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Anti-Corruption Agencies Looting Recovered Assets, Says Saraki |RN

Bukola-Saraki

Senate President, Bukola Saraki

From Fred Itua, Abuja 

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has alleged that proceeds of corruption recovered by the Federal Government are being looted by the anti-corruption agencies.

The senate president blamed anti-graft agencies in the country for making it difficult for the federal government to convince other nations to return funds looted.

Saraki said these at a one-day strategic retreat on Tackling the progress of anti-corruption bills in the National Assembly, yesterday, where he reiterated that many assets recovered were relooted by the anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria. 

He was  represented by the Deputy Senate Leader, Ibn Bala Na’Allah.

“Nigeria is finding it difficult to convince other nations to return funds looted from our treasury. This is because of other nations’ exasperation over the management of returned assets.

“Only recently,  Mr. President inaugurated a committee to audit all assets recovered by various government agencies.

“The National Assembly has been strident about the opacity shrouding the management of recovered funds, which, in many cases, gets reported by the agencies that investigated and recovered them. 

“An ad-hoc committee of the senate, which is investigating some administrative infraction in the Executive,  has discovered that many properties recovered from fugitives from the law have not been accounted for, by the investigating agency.  This gives global community great concern about the commitment of Nigeria to the anti-corruption drive.”

In his opening remarks, chairman of the committee, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, said Nigeria’s struggle against entrenched corruption is a global concern.

Utazi expressed dissatisfaction with the suspension of Nigeria by the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, at a time Nigeria has made anti-corruption a cardinal policy of government. 

He added that the suspension greatly impedes the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

Utazi said: “The suspension activated the immediate shutdown of the EGMONT secure Web, ESW,  against Nigeria, with the implication that Nigeria can no longer exchange sensitive information with about 172 other member countries in order to carry out investigative and regulatory responsibilities as they affect local and international bothering on money laundering, terrorism financing. 

“This is dreadful consequences on sharing criminal intelligence and financial information bothering on money laundering, terrorism financing, proliferation of arms,  corruption, financial crimes, economic crimes and such like offences geared towards the support of local and international investigations, prosecution and asset recovery.”

In his own remarks, Director of Africa network for Environment and Economic Justice,  (ANEEJ), David Ugolor, disclosed that Swiss government and Nigeria government are at the final stage of returning $321 million to Nigeria.

from Abacha’s loot. 

According to him, the return of $321 million Abacha’s loot is at the final stage. “We want to commend the federal government for making sure that the country take recovery of Abacha’s loot,” he said.   (The Sun)

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$2bn Scam: EFCC Accuses DSS Of Protecting Indicted Officials |RN

MusaDaura1                          DSS Chief, Lawal Daura

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has accused the Department of State Services of refusing to release its officials for questioning over their alleged roles in the $2bn arms scam purportedly perpetrated by a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).

The EFCC said this in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on Tuesday.

Uwujaren issued the statement in response to a publication by a national daily in which an anonymous DSS official accused the EFCC of attempting to humiliate officials of the secret police agency because the Director-General of the DSS, Lawal Daura, scuttled the confirmation of the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, at the Senate.

According to the report, an anonymous DSS official said, “What are they (EFCC) trying to do, audit our operations or what? Did the service report any financial infraction to them and call for their intervention? It is just a case of overzealousness and lack of professionalism and we won’t allow that, because what you allow is what will continue.

“If they (EFCC) need any clarification on anything, they should come to our office. We can’t be humiliated by anybody. Never!  If this is the fallout from the security report officially requested by the National Assembly, then we wish them luck. We stand by our findings.”

However, the EFCC said it was not on a witch-hunt.

The commission said it invited DSS officials just as it had invited officers of the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigerian Navy.

According to the anti-graft agency, while military officers made themselves available and culpable ones have since been arraigned, the DSS refused to release its officers for questioning.

The EFCC said, “It is important to state that it is not strange for the EFCC to invite (for questioning) officers of other law enforcement agencies alleged to be complicit in any case being investigated by the commission. But there are protocols in doing this; and part of that protocol is to write to the heads of such agencies, requesting that the officer(s) in question be released to be interviewed.

“In the course of investigating the arms procurement scandal in the Office of the former  National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), the commission has had cause to request the release of officers of other security agencies, including the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air force, the Nigerian Navy and now the DSS, for questioning. All but the DSS have acceded to this request.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the arms procurement investigation is national in outlook with alleged culprits cutting across the military, security establishments as well as the political class. It is not targeted at any institution.

“Consequently, the insinuation about a revenge-instigated investigation of the DSS by the EFCC over its role in the senate refusal to confirm Ibrahim Magu as substantive chairman of the EFCC, is not only specious, but pure mischief contrived for motives that are unclear.”   (Punch)

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Buhari Is Alone In Fight Against Corruption, Says Sen. Zwingina |RN

Silas-Zwingina

Senator Jonathan Silas Zwingina

FROM: PAUL ORUDE, BAUCHI

A former Senate leader, Sen. Jonathan Silas Zwingina, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is standing alone in the fight against corruption as he is surrounded by doubtful officials.

Zwingina stated this at the weekend during the sensitisation workshop on the activities and achievements of President Buhari held at Zaranda Hotel, in Bauchi.

The former senate leader, who was the guest speaker at the occasion expressed fears over the success of the fight against corruption.

According to Zwingina, “It’s quite unfortunate that the President is surrounded by so many doubtful assistants.

“With the foot soldiers available to Mr President to fight the war against corruption, there are many cases where it appears that the President is alone in the fight against corruption.

“He is surrounded by so many doubtful assistants such that if he were to sack them, he would sack almost everybody, hence he is forced to manage what is available to him.

“It is also on record that some of the anti-corruption agencies are themselves not without some in house corruption suspects”

Zwingina also attributed Boko Haram insurgency that engulfed North East region as a result of corruption.

He said: “if corruption was not allowed to interfere in the system, there would have been no insurgency in the first instance”

He thereby stressed the need for all hands to be on deck to fight corruption to a stand-still in the country.

He continued: “We must support the war against corruption in order to climb higher in the anti-corruption index as well as free our economy and society from the cancer that has been overwhelmingly acknowledged as the main threat to our development”

Also speaking, an elder statesman and former minister of Special Duties during President Olusegun Obasanjos’ administration, Alhaji Mohammed Bello Kirfi , lauded the efforts of President Buhari in the tackling insurgency crisis in the North East.

Bello Kirfi who is the chairman of the occasion, said “Before the coming of this administration, we were very much affected by insurgency in the North East where thousands were killed, many displaced and properties worth millions of naira destroyed but today we can sleep with our two eyes closed”

The elder statesman therefore advised President Buhari to carry everybody along irrespective of party affiliations.

He said: “The President should remember that it was not APC that brought him to power but Nigerians voted for him hence the need to be President to all Nigerians and not APC alone.

In his welcome address, the convener of the event, who is the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) Political to the President, Rt Hon Gideon Stummani said the workshop was organized to showcase the achievements of the President in the last 2 years.

He enumerated some of the achievements as the President agenda against indiscipline and fight against corruption, N-Power Programme, Anchor borrowing, diversification of economy among others.

He stated further that President Buhari has restored Nigeria’s image abroad saying Nigerians are being respected all over the world as many international community are now willing to do business in the county without any fear or doubt.    (The Sun)

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Recoveries From Whistle-blower Policy Exceeded Our Expectations – Adeosun

Kemi-Adeosun-Ogun
                       Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun

Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, on Sunday said that the recoveries, which the Federal Government had made through the implementation of the whistle-blower policy, had exceeded its expectations.

Adeosun stated this in an article written by her and made available to our correspondent by her Special Adviser on Communications, Mr. Oluyinka Akintunde.

The whistle-blower policy, which was launched in December 2016, is aimed at addressing the issues of corruption in the management of government resources.

In the article entitled: ‘Positioning Nigeria for a prosperous future’, Adeosun stated that the government was doing a lot to stop the level of corrupt practices in the country.

The minister did not provide the total amount recovered under the policy. However, as of June this year, the ministry said that the sum of N11.63bn had been recovered under the whistle blower policy with about N375.8m paid to 20 providers of information.

Adeosun said that the implementation of the Treasury Single Account system had assisted the government in consolidating thousands of accounts scattered across Deposit Money Banks into a unified system that was transparent and easy to centrally monitor and track.

She said under the old system, it was common for government accounts to be converted into personal use, adding that with the TSA, this was no longer possible.

The minister stated that while there was a lot of resistance to reform by vested interests within and outside the system, the Federal Government would not relent in pursuing its reforms.   (Punch)

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EFCC Seals Maina’s Houses, Two Companies In Kaduna |The Republican News

From: Noah Ebije, Kaduna

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has sealed six houses and two companies allegedly belonging to the embattled former chairman of the Presidential Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina in Kaduna.

The sealed propery included a 2- storey shopping plaza located at number No. 2C Ibrahim Taiwo Road, a storey duplex at Katuru Road as well as four houses in Kawo new extension area, all in the state capital.

The EFCC also said two companies, allegedly belonging to Maina, were sealed as at Monday.

At the time of filing this report, the Kaduna Zonal Spokesman of EFCC, Kamiludeen Ibrahim, said more of such property were likely to be sealed as soon as they were identified.

Maina was dismissed in 2013 by the Federal Civil Service Commission, following a recommendation by the Office of the Head of Service.

He was accused of massive pension fraud scheme amounting to more than N100billion.

Recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered for the immediate firing of the former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdulrasheed Maina.

This was revealed by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement on Monday.

In a memo to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, the President equally demanded a full report of the circumstances of Maina’s recall and posting to the Ministry of Interior.

“The report is to be submitted to the office of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, before the end of work today, Monday, October 23, 2017,” part of the statement read.  (The Sun)

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We Will Soon Name All Suspected Looters – FG |The Republican News

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Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abukabar Malami (SAN) has been quoted to have said that President Muhammadu Buhari has directed all relevant agencies to compile documents on names of all looters with a view to promptly enforcing the judgment of a Federal High Court in Lagos ordering the government to release to Nigerians information about the names of high ranking public officials from whom public funds were recovered.

The court also ordered the government to tell Nigerians the circumstances under which funds were recovered, as well as the exact amount of funds recovered from each public official.

Mr Malami reportedly made the disclosure, on Wednesday, during a meeting at his office in Abuja with a delegation from Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP). This development was disclosed, on Thursday, in a statement by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni.

Mumuni said, “We had a very productive meeting with Mr Malami, discussing among other critical issues the need for the government to obey the judgment delivered in July by Hon Justice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari following a Freedom of Information suit number: FHC/CS/964/2016 brought by SERAP.”

According to Mumuni, “Mr Malami informed us that President Buhari has directed the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and other relevant agencies involved in the recovery of looted funds to promptly put the documents together with a view to fully and promptly enforcing the judgment by Justice Shagari.”

“We appreciate the opportunity to meet with the Attorney General of the Federation and look forward to working with him as the government strives to enforce this very important judgment. We hope that the implementation of the judgment will now happen sooner rather than later. We believe that effectively implementing the judgment will be a victory for the rule of law, show the way forward in the fight against corruption and impunity of perpetrators in the country, as well as demonstrate Buhari’s oft-repeated commitment to tackling the problem of grand corruption,” Mumuni added.

It would be recalled that the SERAP suit followed disclosure last year by the Federal Government of funds recovered from some high-ranking public officials and private individuals.

In her judgment delivered on 5th July 2017 Justice Shagari agreed with SERAP that “the Federal Government has legally binding obligations to tell Nigerians the names of all suspected looters of the public treasury past and present.” Joined as Defendants in the suit are the Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Muhammed and the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.

The same day that the judgment was delivered Mr Malami told reporters in Abuja that government was in agreement with the ruling and would carry out the order as long as it does not amount to subjudice.

Justice Shagari also granted the following reliefs:

A DECLARATION that by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the Defendants are under a binding legal obligation to provide the Plaintiff with up to date information relating to the following:

To widely disseminate including on a dedicated website information about the names of high ranking public officials from whom public funds were recovered since May 2015

The circumstances under which stolen public funds were returned

It would be recalled that the Ministry of Information last year published details of the recoveries, which showed that the Nigerian government successfully retrieved total cash amount N78,325,354,631.82, $185,119,584.61, £3,508,355.46 and €11, 250 between May 29, 2015 and May 25, 2016. Also released were recoveries under interim forfeiture, which were a combination of cash and assets, during the same period: N126,563,481,095.43, $9,090,243,920.15, £2,484,447.55 and €303,399.17. Anticipated repatriation from foreign countries totalled: $321,316,726.1, £6,900,000 and €11,826.11. The ministry also announced that 239 non-cash recoveries were made during the one-year period. The non-cash recoveries are – farmlands, plots of land, uncompleted buildings, completed buildings, vehicles and maritime vessels.

Subsequently, SERAP issued an FOI request and gave the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed 14 days to disclose the names of all suspected looters.

The request reads in part: “While we believe that suspects generally are entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction, SERAP opposes blanket non-disclosure of names of high-ranking public officials from whom some of the funds were recovered.”

“SERAP insists that the public interest to know is greater than any other legitimate interest that the government might wish to protect. The Nigerian government has an obligation to balance whether the risk of harm to the legitimate aim (that is secrecy of ongoing corruption investigation and presumption of innocence) from disclosure of the names of public officials is greater than the public interest in accessing the information.”

“SERAP believes that the recoveries, specifically from high-ranking public officials (and not private individuals), are matters of public interest. Publishing the names of those public officials will provide insights relevant to the public debate on the ongoing efforts to prevent and combat a culture of grand corruption in the country.”

“The gravity of the crime of grand corruption, the devastating effects on the socially and economically vulnerable sectors of the population, and the fact that recovery of huge funds from high-ranking public officials entrusted with the public treasury raise a prima-facie case and therefore amount to exceptional circumstances that justify naming those high-ranking officials in the public interest.”

“Publishing the names of public officials involved could go a long way in preventing senior public officials from turning the public treasury into a private cashbox. The public interest in publishing the names of the high-ranking government officials from whom funds were received outweighs any considerations to withhold the information, as there would be no prejudice against those whose names are published as long as the information is appropriately framed and truthful.”

“While the government in some limited cases can legitimately place restrictions on the public’s right to access certain information, attempts of the Nigerian authorities to justify the total closure of information related to the names of public officials from whom funds were recovered on the basis of “ongoing criminal investigation” and “presumption of innocence goes far beyond the limitations allowed under international law, and would promote secret recoveries.”

“The information being requested is not related to detailed investigatory activities of anticorruption agencies regarding the recoveries so far made. Similarly, the mere fact that the information being requested is related to ongoing investigation does not necessarily mean that the information could not be disclosed. In addition, governmental agency has the obligation to prove that the disclosure of the names of public officials would disrupt, impede, or otherwise harm the ongoing or pending investigations or presumption of innocence.”        (The Sun)

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Buhari Administration Scored High On Anti-Corruption |The Republican News

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The Anti-Corruption Research and Data-Based Initiative (ARDI) has scored President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration high in the fight against corruption.

Dennis Aghanya, Executive Secretary of ARDI, gave the present administration the pass mark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.

“I will score Mr President very high especially in the fight against corruption. He may not have achieved completely the expectations of everybody, but he has achieved quite above average and that is encouraging,” Aghanya said.

“Fighting corruption is all about the reorientation of our moral and ethical values which requires changing the psychology and the unethical, age-long mindset of the society from bad to good.

The ARDI boss said that fighting corruption could not be achieved overnight.

“First, he is working hard to strengthen the existing anti-corruption agencies so that they can meet up with modern challenges in that sector.

“He even went further to introduce more agencies by constituting the Special Presidential Panel on Recovery of Public Property Act, 1983.

“Then he has gone further to consolidate on his strategies with various Executive Orders. How else would one indicate sincere interest to fight corruption?

“These steps help to lay an enduring foundation in the fight against corruption,” he said.

Aghanya noted that it was the first time Nigeria produced a president who clearly supported the fight against corruption, saying that “fight against corruption’’ is virtually on the lips of all and sundry.

He said the impact of Buhari’s milestone achievements would be felt by Nigerians, urging the president to remain focused in his determination to get the country back on the right path.

“It is usually very easy to destroy, but most difficult to amend. We will get it right because we are now on the right path, but it will certainly take some time,” he said.

(Source: NAN)

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