Over 500 billion Recovered Through Whistle Blowing Policy

Over 500 billion Recovered Through Whistle Blowing Policy
Over 500 billion Recovered Through Whistle Blowing Policy

Over 500 billion Recovered Through Whistle Blowing Policy

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said his administration’s “whistle-blowing policy has helped to recover over N500 billion.

He said this during his Democracy Day speech which aired at 7:00 a.m. Tuesday.

The figure appears to contradicts that provided by Ibrahim Magu, acting head of the anti-graft agency, EFCC, who said his agency recovered only N29 billion as at the end of October 2017

As at the end of March, Kemi Adeosun, the finance minister, gave N7.8 billion, $378 million and £27,800 as the total recovered through whistle-blowing tips. The figure, totalling N143 billion, was provided as part of the activities of Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA).

In his address Tuesday, the president said PICA has helped his anti-corruption efforts and led to the removal of over 52,000 ghost-workers from federal payroll and a more efficient public service.

While it has been difficult to independently confirm Mr Buhari’s achievements in the ghost-working menace, his claim that over N500 billion was recovered through whistle-blowing did not appear to have come from the agency in charge of the policy.

The N13 billion National Intelligence Agency cash stashed away in Ikoyi, Lagos, and the $9 million buried in a Kaduna slum were the biggest recoveries made through the policy, which took effect in December 2016.

Although the initiative buoyed the administration’s overall loot recovery efforts, only a fraction of recovered funds had come as a result of the policy.

In general, the total loot recovered by the Buhari administration has been difficult to ascertain. The recovered loot is segregated from the assets and recoveries still undergoing litigation at various courts for potential forfeitures to government.

At least two senior officials have provided contradictory figures while speaking about recovered loot.

In November 2017, Mr Magu said the EFCC recovered N739 billion in two years.

Earlier this year, he said his agency recovered N511 billion in 2017 alone.

But in a February 2018 letter, Kemi Adeosun, the finance minister, challenged Mr Magu’s claims. She said only N91 billion was recovered since Mr Buhari assumed office in May 2015 as computed by the Accountant-General of the Federation.

Mrs Adeosun asked Mr Magu to explain how he came about the humongous figures he was bandying in the media.

After the memo was leaked in late March, Ms Adeosun’s office and the EFCC said there was a mishap in reconciliation of figures and promised to address contradiction.

No update has been provided by either of them ever since.

Even if the president was alluding to the overall recovery by his administration, his N500 billion claim contradicted the N739 billion by Mr Magu and the N91 billion by Mrs Adeosun or N143 billion by Ms Adeosun.

Observers are baffled by the numerous contradictions that seem to show a lack of coordination amongst government officials.

“We were made to understand that all recovered funds pass through the same channel, so why the contradiction”, said political analyst, Sola Olubanjo.

“What is the sense in the president given a figure different from the one given by the minister in charge of finance and the one given by the anti-corruption agencies,” Mr Olubanjo said. “It is unfortunate.”

Presidential spokespersons Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu did not immediate return requests for comments.

Ayo Akanji, a media strategist for the All Progressives Congress, said there was no contradiction in the real sense, only difficulties in reconciliation of figures.

“The figures are being reconciled as we speak,” Mr Akanji told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Tuesday morning. “The Ministry of Finance and the EFCC have been making separate recoveries, but there will be reconciliation soon.”

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