The Federal Government has set up a special account which will be tasked with holding the N115.7bn in cash have been recovered from looters of the treasury 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.
Making this revelation over the weekend, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, explained that “An account has been set up for it and at an appropriate time, what is going to be done with the money will be made public.”
“The amount that is available in that account will be announced and what will be done with the money will be publicly announced,” he added.
Sagay however, explained why the N1.9tn in cash and assets, which had been frozen by the Federal Government, can yet be touched.
“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.”
Speaking on the government’s decision not to name the looters, he said, “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.”
“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.”