Anti Corruption Fight: FGN recovers $667m, N57bn – Malami

    • N7b, $10m from private homes

    The anti-corruption crusade of the Federal Government has so far yielded N57.9b and $US666.676m, according to Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami (SAN).

    Of this amount, N7billion and $10million cash was recovered  from private residences of former public officers, the minister said in an update on the crusade.

    Malami revealed the figures while defending the 2017 Appropriation bill of the ministry before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters at the National Assembly in Abuja.

    But he was silent on the identity of the individuals in whose houses the money was recovered.

    The farthest he went was that the recovered funds include “the N50b fine paid by MTN (a telecommunication company), N7m and $10m (recovered from private residences) and N90m (which was voluntarily returned).”

    Malami’s spokesman Salihu Isah also quoted him as saying   “$250m found to be proceeds of illegal oil bunkering has been temporarily forfeited to the government; $136.676m is awaiting actual remittance, while $270 FG’s fund has also been recovered from commercial banks.”

    The Attorney General said the ministry operated through 2016 without capital budget.

    “Our budgetary proposal of N18, 528,093,480.00 was not appropriated thereby compelling the Ministry to operate on a zero capital budget,” he said.

    “I am happy to state however, that we as a ministry recorded modest achievements in the act of contributing to the revenue generation of the federal government notwithstanding the zero capital budgets,” Malami said.

    The AGF said a of N 6,914,774,768.00 was earmarked for the Ministry in the 2017 budget as against N3, 921,612,815 last year

    He explained that the Ministry plans to spend N4,278,824,404. 00 on personnel cost, N1,000,006,899.00 on legal services, N946,834,670.00 on overhead and N689,108,794.00 on capital projects.

    He explained that the personnel cost will also cover allowances of Nigerian lawyers providing legal services within the sub-region and the recently approved harmonization of salaries of lawyers in the Ministry.

    Malami stressed that the legal services sub-head caters for the core mandate of the ministry, including payment of legal fees to external solicitors engaged by the Ministry.

    “This sub head has been allocated the sum of N1, 000,006,898.00 (One billion, six thousand, eight hundred and ninety nine naira) as against N843, 563,146.00 allocated in 2016, representing an increase of N156, 443,753.00” about 18.5% increase.

    “Given the enormous additional responsibilities on the ministry arising from the passage of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 as well as the increase in the quantum of other activities currently being pursued by the Ministry, this amount is unarguably, grossly inadequate and will unfortunately over stretch the Ministry capacity to cope to the maximum in the light of the prevailing realities,” Malami said.

    He expressed optimism that, the N689, 108,794.00 allocated to the ministry for 2017 capital projects will boost the Ministry’s performance index.

    “The projects, if implemented, will greatly enhance our capacity for effectiveness and improved service delivery and undoubtedly encourage and motivate our lawyers to give their best in the service of our dear nation”, the AGF maintained.

    Responding to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege’s comment on the payment of outstanding judgment debts, Malami explained that he was conscious and perturbed, adding that concerted efforts are ongoing to offset the outstanding and probably abate future debts.

    “I have a cause to sign a letter sent to the Budget Office this morning before leaving my office to attend to this national calling and constitutional responsibility.

    “If the desired response was not gotten from the Budget Office between now and Monday next week, I will fall back on the committee for emergency executive meeting on the way out of the judgment debts outstanding,” Malami said.

    A few weeks back, Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed announced that the newly introduced whistle blowing policy of the government had led to the recovery of over $151m (N46bn) and N8bn looted funds.

    Mohammed said at the time that the looted funds, which did not include the $9.2m in cash recovered from a Kaduna house owned by a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Andrew Yakubu.

    He said the money recovery was made possible by three whistle blowers.

    “When we told Nigerians that there was a primitive and mindless looting of the national treasury under the last administration, some people called us liars,” he said.

    “Well, the whistle-blower policy is barely two months old and Nigerians have started feeling its impact, seeing how a few people squirreled away public funds.

    “It is doubtful if any economy in the world will not feel the impact of such mind-boggling looting of the treasury as was experienced in Nigeria.

    ‘’Yet, whatever has been recovered so far, including the $9.2m by the EFCC, is just a tip of the iceberg.’’