The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has called onÂ President Umaru Yarâ€™ Adua to urgently instruct the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) and the Auditor Generalâ€™s Office (AGO) to begin a transparent auditing of the spending of the recovered stolen public funds since the return of civil rule in 1999, and to publish widely the outcome of such auditing.
The group in an open letter by its Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni, to President Yarâ€™Adua said â€œdespite your governmentâ€™s oft-expressed commitment to the anti-corruption fight in the country, questions remain as to the governmentâ€™s lack of transparency and openness in the spending of recovered stolen public funds, estimated at N600 billion, by both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).â€
The group warned that,Â if the Federal Government fails to order the audit within 14 days, the it will take all appropriate legal actions nationally and internationally to compel your government to comply with Nigeriaâ€™s voluntary international anti-corruption commitments.
According to the group,Â â€œour investigation reveals strong and credible evidence to suggest that most of the recovered funds may have been re-stolen, misused or mismanaged. However, it should be noted that the recovered N600 billion is only a paltry of over $400 billion, which the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes said had been stolen by high level Nigerian public officials.â€
â€œThe governmentâ€™s lack of transparency, accountability and full disclosure in the spending of recovered loot is aptly illustrated by the secrecy surrounding the spending of recovered funds from the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha (about $1.9 billion returned); the former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun (about N10 billion returned); and the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha (about $1.9 million returned),â€ it added.
It is therefore calling on Yarâ€™Adua to urgently instruct the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) and the Auditor Generalâ€™s Office (AGO) to begin a transparent auditing of the spending of the recovered stolen public funds, since the return of civil rule in 1999; and to publish widely the outcome of such auditing, including on a dedicated website.
The auditing should find out how much of stolen public funds have so far been recovered, and the use to which the funds recovered have been put. Where recovered funds are lodged in bank accounts, the auditing should discover how much interests have accrued to such funds
It also want the establishment of a presidential advisory and monitoring team to track the spending of recovered stolen funds, and to regularly publish information on the purposes for which the funds are used.
This team, it added should work closely with and share information and intelligence with anti-corruption agencies such as the ICPC and EFCC.