The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has said its contribution to the fight against corruption in Nigeria has resulted in the use of recovered loot to better the lives of vulnerable Nigerians.
The Chairperson of the PACAC, Itse Sagay, said this, on Tuesday, while briefing the press on some of the achievements of the committee.
He said around N1 billion stolen funds have been recovered by anti-graft agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
He said the recovered monies are pumped into the budget and a portion used for social development to improve the lives of the most vulnerable Nigerians.
“Total recoveries are hovering around the 1 trillion Naira mark, and even more remarkably, these recoveries have been recycled into the budget to uplift the oppressed and most vulnerable victims of corruption, namely, the young unemployed youths, young school children, who can now enjoy one free nutritional meal a day at school, extremely poor families who now receive the conditional cash transfer of N5,000 a month and women, youths, farmers, etc, who now receive interest free loans to capitalize their small scale businesses,” Mr Sagay said.
The committee chairperson said asides from the recovery of loot, PACAC carries out capacity building for antigraft officers, prosecutors, and investigators to enable them to execute their duties effectively.
“We have conducted over 60 activities, many workshops and seminars for the judiciary, from the magistracy to appellate courts. Other beneficiaries include prosecutors and anti-corruption agencies.
“This has resulted in these stakeholders having an improved understanding of their individual roles in the criminal justice system, both in its substantive and procedural aspects.
“The impact of this effort is reflected in the increased number of cases filed and concluded and the improvement in the rate of conviction of looters,” he said.
Focus on illicit financial flows
Mr Sagay said one of the striking contributions of PACAC in the war against corruption is the Committee’s concentration on illicit financial flows – an act of illegally moving money from developing countries to the coffers of developed countries.
PREMIUM TIMES, in Pandora Papers, exposed the secret deals and hidden assets of high-profile politicians, public officials, clergymen and lawmakers in offshore companies.
Part of the persons whose hidden assets and ‘dirty’ billions in offshore companies were exposed include Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra state; Kebbi state governor, Abubakar Bagudu; Stella Ogene, a Nigerian judge; David Oyedepo, founder of Living Faith Church; Dapo Abiodun, governor of Ogun state; and others.
The PACAC chair, Mr Sagay, said the EFCC had started inviting people that were indicted in the report.
“Based on the Pandora Papers, investigation is ongoing,” he said.
Mr Sagay said very little was known about illicit financial flows (IFF) in Nigeria until PACAC brought it to the centre stage nationally and internationally.
“Now, we know that this silent, quietly stalking source of financial bleeding, could even be worse in terms of volume of loss, than the typical looting we are all used to.”
Listing other forms of financial crimes by public officials in Nigeria, Mr Sagay said they are, over-invoicing of external expenses; underreporting of resources obtained from the developing countries; tax evasion; under declaration of profits; and outsourcing of what could be done within the victim country.
“The massive losses underdeveloped countries like Nigeria are experiencing as a result of IFFs were recently documented and published by Global Financial Integrity. According to its Report, Nigeria lost US$83 billion in the period 1960 – 2011 and currently, it is losing more than USD 45 billion annually.
“Therefore, the importance of concentrating our minds on IFFs, as PACAC did for two consecutive years, through major international conferences and other strategic engagements, cannot be overstated,” Mr Sagay said.
He said in addition to the advisory role of the committee to the president, PACAC has produced manuals and protocols to assist the anti-corruption agencies in their war against corruption.
Mr Sagay further said the advisory role of the PACAC has led to a “sharp uptake” in the achievements of antigraft agencies, with the EFCC securing 3,000 convictions for corruption, including high-profile politicians, in the last six years.
He added that the ICPC between 2019 and July 2020, has investigated and seen to the return of about 300 companies, contractors and project sponsors who abandoned, diverted or under-delivered on approved and funded projects under zonal intervention projects (ZIPs).
“Over 2,000 companies were brought into tax net by ICPC profiling companies under investigation. This has significantly improved government tax revenue in collaboration with FIRS,” he said.
ICPC has also recovered billions from different agencies, ministries, contractors and developers.
Mr Sagay disclosed that the ICPC has over 200 cases ongoing in court, with 25 convictions secured in 2019. The agency also recently exposed two civil servants who have over 360 houses in Abuja.
He added that the anti-corruption agencies have lots of work to do in fighting corruption and that the PACAC will continue to support them.
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