Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, Sultan of Sokoto, has called on the Federal government to explain to Nigerians how much loot it has recovered and what it is being used for.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, in collaboration with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission for the northwest zone, organized a zonal dialogue with stakeholders on the National Ethics and Integrity Policy in Sokoto.
According to the Sultan, represented by the Wazirin of Sokoto, Prof. Sambo Wali Junaidu, keeping silent on the recovered loots would spell the end for the fight against corruption in the country.
“The government owes Nigerians an explanation. We want to know how much money was reclaimed from our past leaders. What is happening with the money? And where is it?
He stated that this explanation was necessary because of the state of our educational system and other infrastructure, such as roads, which need government attention.”
The founders of the Sokoto Caliphate wrote many books about corruption and how it could be dealt with using Islamic practices.
Getting a copy of these books was the Sultan’s recommendation for Nigerian leaders to see how they can go about tackling corruption.
Ibrahim Alkali, zonal head of ICPC in charge of Sokoto, Kebbi, and Zamfara states explained that the new national ethics policy grew out of the urgent need to regain and revitalize the lost values of honesty and integrity in our nation.
Recovery of assets is a budgetary item – Malami
Additionally, the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating the status of all recovered loot, movable and immovable assets from 2002 to 2020 asked Accountant-General Ahmed Idris about the accounts of the recovered loots.
In a statement before the committee, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami said: “All the assets have been lodged with the CBN Assets Recovery Account and the CBN has confirmed the receipts of the amounts.”.
NASS appropriated recovered assets as a budget item among other monies.
Malami said the government had made some modest progress in recovering assets.
In that regard, we had recovered $322m from Switzerland in December 2017. The Abacha loot is that asset recovered.
The Island of Jersey and the United Kingdom were successfully repaid $311, 797, 866.11 in May 2020. The Republic of Ireland repaid us 5, 494, 743.71 Euros in October 2020
Abacha Loot is known as Northern Ireland in Nigeria. Most recently, we were able to recover £4 in May 2021. Ibori loot is known as 214, 017 from the UK.
The status of recovered assets, both foreign and local, had multiple dimensions.
Procedural Crimes Act has not yet passed
Malami said the delay in passage of the Proceeds of Crimes Bill by the National Assembly affected the Federal Government’s recovery efforts.
When we came into office, we recognized that there was no coordinated way to handle the disposal of recovered assets.
We put in place a legal framework to evaluate the possibility of having a legal framework, and we put together the Proceeds of Crime Bill which was sent to the National Assembly as early as 2017.
“The assets management and recovery agency was part of the POCA Bill, and it is regrettable to state that from 2017 to 2019, this legislative framework could not be achieved since the POCA was not passed by the National Assembly.
I cannot be here scouting for information relating to the recovered assets if the POCA Bill has indeed been passed by the NASS, for that bill has indeed established a great deal of effectiveness in terms of data, disposal, processes, and procedures.
“So, as a starting point, I would like to state that NASS has been inactive with regards to having in place a coordinated legal framework and asset tracking and disposal management,” he explained.
Malami noted, however, that the recovery efforts had yielded positive results as funds were being recovered despite the challenges.
Delta receives £4.2m in Ibori loot – Accountant General
Ahmed Idris, the Accountant-General, told the committee that the recovered loot of £4.2 million was paid to Delta State.
According to him, recovered funds should be paid to the states from where they were stolen, noting that the Federal Government had in the past paid funds stolen from Plateau and another state.
“I am aware that Plateau State’s recovery was made at one time. Bayelsa had one. There was one for each state, even Delta. The proceeds of such recoveries go specifically to those states.”
The chairman of the committee asked about the recent loot received from the United Kingdom. The Accountant-General replied: “It has been paid to the state.”. The money was paid to Delta State.
“Any recovery arising from looted funds from a particular state belongs to that state. This would not even fly with the governors of the state.
They will sue the government over holding their money. That’s why we don’t joke or play with it. “We pay them,” he said.
“We must identify and address these issues so that they do not remain unattended. We are the Treasury, and we have specific functions according to the existing rules and regulations.
The treasury of the federal republic of Nigeria has as its responsibilities documentation, custody of accounts, management of accounts, maintenance of accounts, and making releases to all arms of government. I am the head of the treasury. I am responsible for all of these,” he said.
Reps demand details about recovered funds
A member of the committee demanded clarifications on certain transactions involving the central bank’s recovery and other accounts.
Adejoro Adeogun, the chairman of the committee, ordered the Accountant-General to provide the committee with all the required documents regarding the operations of the TSA, the recovery of funds as well as other CBN accounts.
In addition to the Accountant-General, the EFCC, the ICPC, and others will appear before the committee between Wednesday and Thursday.