By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA— FOLLOWING the $9,772,800 and £74,000 cash recovered from former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Andrew Yakubu, in Kaduna, the Senate, yesterday, asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to go after the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
It also asked the anti- graft agency to beam its searchlight on serving directors, permanent secretaries, procurement officials, and others in Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, to get those found wanting and bring them to book, noting that the monumental stealing of government monies by officials had been partly responsible for the current recession bedevilling the country.
The upper chambers gave this order, yesterday, when the Acting Chairman, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, appeared before the Committee on Anti-corruption and Financials Crimes, led by Senator Chukwuka Utazi, PDP, Enugu North, to defend the 2017 budget.
The committee also asked the agency to furnish it with details of performance on capital expenditure for last year as well as details of all recoveries made till date.
It gave Magu a week to report back to the Senate.
Senator Isa Misau, APC Bauchi Central), a member of the committee, who was the first to sensitise the EFCC against looting by government officials, expressed surprise about how former NNPC Group Managing Director, Mr Yakubu, stockpiled huge sums of forex in his house without any agency of government detecting it.
He noted that the level of stealing of government funds with impunity had reached an alarming proportion in the country, such that the amount of US dollars in circulation in Nigeria was much more than what the US Central Bank could boast of.
According to him, the US dollars and other foreign currencies being stashed way in secret places are not used for trading and business transactions to promote the economy.
He alleged that those in possession of foreign currencies, after exploiting the loopholes in the CBN, channel such money through the parallel market to make quick gains.
Misau, who asked the EFCC to look for avenues to review its law to ensure that ill-gotten monies and property were not only confiscated but their owners made to spend long years in jail, said: “We have a lot of these people who buy property running into billions of naira and they pay in cash.
“Today, we have such property everywhere, in Maitama, Asokoro, Utako and other places not occupied.
Pampering EFCC with Service Wide Votes
The committee also accused the Presidency of “over-pampering” the EFCC with Service Wide Vote, SWV, accusing it of abusing the process of granting the funds in favour of the anti-graft agency.
Trouble started when Magu told senators that his agency had approached the Presidency and secured additional N1.8 billion from the Service Wide Vote, adding that the agency also drew another N200 million as special intervention from the Service Wide Vote left with the Presidency.
In his response , Utazi said the Senate was not happy with the development, adding that the EFCC was keeping the Senate in the dark on the special fund, accusing both the Presidency and EFCC of abusing the process of drawing monies from the Service Wide Vote.
Utazi specifically faulted the agency for N1.8billion it got from the Presidency through the service-wide votes to carry out recruitment of 750 cadets outside its 2016 budgetary provisions and without National Assembly’s approval/
Earlier in his presentation, Magu told the senators that a total of N18,887,531,636.00 was approved for 2016, adding that N14,739,273,473.86, representing 78.04 percent was released.
He said the agency proposed N17,202,253,360.00 for 2017.
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