* Agency presents scorecard at budget defence
NIGERIANS heard yesterday the amount of crime – related funds recovered so far by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in local and foreign currencies.
EFCC’s acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu gave the details as N473b in addition to $98,258,124.97; £294,851.82; 7,247,363.75 Euro; 443,400 Dirham and 70,500 Rand.
He also confirmed that identified whistle blowers, including the Osborne Towers, Ikoyi whistle blower, were being paid to encourage other into buying into the policy.
Magu spoke while presenting his agency’s 2017 scorecard before the Kayode Oladele-led House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes.
He was at the Green Chamber to defending the Commission’s votes in this year’s Appropriation Bill.
According to him, in 2017, the Commission succeeded in securing the final forfeiture of the $43 million Osborne Towers, Ikoyi cash; N32 billion and $5 million recovered from a former Petroleum Resources Minister and N449 million discovered at Legico Plaza on Victoria Island, Lagos.
Magu told the House panel that the $43m Osborne Towers cash was forfeited to the Federal government because no one came forward to claim it.
When asked whether the Osborne cash was ever traced to anyone, the EFCC chief explained that the document recovered from the property where the money was recovered showed that it belonged to a company owned by the wife and son of a former director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
However, after due diligence and no one coming forward to claim it, the court had to pronounce its final forfeiture, he told the committee.
Among other recoveries and forfeitures from proceeds of crime, Magu said that over N329 billion was recovered from petroleum marketers by the Kano office of the Commission; withholding tax recovery of over N27.7 billion from banks; 6.6 million recovered from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA); recoveries of about N1.1 billion on behalf of AMCON (Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria) and the recovery of subsidy fraud funds of over N4 billion.
He, however, reiterated the government commitment to the whistle blowing policy, saying that the promised incentives were being paid without delay.
Saying that the Ikoyigate whistle blower has also been paid, Magu noted that the payment policy was meant to encourage more Nigerians to join in the campaign against corruption.
On the implementation of last year’s budget, the EFCC boss complained of delay in the release of funds which he said affected his agency’s operations.
Magu said: “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 N17,202,253,360 appropriated in 2017, only N11,737,492,342.07 or 68 per cent has so far been released out of which N9,759,277,008.53 has been utilised.
“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.”
He said the reduction of the Commission’s budget proposal for this year from N45 billion to about N21 billion, could hamper the agency’s operations.
Magu informed the Committee that the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has been granted autonomy.
“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 1st January, 2018, with a budget proposal of N2.903 billion,” he said.
Of the sum, N339.350 million was proposed for personnel cost; N22.500 milion for meals and refreshment to cater for numerous sub-regional, national and internal meetings while N26.500 million was proposed for publicity and advertisement for stakeholders in the financial sector.