The Federal Government has started tracing looted Nigerian funds to foreign nations with the aim of recovering and repatriating them.
The Federal Government specifically targets the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland and other European jurisdictions where it believes corrupt officials have been stashing public funds.
This move came on the heels of the declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari on his first day in Aso Villa office that he inherited an almost empty treasury from his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, thus vowing that his administration would recover all the looted funds stashed in foreign banks by corrupt Nigerians.
“The next three months may be hard, but billions of dollars can be recovered, and we will do our best,” the President was quoted as saying in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina.
Some of the countries where looted funds from Nigeria have been kept in the past include Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Others are France, Germany, British Virgin Islands and other tax havens spread across the globe.
Adesina, who confirmed the move in an exclusive interview with Saturday PUNCH on Thursday, said, the search for the looted funds will not be limited to these countries but anywhere in the world where they may be hidden.
He said, “The search will not only cover UK, US, Switzerland, Germany and other known havens for Nigerian looted funds but will cover everywhere under the sun. Anywhere and everywhere that the looted funds are, we have an assurance from the United States of America to assist us to repatriate these funds from anywhere under the sun.”
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the Federal Government’s investigation was meant to identify the individuals who engaged in corrupt practices and ascertain the sums of money involved with a view to repatriating them.
One of our correspondents also learnt that anti-corruption agencies will play a prominent role in the exercise targeted at corrupt government officials in the recent past administration and their private sector collaborators, among others.
To this end, Adeniyi told Saturday PUNCH that the Federal Government is planning to engage the services of foreign private investigators to help trace and find looted funds belonging to the people of Nigeria.
“Everything that needs to be done to get all those funds repatriated will be done, including engaging private investigators,” the Presidential spokesperson added.
Buhari had lamented that officials of the recent past government jettisoned all financial and administrative instructions put in place in parastatals and agencies while embracing impunity, lack of accountability and financial recklessness in the management of national resources.
This, the President decried, had thrown the country into financial crisis.
Credit: The Punch