$1 billion looted funds recovered since 2015


From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, AbujaThe federal government revealed on Wednesday that $1 billion had been recovered so far under the Buhari administration.The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, stated this while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcomes of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.According to Malami, the recovered assets have been deployed to various sectors of the economy including poverty alleviation.He disclosed that the federal government had recorded only 109 convictions before 2015, while the Buhari administration convicted over 3,000 offenders and recovered about $1 billion to date.He said FEC approved the validation extension of the Anti-corruption Strategy Document 2022 to 2026.Malami also expressed the government’s concern over cases of budget padding, which he described as worrisome, noting that every necessary measure would be explored to address it.The AGF, while responding to questions on budget padding, expressed disappointment with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) engaged in budget padding.Recall the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, had blamed the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, for adding N206bn to the humanitarian ministry’s budget.While appearing before the Senate Committee on Special Duties on Monday to defend the 2023 budget, Farouq claimed that the ministry requested some projects for the North East Development Commission and the National Social Safety Net Project in the 2022 budget, which were not released, but was surprised to see an inflated amount in the 2023 budget of the ministry.The Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen Bashir Magashi (retd) had also told the senate that Ahmed inserted a total of N11 billion into its 2023 budget.Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire also accused the finance minister of budget padding.Malami who was responding to questions on the revelations about budget padding coming out from the National Assembly stated that the federal government is studying the revelations and will do what is necessary to address it.“Whichever way one looks at it, budget padding is bad, because if you budget N5 billion for road and N3 billion of that fund is diverted, it means the government has lost that money and it will take a longer period to complete the project“The Government is concerned and will do what is necessary to address the issue.”Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola revealed that FEC approved a budget augmentation of N14 billion on the Kano Western bypass, awarded to Dantata and Sawo.The road project was raised from N22 billion to 36.89 billion.“The need to include a flyover and more hydronic facilities to drain water, necessitated the augmentation” adding that “this will link the Kano Maiduguri highway.He said the contract was inherited from previous administrations but the Muhammadu Buhari administration is determined to complete it.“The Ministry of Works and Housing presented a council memo to get approval for the augmentation of the contract price for the completion of the Kano Western bye-pass which we inherited. The project had essentially not been funded in previous budget years.“We are now executing it by the Sukuk Bond. Council considered and approved the augmentation which was for N14.095 billion. Some of the items covered by the augmentation include the old amount for Value Added Tax (VAT), which was increased from 5-7.5 per cent.“Others are the need to construct a flyover at Dawano International Market interchange and also the need to construct more hydraulic facilities to help drain water, especially in the parts of the road that pass through the city centres and towns and the council approved this,” he explained.The Minister added that when completed, the road will link the Kano-Maiduguri highway which is almost completed.Fashola also said the Ministry sought and got the council’s approval to use the funds approved for the construction of a trailer park along the Enugu-Port Harcourt highway, to complete the main carriageway.“This is because of the litigation we are facing from the communities where the trailer park is to be located, whose land was acquired for the construction of the park. In order not to delay the completion of the main carriageway and also in order to optimise today’s pricing, we sought approval and the council approved that based on the recommendation of the Bureau for Public Procurement,” he explained.

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