By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — Two top officials of the Federal Government have provided contradictory figures on the looted funds already recovered by government.
The Muhammadu Buhari administration has made the recovery of looted funds, as well as prosecution of culprits, one of the focus of its anti-corruption war.
While the Director General of the Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze, said in December that N72 billion had already been recovered, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, said, yesterday, that N15 billion and $10.5 million (about N3.2 billion), making a total of N18.2 billion, had so far been recovered.
The difference between the two provided figures is over N50 billion and the larger sum was first stated, removing any possibility that the latter figure was an update on the earlier one.
It is possible that the figure provided by the Attorney General represents only that of the Justice ministry while that of the Budget Office represents that of the others, or of all ministries, departments and agencies; but that distinction was not made by the officials.
Akabueze made his disclosure while answering questions at the public presentation of the 2017 budget proposal at the State House, Abuja, on December 19.
He said N72 billion of the money had already been recovered, and the targeted N258 billion would be used to partly fund the 2017 budget.
Yesterday, Malami disclosed his figure in Abuja when the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters visited the ministry on its oversight function to appraise the 2016 budget performance of the ministry.
He said: “Oover N15 billion has been recovered by the ministry and $10.5 million was equally recovered in that direction.”
None of the two federal officials provided a detailed breakdown of the looted funds including from whom and when.
The Justice Minister said that exclusive of the recoveries, the revenue profile of his ministry as at December 31, 2016, was N12.4 million.
He said this was generated from sale of journals, renting of part of the headquarters building to commercial entities, use of its conference hall, tender fees and sale of un-serviceable items.
He added that the total expenditure profile of the ministry within the same period was N3.7 billion, including personnel and non-regular allowances.