President Muhammadu Buhari has said he appointed a committee to audit all assets recovered by Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies because of perceived “gaps” in accounting processes.
Mr. Buhari had on Wednesday inaugurated a three-member committee to audit assets recovered by relevant government agencies.
Members of the committee are Olufemi Lijadu, Chinyere Bibiogha and Mohammad Nami.
In his remarks after he swore in members of the committee, the president said pursuant to requisite directives from his office, “recovered assets are progressively being returned to designated accounts by the anti-graft agencies and other agencies of Government involved with the process.”
He also said in the course of implementing the exercise and given the number of agencies who are concurrently pursuing specialised initiatives and making recoveries for government, “it has become obvious that fundamental gaps still exist in ensuring that the recovered assets are accounted for, and managed in an accurate, transparent and logical manner.”
He said it was in realisation of that and due to his determination to ensure that in pursuing the anti-graft war, his administration did create new room for dishonorable conduct by any individual or agency that he directed, earlier in the year, that all agencies should send in detailed reports of all their recovered assets as at March, 2017.
“The decision to inaugurate this Audit Committee on the Recovery and Management of Stolen Assets within and outside Nigeria today is therefore the next step in ensuring that all returns filed by the various agencies are accurate and consistent with actual recoveries made.
“The committee, in essence, is therefore expected to judiciously undertake an audit of all recovery accounts established by government agencies from the date of opening such accounts up to 10th April, 2017,” he said.
Mr. Buhari also said since assumption of office, the APC administration under him had pursued a strong and effective anti-corruption regime.
He said the government identified multiple cases of mis-managed and misappropriated national assets.
He also said the administration embarked on tracing and recovery of all such stolen assets within and outside Nigeria using all legal and diplomatic resources at its disposal.
“The gains of our initiatives over the past two and a half years have been very obvious to all Nigerians. This is clear from the level of investigation, prosecution and forfeitures involving both public and private sector officials in the country.
“The message has therefore been passed loud and clear that never again as a nation are we going to allow the wanton diversion and embezzlement of public funds to private pockets,” he said.
While directing all relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Banks, and Companies to give the committee full cooperation, Mr. Buhari reminded members of the committee that “your assignment is crucial not only to the harvesting of needed resources for our national development but also in setting out a fresh template of public accountability.”
He said where it becomes necessary, the committee will rely on existing laws to compel the production of information and will also have the benefit of necessary interventions by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in obtaining such information through legal processes.
“The committee is hereby given a time frame of four weeks to finish this assignment and submit its report to my office. I look forward to receiving your report and recommendations in due course and I wish you the best of luck in this assignment,” the president said.