How we are spending recovered cash, says President
By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi
President Muhammad Buhari has opened up on the status of funds looted by public officers, but recovered by his administration. He spoke in New York, United States in a speech he delivered at the United Nations.
This is even as he urged the United States and United Kingdom to return Nigeria’s stolen cash lodged in their banks.
The President expressed optimism that stolen cash and assets in the West will be returned to Nigeria in 2017.
Two weeks ago, Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed at the 34th Cambridge University International Symposium on Economic Crime that the Federal Government has so far recovered N3.4 trillion in cash and assets from looters.
The former Rivers State governor also said the government discovered N115 billion looted cash and assets in the United States, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom.
Earlier, Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had on June 4 said an interim report of recoveries of looted assets and monies, that cash recoveries from May 29, 2015 to May 25, 2016 totalled N78,325,354,631.82; $185,119,584.61; #3,508,355.46 Pounds Sterling and E11, 250 Euros.
In the statement released in Lagos, Mohammed also said Recoveries Under Interim Forfeiture (cash and assets) during the period totalled N126,563,481,095.43; $9,090,243,920.15; £2,484,447.55 and €303,399.17.
In his speech at the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and his second as President, Buhari insisted that fighting corruption remains the main focus of his administration. The speech reads in parts:
“Fighting corruption remains a cardinal pillar of our administration. Corruption freezes development, thereby undermining the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I am pleased that our efforts in fighting corruption are yielding positive results including significant stolen assets recoveries.
“The recovered funds are being channelled towards the development of critical infrastructure and the implementation of social inclusion programmes for our people. We are also strengthening our capacity of government entities to institutionalise reforms to ensure transparency and good governance.
“The Anti -Corruption Summit held in London, in May this year, served as further reassurance of the global community’s commitment to fight corruption through proposed practical steps to address challenges including actions to hold perpetrators to justice within the law. Nigeria supports the development of an international legal framework to enforce anti-corruption measures and strengthen existing international institutions to effectively deal with corrupt practices.
“Nigeria calls on member states that are yet to sign up to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) to do so. Nigeria will continue to advocate for the facilitation of the recovery of illicit financial assets.
“Indeed, the speedy and unconditional return of stolen public assets should be the focus of the follow-up anti-corruption conference to be hosted by the US and UK in Washington, next year.”
President Buhari equally made a pitch for Nigeria to be the African representative on the UN Security Council. “Africa should be adequately represented on the United Nations Security Council in the permanent member category. In this regard, Nigeria stands ready to serve Africa and the world on a reformed security council to advance international peace and security.”
Speaking on terrorism, the President traced how bombing of the twin World Trade Centre Towers in New York, USA on September 9, 2001 has had a negative effect on and spread of global terrorism.
He detailed how Nigeria is coping with Boko Haram insurgency and specifically pleaded with world powers to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty which would help curb small and light arms.
“We, in Nigeria, having been victims of terrorism ourselves fully understand the impact of 9/11 on the American psyche and families of the thousands of innocent victims whose lives were lost on that day. I, therefore, reiterate the Nigerian Government’s and people’s sympathies to the American people and prayers for the families of the victims that they may heal and find closure soon.
“We hope that justice will be done to the families of victims of 9/11 as, indeed, to that victims of terror everywhere in conformity with the norms of international justice. As we seek justice for terror victims, the international community should avoid reacting in the heat of deep emotions of the moment by taking unilateral measures, legal or otherwise that will have a negative and disruptive impact on the international community’s collective efforts to fight terrorism.
“We should not be distracted in our collective resolve to beat back terrorism in all its forms. As we confront terror, we must also commit to stopping the proliferation of small arms and light weapons which nurture its spread. To this end, Nigeria urges member states that are yet to sign and ratify the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to do so without further delay.
“Nigeria has made remarkable progress in our resolve to defeat Boko Haram whose capacity to launch orchestrated attacks as a formed group has been severely degraded. In the last few months, their operations have been limited to sporadic use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) against soft targets,” he said.
Buhari also told his colleagues that at least, $14 billion is needed to, over a five-year period to replenish the Lake Chad Basin, which is drying up. The basin, said the President, is home to 30 million people. The Sun