THE discrepancies that have emerged over the exact figures of funds and worth of assets recovered so far by the anti-graft agencies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, are becoming worrisome. The EFCC under its Acting Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, is in the habit of reporting its fund recoveries in the media.
For instance, in November 2017, Magu peddled the sum of N739 billion (over two billion US Dollars) as the amount recovered in the first two years of his stewardship. In February this year, it claimed that it recovered over N500 billion in 2017 alone.
But in a letter issued on February 9, 2018, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said records available to the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, OAGF, had only N91.4 billion as amounts recovered since 2015. In that letter, Adeosun requested the EFCC to clarify where the cash recoveries were deposited, with documentary evidence.
We not only support that the truth behind these discrepant figures be ascertained, we recommend that the EFCC and all other anti-graft agencies should no longer keep custody of funds and property recovered. They should be handed over to the appropriate authorities which are constitutionally mandated to hold the nation’s assets or directly to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for eventual onward transmission to the Federation Account when all legal issues surrounding them have been discharged.
It is totally unacceptable that the Federal Ministry of Finance, FMoF, is in the dark about amounts recovered from those who allegedly pillaged the nation’s treasury. It is also baffling that two departments of the same government should have different figures as recovered amounts. It could be an indication that something funny might be going on in between.
We should always be guided by our past experiences. There is no reason for the EFCC to continue to hold on to recovered funds when the Commission has not yet clarified the truth or falsehood of an allegation that its immediate past Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde, “diverted” N2.05 trillion recovered funds. A security expert, Mr George Uboh, who had blown this whistle on the former EFCC boss, had even dragged the matter before the Senate in August 2015 but somehow, the issue has mysteriously fizzled out.
Commonsense and propriety demand that recovered funds should be handled with utmost care and transparency such that members of the public to whom the funds belong would easily track what is being recovered and how it is being spent. It is this lack of transparency and accountability that is brewing allegations of recovered funds being “re-looted” by public officials.
If we are to make progress in arresting endemic corruption in Nigeria, the anti-graft war must be totally depoliticised and re-jigged.