A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has urged the Nigerian government to jettison its plan to secure a $3.5 billion (about N700 billion) loan from the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
In a letter to the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Falana said instead of taking the loan, the government should direct the anti-graft agencies to recover all loans and revenues accruable to it.
“From the information at our disposal, the federal government is owed not less than $66.5 billion (about N13.3 trillion) which ought to be recovered without any further delay,” Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, stated in the letter dated February 5.
According to Mr. Falana, the five cycles of independent audit reports compiled by the National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, showed potential recoverable revenues of not less than $20.2 billion.
“The potential recoverable revenues are said to have arisen from ‘underpayment/under-assessment of taxes, royalties, levies and rents.’
“If you require more information in respect of this matter you may wish to contact your colleague, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning. In her capacity as the immediate past Executive Secretary of NEITI she had called on the federal government to recover the said sum of $20.2 billion.”
Mr. Falana said the Central Bank of Nigeria, in 2006, apportioned $7 billion out of the nation’s external reserves to 14 Nigerian banks to “manage.”
“The amount involved represented 18.39 percent of the total external reserves at the material time,” he said.
“In addition, following the crisis of global capitalism, which occurred in 2008, the Central Bank of Nigeria gave a bailout of $4 billion (N600 billion) to the commercial banks in the country.
“The CBN has not deemed it fit to ask for the refund of the total sum of $11 billion injected into the banking system in the space of two years.”
Mr. Falana also said the Presidency, in September last year, announced the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s commencement of recovering of $9.6 billion in over deducted tax benefits from joint venture partners on major capital projects and oil swap contracts.
Two weeks ago, Mr. Falana continued, Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation, disclosed that the federal government had concluded arrangements to recover an additional $750 million from the “Abacha loot.”
“In the ongoing Senate Probe into the affairs of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), it has been revealed that the corporation had accumulated over $25 billion (about N5 trillion) debts as against its Act which put the debt ceiling at N800 billion,” said Mr. Falana.
“According to Mr. Ahmed Kuru, the Managing Director of AMCON, ‘most of the debtors of AMCON are big men who fly in private jets, live in big mansions and they have taken money and they are not paying back.’
“From the foregoing, you will agree with us that the hapless Nigerian people should not be made to pay for the gross mismanagement of the national economy by the federal government and the profligacy of the pampered members of the ruling class.
“While acknowledging the concerted efforts to recover the looted wealth of the nation through the anti-graft agencies and the Arms Procurement Panel, the Buhari administration should embark on the immediate recovery of the aforesaid loans and accrued revenues with a view to financing the 2016 budget and the infrastructural development of the nation.”