President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday slammed the National Assembly for delaying the passage of Proceeds of Crimes Bill presently before it.
Buhari, who spoke during the submission of the report of the Presidential Committee set up to audit recovered funds, said a key tool that would revolutionize the country’s asset recovery and management architecture is the Proceeds of Crimes Bill.
“Once the Bill is passed and assented, many of the challenges facing our asset recovery and management practice will be adequately taken care of as the Bill addresses most of the challenges facing effective asset recovery and management in Nigeria,” he said.
He therefore urged the National Assembly to take necessary steps to pass the Bill.
He assured Nigerians that his administration would continue to keep faith with the promise to fight corruption, adding that, “we shall remain committed until Nigeria triumphs over the evil of corruption, attain a prosperous economic status and surmounts all her security challenges.”
He said that the findings and recommendations of the Committee would be carefully examined and given due consideration with a view to implementing the recommendations.
“Our asset recovery and management system will in future be transparently, effectively and efficiently managed, and we will set-out a fresh template of public accountability in the country,” he said.
The President said corruption constituted a threat to the well-being, national security, and economy of Nigeria.
He further added that: “I have made it clear that this government will not allow the wanton diversion and embezzlement of public funds into private pockets. Thus, we intend to continue taking all necessary measures to deprive looters of public assets of the fruits of their crimes.
“It is in keeping with the Anti-corruption Policy of this Government, and in line with global best practices that this Committee was set-up to review our asset recovery and management practices in order to evolve a proper management, transparency and accountability culture in the management of recovered assets.
“Given our history of impunity, much of Nigeria’s wealth has historically been squandered or stolen; leaving us with inadequate infrastructure for our growing population and economy. Asset Recovery is thus one of the essential tools for fighting corruption and we must therefore take issues of managing such recovered assets very seriously.”
Buhari said proceeds of the recoveries must be optimally utilized to address economic and social problems, and loopholes for stealing public funds must be blocked.
The three man panel said N769bn cash was recovered in the period under review.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami said the federal government recovered N13.8bn from tax evaders in May 2018.
He said in May 2018 government paid N439.2m to 14 whistle blowers who gave specific information on tax evasion.
“Again N3.8 million, $378 million US, 27,800 pounds was equally recovered from public officials. In summary the recovered funds by the three man committee is N769 billion naira cash,” he said.
The National Assembly could not be reached for response to the president remarks last night.