Close to a trillion-naira worth of stolen funds and assets have been recovered since Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015.
A group in Nigeria’s governing party, the All-Progressives Congress, APC Legacy Awareness and Campaign group said this in a press statement signed by its leaders; the APC National Youths Leader, Ismael Ahmed, Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) Salihu Lukman, a former APC National Publicity Secretary Mr Lanre Issa-Onilu and a Presidential media aide Tolu Ogunlesi.
According to the statement, the recovered funds are being used judiciously.“All final forfeitures are being deployed for use in the Government’s special Infrastructure and Social Investment Programmes or put into the annual Budget.
The most recent Abacha and Ibori Loots were transferred to the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), for transparent management under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF)” the statement said.
The APC group further listed some of the funds recovered; “$322 million Abacha Loot from the Government of Switzerland; $311 million Abacha Loot from the Bailiwick of Jersey; $100 million recovered by the EFCC for the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), from a company operating in the oil and gas sector; 4.2 million pounds sterling of Ibori Loot from the UK Government; 53 billion Naira for the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), from a real estate developer; $43 million security funds from an apartment in Ikoyi; and 189 billion Naira in ‘restrained’ funds from inflated personnel budgets, following ICPC’s scrutiny of practices, systems and procedures of MDAs’ personnel cost from 2019 to 2020. Billions of Naira in pension funds have been recovered from local and foreign Insurance Companies who have been holding on to assets of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).
“ICPC’s audit of Constituency Projects covering 2015 to 2018 helped recover 2 billion Naira of diverted funds and assets, and also forced about 300 contractors to return to site to complete abandoned or poorly-executed projects. In August 2021 the ICPC commenced the third Phase of this Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Exercise. In 2019 alone, ICPC also recovered 32 billion Naira worth of Land, Buildings and Vehicles. In 2021, the EFCC and ICPC have continued their recovery efforts, with billions of Naira in cash assets already recovered, either through Interim or Final Forfeiture Orders” the group.
The APC group further explained that the government is also implementing policies to plug financial leakages in the government.
“The Buhari administration is also focused on ensuring that taxes and other debts owed the Federal Government are recovered in full. To this end, the Federal Ministry of Finance launched the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) in 2017, and the Voluntary Offshore Asset Regularization Scheme (VOARS) in 2018.
VAIDS was followed by the launch of Project Lighthouse in 2018, by the Federal Ministry of Finance, as a data-mining initiative that aggregates tax, income and asset data from individuals and companies, enabling the Government to have a full picture of levels of tax compliance. So far Project Lighthouse has identified debts in excess of 5 trillion Naira, owed the Federal Government by individuals and corporate entities, with recoveries ongoing.
“Other technology-enabled initiatives that are yielding results in terms of plugging the leakage of government revenues include the automation of the issuance and management of Import Duty Exemption Certificates, the ongoing rollout of a national vehicle registry (which will help bring an end to the evasion of vehicle duties), and the Customs Single Window project. The successful rollout of the Automated Payment System for the Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge Rail Line is another step in this direction” the statement read.