By Emman Ovuakporie
ABUJA-THE Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, yesterday confirmed the recovery of N867 billion; $66.258 million and 13.847 euro corruption proceeds in 2017 financial year.
According to the anti-graft crusader, funds recovered by the commission include: GBP 294,851.82; Dirha 443400 and 70,500 South African Rand within the period under review.
The EFCC helmsman, who disclosed this during the 2017/2018 budget defence, held at the instance of the House Committee on Financial Crimes, expressed delight over the financial and operational autonomy of Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, with the approval of Budget Office of the Federation and Accountant General of the Federation.
The documents made available to journalists showed that the final forfeiture of N32 billion and $5 million was recovered from Diezani Allison-Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum Resources; recovery and final forfeiture of N449 million at Legico Plaza in Victoria Island, Lagos and final forfeiture of over $43 million discovered in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Others include: Recovery of N329 billion from petroleum marketers by the Commission’s Kano office; withholding tax recovery of over N27.7 billion from banks; 6.6 million euro recovered from Nigerian Ports Authority; recoveries of about N1.1 billion on behalf of AMCON; recovery of subsidy fraud funds of over N4 billion.
In addition, the commission recorded total recoveries between January to December, 2017 of: N473,065,195,977.50; $98,258,124.97; GBP 294,851.82; 7,247,363.75 euro; Dirham 443,400 and South African Rand 70,500, respectively.
While speaking on the ongoing plan to ensure independence of Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, Magu said: “In the course of the outgoing financial year, the NFIU was granted self accounting status by both the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Budget Office. Effective date of implementation is January 1, 2018.”
While expressing concern over the delay in the release of funds for the discharge of the commission’s activities, Magu lamented that the “delayed and irregular release of the overhead component of the recurrent vote affected the commission’s investigation and prosecution activities, especially in the zones.”
Out of the total sum of total sum of N17,202,253,360 appropriated in 2017, only N11,737,492,342.07 (68%) has so far been released out of which N9,759,277,008.53 has been utilized.
From the sum of N7,127,316,354 appropriated for personnel, N6,533,373,324 was released; from N3,000,713,298 appropriated for overhead only N1,667,007,163.70 has been released while from N7,074,223,708 appropriated for capital expenditure, only N3,537,111,853.87 was released to the commission so far.
While responding to questions on the whistle blowing policy, Magu disclosed that the incentives promised by Federal Government were being paid promptly, including the Ikoyigate whistle blower; while more Nigerians were being encouraged to join in the campaign across the country.
He noted that the commissioning of the newly constructed headquarters of EFCC will take place in April, 2018.
For 2018 financial year, from the N45 billion proposed by the Commission, it was reduced to over N21 billion, thereby incapacitating the activities of the Commission.
In his intervention, Samuel Ekon (PDP-Akwa Ibom), argued that corruption remained the bane of Nigeria’s development, and harped on the need to ensure adequate budgetary allocation for the commission as a demonstration of political in the ongoing fight against corruption.
Speaking on the NFIU budget, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP-Abia), stressed the need for adequate budgetary allocation for the unit to function effectively.
He also emphasized the need for robust networking with relevant international and local agencies that will aid the discharge of its statutory functions.
Rasaq Atunwa (APC-Kwara) tasked NFIU on the need to have robust ICT facility that will help it in tracking financial related information.
In his remarks, Francis Usani, NFIU Director, who confirmed the autonomy of the unit, disclosed that all security issues relating to the operations of NFIU had been put in place.
According to him, of the N2.903 billion proposed for 2018, N339.350 million is for personnel cost; N22.500 million for meals and refreshment to cater for numerous sub-regional, national and internal meetings, while N26.500 million is required for publicity and advertisement for stakeholders in the financial sector.
“We will continue to be committed in the NFIU to doing our best and remaining the champion FIU within the West African subregion and Africa as a whole, and with the kind of support you have shown to us, we will remain focused in our mandate to support all LEAs in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world to fight financial crimes and money laundering as well as terrorism financing,” Usani noted.