
In the same vein, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said that asset recovery has become a priority on the anti-corruption agenda of the current administration.
Mustapha stated that this has been appropriately articulated in the National Anti-Corruption Strategy of 2017.
He listed the principles behind the recovery and return of assets to include the common understanding that it is an economic intervention strategy with the potentials for bringing back stolen commonwealth, thereby increasing the revenue profile of the government.
“It serves as a restitution to the society/citizens ‘victimised’ by acts of corruption,” he added.
He said the Assets recovery and return also aims to deny criminals their illegal gain and prevent them from misusing it to organise crime purposes.