President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated an Audit Committee on the Recovery of Stolen Assets, within and outside Nigeria.
The committee has three members and is expected to submit a report in four weeks to the president.
The members are: Mr. Olufemi Lijadu; Mrs. Gloria Chinyere Bibigha and Mr. Mohammed Nami. The panel starts work immediately.
The committee is to audit all recovered monies and assets up till April 10, 2017.
According to Buhari, the gains of the anti-corruption war are enormous, and warned that his administration will not allow wanton diversion of funds.
He said recovered funds are to be deposited in designated accounts and managed transparently.
The president also directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as all relevant anti-graft agencies to cooperate with the committee.
The president said: “I, hereby, direct and request all relevant ministries, departments and agencies, banks, and companies to give the committee full cooperation as 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.
“Where it becomes necessary, the committee will, of course, 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, where so required.
“I look forward to receiving your report and recommendations in due course and I wish you the best of luck in this assignment.”
According to Buhari, it was the resolve of his administration, since inception, to pursue a strong and effective anti-corruption regime and, in view of multiple cases of mis-managed and misappropriated national assets, identified by his administration that it embarked on tracing and recovery of all such stolen assets within and outside Nigeria using all legal and diplomatic resources at our disposal.
Buhari added: “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.
“Nigerians will further recall that pursuant to requisite directives, recovered assets are progressively being returned to designated accounts by the anti-graft agencies and other agencies of government involved with the process. In the course of implementing this 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 recovered assets are accounted for…”
and managed in an accurate, transparent and logical manner. It was in realisation of this…I 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. The details of the Committee’s functions are as set out in your Terms of Reference.”
President Buhari while congratulating the members of the committee on their appointments, urged them to perform their duties diligently in the best interests of Nigeria.
The trio of Lijadu, Bibigha and Nami, assured that they will carry out the assignments to the best of their ability and ensure President Buhari is not disappointed.