BusinessDay

Anti-corruption: FG has recovered $1bn – Malami

...says govt investigating budget padding

Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, says the Federal Government has recovered about $1 billion from corrupt individuals between 2015 and 2022.

Malami disclosed this while briefing journalists, Wednesday, after the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the State House, Abuja.

The minister also said that FEC approved a new anti-corruption strategy document (2022 to 2026) presented to it by the ministry of justice, aimed at strengthening the government’s anti-corruption fight.

He said the Federal Government recorded only 109 convictions before 2015, while Buhari-led administration has convicted about 3,000 offenders and recovered $1billion to date

“FEC approved validation extension of the National Anti-Corruption Programme to 2026, a new policy that resulted from cooperation among justices.

He noted that the previous anti-corruption initiatives had helped the government to recover about $1bn stolen funds from the public coffers, adding that “the new anti-corruption strategy will strengthen the war against corruption.”

Responding to a question on budget padding, Malami expressed disappointments with ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) engaged in budget padding.

The minister’s position comes on the heels of several revelations from the ongoing MDAs budget defence at the National Assembly.

Read also: Buhari nominates Lauretta Onochie as chairman, NDDC board

Recall that the minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management, and social development, Saddiya Farouk had blamed the minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed, for adding N206bn to the humanitarian ministry’s budget.

Farouq, who appeared before the Senate committee on special duties on Monday to defend her ministry’s 2023 budget, claimed that the ministry requested for some projects for the North-East Development Commission (NEDC), 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.

Elisha Abbo (APC senator representing Adamawa north, had asked the minister about the inflated N206bn in the budget.

The minister said, “Yes, we made mention of the projects for 2022 that were not released, and part of it was for the NEDC.

But responding to a question on this, Malami said the Federal Government was studying the revelations and would do what is necessary to address it.

“Whichever way one looks at it, budget padding is bad, because if you budget N5bn for road and N3bn of that fund is diverted, it means 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,” he said.

Babatunde Fashola, minister of works and housing, also speaking during the briefing, said FEC approved a budget augmentation of N14bn on the Kano Western bypass, awarded to Dantata and Sawo.

The road project was raised from N22bn to 36.89bn. “The need to include a flyover and more hydronic facilities to drain water necessitated the augmentation,” Fashola said, adding that “this will link the Kano-Maiduguri highway. The council also approved a note on the Enugu to Port Harcourt road, 56 kilometres.

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