FG used N1trn recovered loot to finance budget, SIP ― Prof Sagay

⦁ says 8th N’Assembly sabotaged corruption fight

The Chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Professor Itsey Sagay, has disclosed that about N1 trillion looted funds recovered by the anti-corruption agencies were used to finance the 2017 and 2018 budgets.

Sagay made this known on Thursday in Abuja while fielding questions from State House correspondents, when he led the members of the panel to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, adding that these included the cash recovered and proceeds of assets.

He noted that nothing was left in the coffers at the time, while also describing as “unprecedented” strides by committee.

He also accused the leadership of the 8th National Assembly of frustrating the Federal Government efforts at combating corruption in the country.

Sagay said: “I don’t need to tell anybody, it is unprecedented in the annals of this country that we could be recovering so many assets illegally acquired mainly by public servants but not only by public servants.

“And the more remarkable aspect of it is that this recovered loot is being ploughed into the national budget every year. It is ploughed back into the national budget and used for the Social Investment Programme.

“So, when you hear about the feeding of over 12 million schoolchildren as when I checked last having a nutritious meal every day.

“You hear of poor families being supported to survive and stand on their feet or over 500,000 young people who are being trained in all sorts of skills and paid N30,000 a month by the government and the interest-free loans given to small scale businesses all over the country.

“It is all part of this money, not a kobo of it is left, everything is ploughed back and I think the country should know that it’s very unprecedented, this never happened before in the history of this country, everything is ploughed back,” he said

He disclosed that as part of the mandate of the committee, it successfully build the capacity of relevant anti-corruption agencies in order to carry out their duties effectively.

He said: “We have succeeded in improving the quality of prosecution by giving the agencies a lot of capacity building, train them in the manner cases should be prosecuted and how charges should be drawn. Judges up to the Supreme Court have also benefitted from this programme.

“Nobody talks about fuel subsidy corruption anymore. Previously we were losing almost N400 billion every year on fake fuel subsidy payments but now, it is zero. So generally the tone of the country has improved.

“The country has gained tremendously, corruption has gone down,” especially with the introduction of the TSA and the BVN.

“Now you cannot hide money in the banks anymore and agencies cannot hide money in various banks accounts which they spend without the knowledge of the government. Everything is in one place, everything is transparent, thanks to this  government.”

Speaking on the debt owed the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, (AMCOM) by high profile corrupt Nigerians, Prof Sagay said the officials were working towards to recover the monies estimated at N5trillion.

He said: “AMCOM itself has taken up the challenge, they have assessed the amount of debt being owed some as a result of corruption, others as a result of purely business failures and they are very determined now to recover these debts and I am aware there is a lot of vigour in an attempt to recover the debts right now.

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“We don’t have any direct role in this area although whatever they do will benefit the country because it is about N5 trillion involved, so they are vigorously fighting it under the new management and committee that was set up and I think they will recover a lot if not all,” he said.

On corruption fight back, Sagay revealed that the government was excited with the exit of the 8th session of the National Assembly which he said worked with the tacit support of its leadership to sabotage the administration’s fight against graft in the country.

“That is to be expected but I am happy to say that the capacity of corruption to fight back has been reduced with the expiration of the life of 8th Assembly because that is where the main opposition to this government was constituted, main opposition to the fight against corruption, that was the centre.

“And at that time, it did not depend on which party they belonged to, they all ganged up together against the fight against corruption and did everything they could to frustrate the government and ourselves in this fight.”

He expressed confidence that the 9th National Assembly will partner with the relevant government agencies with a view to combating the menace in virtually all the sectors of the country to a standstill.

“Luckily, the 9th Assembly is totally different Assembly it is an Assembly that is determined to work hand in hand with the government and therefore with us in achieving the highest level of non-corruption in society.”

On the recovered loot, Sagay said: “I think the Minister of Information is best placed to say how much but I can say roughly internally is almost about N1 trillion because you see that in 2017 N500 billion was spent on this Social Investment Programme and in 2018 the same amount for the program. So it must be roughly about N1 trillion although we also have monies that were recovered from abroad being ploughed back into the same system.

“When you have a disease that has been alive maybe 50 years, you cannot get rid of it overnight. My own personal experience about corruption, it exists at every level, that is the frightening aspect through all sectors of society.

“As a lawyer going to court to file a paper every official of the court imposes a personal tax which has nothing to do with the official filing fees to do his job. These are clerical officers and much lower people and this pervades all aspects of Nigerian society.

“So, corruption has become a culture. Some people are corrupt without even thinking that they are corrupt, it is part of them. They think it is an entitlement. So, it is going to take a long time to get rid of it.

“So, that is why the National Orientation Agency and the major document that has been produced, Anti-corruption Strategy lays some emphasis on acculturating Nigerian with regard to fight against corruption, going to schools, NGOs, civil society organizations and so on to preach the message of anti-corruption, to give incentives to those who are not corrupt so that people will be encouraged to imbibe that culture.

“It is a long term thing, all we can do as it’s being done is that concentration is at the top where powerful people are using state funds for themselves, eventually it will go down as this culture is being progressively imbibed.”

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