In a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday, the Minister said the strategy has proven so effective that it has led to, among others, the recovery of 40 brand new SUVs and other vehicles from one former Permanent Secretary who single-handedly appropriated the vehicles to himself when he left office
He said the federal government is not just fixated on prosecution alone but is also taking preventive measures to make corruption unattractive
Alhaji Mohammed listed the strict enforcement of the Treasury Singles Account (TSA), which has largely reduced the diversion of government funds into various secret accounts, and the constant fishing out of ghost workers in the public service, which many states are now adopting, as some of the preventive measures against corruption.
He however said some other measures have been perfected to strengthen the anti-corruption fight, adding that the measures include the establishment of the Presidential Committee on Asset Recovery and the Asset Tracing Committee; the setting up of an Asset Register, and the Whistle Blower Policy.
The Minister also announced the plan by the government – working through the Code of Conduct Bureau – to commence, starting in 2017, a trial run of electronic asset declaration to facilitate compliance and also to search and retrieve data on the assets of public officers
In addition, he said, the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption is working with relevant MDAs, especially the National Bureau of Statistics, to improve data collection on corruption indicators generally.
”Once perfected, the data will be shared with government
periodically, if possible as regularly as government receives data on inflation and unemployment trends, to indicate trends in corruption and influence government measures to correct the situation before it gets out of hand as we have now,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
Expatiating on the Presidential Committee on Asset Recovery, he said it meets regularly to take reports from key law enforcement agencies on government’s anti-corruption effort, share information and intelligence, review the challenges being faced in the anti-corruption efforts generally and give directives on the way forward.
”This same body, on the recommendation of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, has directed a centralized management of recovered looted assets through the Central Asset Management Committee under the leadership of Minister of Finance as legal custodian of government asset.
”This singular move has reduced the opportunity for re-looting of
recovered assets that was prevalent under previous regime. By this measure, EFCC, ICPC and all asset recovery law enforcement agencies are mandatorily required to furnish the Minister of Finance with full details of recovered asset whether cash or otherwise,” the Minister said, adding that data reconciliation will soon be completed and the information will be made available to the public.
On the Asset Register, he said it has made very difficult the looting of government physical assets, most notably vehicles, by departing political appointees as well as senior and middle level officers.
Alhaji Mohammed said the recently approved Whistle Blower policy is designed to further enhance government’s effort to recover looted funds, noting: ”People who give credible and useful information to government that leads to recovery of stolen public assets will be
rewarded with between 2.5% – 5% of the recovered fund and government will keep the identity of the whistle blower absolutely confidential.”
He said the government is finalizing the constitution of an Asset Tracing Team to work with internationally reputably bodies to trace and recover public assets in private pockets.
”In this regard, government will also escalate the use of non-conviction-based asset recovery methods to boost revenue and diminish corruption and the perception that crime pays or criminals can keep their loot. The Federal Government is getting Nigerians in diaspora and international civil society organizations involved in the campaign for return of looted assets,” the Minister added.
Like I suggested sometimes ago, Nigeria can’t optimize her development potentials until we stamp out corruption or drastically reduce it. There is a sense in Nigeria now that corruption is not welcomed any longer. Thanks to our President, Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed and many other APC Leaders who have supported Mr. Buhari.
Time and things must change. No more business as usual. It will get real bad before it gets better; no pain no gain. See my write-up on a feasible way to fight looters who have rendered our country hopelessly poor and innocent citizens now suffer.
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Personally, I don’t think that the killing or execution of past corrupt state and federal government officials will solve our government, civilians, politicians and military officials’ embezzlement and looting problems. My suggestion is that they should simply be asked to return all their stolen wealth and 10% of it should be given back to them as interest or incentive for safekeeping Nigerians money.
Can you imagine the billions of dollars, pounds, euros, Dutch marks, etc. deposited by corrupt officials in foreign banks and the properties and businesses that they have set up world-wide with the stolen money? If Nigeria can recoup 50% of the stolen money/other public resources and use the funds for improving Nigerian education, infrastructure, agriculture, pipe-borne water supply, energy & power supply, security enforcement, and job creation for millions of displaced youths and job seekers, Nigeria will be better than Dubai, USA, and England.
The death or execution of corrupt officials should apply to those who are found to have embezzled public funds but refused to return the fund within the specified grace period. I hope this suggestion makes sense, it provides the looters the opportunity to return the wealth of our Nation and at the same time be free to start afresh.
Prof. Francis Osita Onukwuli
National Publicity Secretary, APC USA