The Federal Government on Thursday announced that it has recovered 40 brand new SUVs and other vehicles from a former Permanent Secretary who single-handedly appropriated the vehicles to himself when he left office.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made this known in a statement issued in Lagos, which focused on the effectiveness of the anti-corruption strategy of the government.
He disclosed that the federal government is being guided by a well-articulated strategy in its fight against corruption contrary to the misconception in certain circles that the government is fighting corruption without a strategy.
Mohammed pointed out that the government was not just fixated on the only prosecution, but in taking preventive measures to make corruption unattractive.
He stressed that the strict enforcement of the Treasury Single Account, TSA, has largely reduced the diversion of government funds into secret accounts.
The minister maintained that the TSA has also reduced the constraints in fishing out ghost workers in the public service in most states in the country.
He stated that other measures to strengthen the anti-corruption fight, included the establishment of Presidential Committee on Asset Recovery, Asset Tracing Committee, Asset Register, and the Whistle Blower Policy.
Mohammed announced a plan by the government, through the Code of Conduct Bureau, to commence test-run of electronic asset declaration starting in 2017.
He said the new method would facilitate compliance and enhance search and retrieval of data on the assets of public officers.
The minister added that the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, is working with relevant MDAs, especially the National Bureau of Statistics, to improve data collection on corruption indicators.
”Once perfected, the data will be shared with government periodically if possible, as regularly as government receives data on inflation and unemployment trends.
“The data will indicate trends in corruption and influence government measures to correct the situation before it gets out of hand as we have now,” he said.
Mohammed explained that the Presidential Committee on Asset Recovery will meet regularly to collate reports from key law enforcement agencies on government’s anti-corruption effort.
He said the committee would share information, intelligence and review challenges faced in anti-corruption efforts and give directives on the way forward.
The minister added that the Asset Register has made the looting of government physical assets, notably vehicles, very difficult by political appointees, senior and middle-level officers.
He said the recent approval of Whistle Blower policy was designed to further enhance government’s effort to recover looted funds.
”People who give credible and useful information to government that leads to recovery of stolen public assets will be rewarded with between 2.5 per cent to 5 per cent of the recovered fund.
“Government will keep the identity of the whistle blower absolutely confidential,” he said.
Mohammed said the government is finalizing the constitution of an Asset Tracing Team to work with internationally reputably bodies to trace and recover public assets in private hands.
He stated that ”In this regard, government will also escalate the use of non-conviction-based asset recovery methods to boost revenue and diminish corruption and the perception that crime pays or criminals can keep their loot”.
The minister disclosed that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is collaborating with Nigerians in the diaspora and international civil society organisations in the campaign for the return of looted assets.