The House of Representatives, on Thursday, set out to probe the status of all recovered public funds from 1999 till date, even as it asked the Federal Government to state in clear terms, how it intends to spend the stolen loots it has been recovering for the country. Consequently, it has asked its committee on Public Accounts to carry out a comprehensive investigation of public funds and assets recovered from 1999 till date, particularly but not limited to the uses to which such funds had been put, with a view to reporting to the House within 3 months on the status of the funds.
It also “urged the government to set out clear rules on how recovered funds should be utilised and ensure strict accountability in its disbursement in line with extant laws and national priorities.” This followed a motion on the need to ascertain the status of recovered public funds, brought by Hon. Segun Adekola. The lawmaker noted with concern the recent statement by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has so far recovered more than $2 trillion (over N400 trillion at the current rate) looted from the national treasury, in its twelve years of existence.
He also noted that further recoveries have been made by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Department of State Services (DSS), in addition to the huge amounts of money returned by those who, at various times, entered into plea-bargain with the EFCC. Adekola further noted the present government’s assertion that some former officials of the previous government have been returning unspecified sums to the treasury. He stated that for many years now, successive governments have continued to take possession of billions of dollars of looted public funds returned from various parts of the world, with Switzerland returning a higher percentage of the amounts.
The legislator expressed concern about the persistent confusion as to the exact amount that had been recovered, and what happened to it. He was also concerned that successive governments have not been transparent regarding their management or spending of recovered public assets, giving vent to the allegations that some of the recovered funds may have been spent, mismanaged or simply disappeared. Giving his submissions, the House presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, overwhelmingly adopted the motion with all the prayers. The House also mandated the Committee on Financial Crimes to investigate whether any crimes may have been committed in the course of the management and disbursements of the recovered funds in the last 12 years.