A disappointed President Muhmmadu Buhari spoke yesterday against the backdrop of the ongoing investigation of the affairs of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), expressing regrets that some public officials put in positions of trust had abused the confidence reposed in them.
By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
He vowed that all ongoing investigations into previous and new corruption cases would be painstakingly pursued.
Buhari, speaking after the private Eid prayers held with his family and aides at the forecourt of the State House, Abuja yesterday, said he emplaced the special investigative panel on EFCC to ensure the probe of all cases.
“More resources to be devoted to fight against insecurity in Northwest” — Buhari
He also spoke on the security challenge in parts of the country, pledging more resources for the military, the police and other security agencies to deal with the situation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that when asked how he felt about recent revelations coming from the EFCC and the NDDC, Buhari said: “There has been abuse of trust by people trusted by previous administration and this administration.
“A number of assets have been recovered and some money.
“But we have introduced TSA where all the monies are taken and I said asset should be sold and the money be put through TSA so that it can be identified at any level and I will see who will come after us and take it back again to those who misappropriated public funds.”
While assuring that all past and present cases would be fully investigated, he said: “This is why we put the commission (of investigation) in place.”
On the Niger Delta, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said Buhari decried the wastage of the resources, especially the 13% derivation meant for improving the lives of the people of that region.
He said corruption has not helped the generality of the people.
In a series of tweets two weeks ago, Buhari asked the National Assembly and other agencies investigating the misuse of national resources to work together in ensuring transparency and accountability from individuals and institutions entrusted with public funds.
”I am determined to get to the root of the problem undermining the development of the Niger Delta in spite of the enormous national resources dedicated to this annually. This administration remains committed to bringing rapid, even and sustainable development to the region,” he said in one of the tweets.
Buhari also yesterday warned against the vandalization of oil pipelines in the oil- producing areas which often results in environmental pollution.
His words: “Those who are blowing pipelines and interfering with the production of petroleum products are hurting their people more than the rest of Nigerians because majority of their people are fishermen, fisherwomen and farmers.
“Now if they pollute the land and the waters, the fish goes into the deeper sea where the people cannot go and they cannot grow anything. They are hurting their immediate communities more than any other thing.”
Buhari described the deteriorating security situation in the North West and the North Central as “very disturbing.”
President Buhari said that while much had been achieved security wise from the situation he inherited in 2015, more still needed to be done.
“I want Nigerians to be very conscious of their country, and what we inherited when we came in 2015 was Boko Haram – North East and the militants, the South-South. Nigerians know that we have done our best,” he said.
Responding to a question on the performance of the Service Chiefs which he recently said needed to get better, the President said that the military, the police and other security agencies were working hard.
“We are making resources available to them to even do better,” he said.
He added: “From the reports I am getting, they could do much better…they could do much better. But we are keeping them on the alert all the time to do their duties.”
Asked what he wished Nigerians as they celebrate the Eid El-Kabir, the President said: “I wish Nigerians the best of luck.
‘In the Eid-Kabir sermon, the Imam has said it all. We want security, prosperity and wellbeing of all Nigerians. We want Nigerians to be very conscious of their country.”
The President after the prayer personally slaughtered his own ram in accordance with Islamic injunctions.
The Senate and the House of Representatives are currently investigating how the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) allegedly squandered N40 billion within a few months.
There is a separate forensic audit into the affairs of the commission by the Presidency.
The Presidency also set up a Presidential Probe Panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against the suspended acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.
The setting up of the Ayo Salami panel followed a memo by the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, in which he accused the EFCC under its suspended chairman, Ibrahim Magu, of “not acting in the overall best interest of the country and the policies of this administration due to its mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets; diversion of recovered assets for personal enrichment; neglecting to investigate the P&ID case as directed by the President; flagrant disobedience to directives and to court orders.”
For instance, Malami said: “EFCC reported a total naira equivalent of N46, 038,882,509.87 while the naira equivalent of the foreign currency lodgments were N37,533,764,195.66, representing a shortfall of N8,505,118,314.21.
“These inconsistencies cast a serious doubt on the accuracy of figures submitted by the EFCC. It is the committee’s view that the EFCC cannot be said to have fully accounted for cash recoveries made by it.
“While EFCC reported total naira recoveries of N504,154,184,744.04, the actual bank lodgments were N543, 511,792,863.47. These discrepancies mean that EFCC’s actual lodgment exceeded its reported recoveries by N39, 357,608,119.43.
“This is an apparent case of manipulation of data in a very brazen and unprofessional manner and this has greatly eroded the public confidence in the anti-corruption efforts.”
He said Magu refused to clarify the discrepancies and inconsistencies in the figures.
The minister also cited alleged mismanagement of recovered assets by the EFCC.
Magu denied all the allegations.
In his defence to the panel, Magu said: “The existing structure in the EFCC on the recovery of assets and the management of same will not allow any form of mismanagement of recovered assets to be perpetrated.
“In the Commission under my watch, funds are recovered vide bank drafts issued in favour of the Commission and lodged in the recovery accounts domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“Even when cash is recovered during execution of search warrant, such funds are meticulously counted, kept in the safe custody of the Exhibit Keeper and lodged in the recovery account.
“I am not a signatory to these accounts and the funds therein. I have never approved a withdrawal from any of the Commission’s recovery accounts for my personal benefit.
“Nowhere have I reported the Naira equivalent of the foreign currency recoveries. As a matter of standard practice and procedure, the Commission under my leadership reports foreign currency recoveries and not the naira equivalent of same.
“The commission under my leadership has never converted foreign currency recoveries to Naira.”