Despite recovering stolen Nigerian money, President Muhammadu Buhari might not be able to spend the monies on urgent needs of the country, the chairman Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay has revealed.
Speaking with Punch newspaper, the Professor of law said the Federal Government has set up an account for the stolen funds.
“Regarding the funds frozen under the interim forfeiture, the Federal Government can’t touch it for now because certain cases have not been concluded and the forfeiture is interim because technically, the court can order the release to the owners if the occasion demands it but if it goes the other way, there will be a permanent forfeiture order and that is when the properties would accrue to the government and would therefore be used for the benefit of Nigerians,” Professor Sagay said.
He added that the decision not to name looters was made in a bid to encourage others, who had stolen, to return money.
“The way I see it, it is more political than legal. It is not party politics but about conduct. I believe the government feels that if you name names, those who are about to come out and also bring out whatever has been looted, would withdraw.
“On the legal side, I don’t see the problem that is being talked about because once a person is going to be charged to court for corruption or illegally acquiring resources, there is no liability in announcing it.
“After all, we have been seeing the names of all those accused and charged. So, the main reason is to encourage others, who are still hiding their loot and speculating what to do, to come out and hand over the loot so that the country can recover more of what has been stolen.”
Speaking further, he said the decision not to name looters might also have been in a bid not to embarrass some Nigerians who received government funds without knowing that the money was for arms or that the money was stolen.
“There are some people who actually received those assets and money without knowing that it was stolen or whose knowledge of the source would be very difficult to establish.
“So, if you are in a situation, where you thought your political party had raised money legitimately and you were given an amount for the purpose of campaign, then you may have a strong case against any criminal charge like the newspapers, who have received money, but you may be willing to return the money having found out that it was illegitimately acquired.”
Meanwhile, Presidency has revealed that the recovered loots will be spent on infrastructure.
According to the special adviser to the President on media and publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, “The President said it sometimes ago in Kaduna that recovered money would be spent on the development of infrastructure. The infrastructure includes roads and railways among others,” he said.
Mr Adesina added: “Nigerians can be assured that the money would be spent transparently and judiciously. They have nothing to fear.
“These funds would be spent to better the lives of Nigerians; this is what this government is committed to.”
Recall that the Muhammadu Buhari-led government revealed that N78, 325,354,631.82; $185,119,584.61; £3,508,355.46 and €11, 250 had been recovered from alleged looters.
According to the FG, the funds were recovered separately by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation; Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission and the Department of State Services.