"Those Who Stole, Diverted Public Funds Must Pay" - Osinbajo
Public servants in Nigeria and their cronies who have stolen or diverted public resources into their private accounts will have to give account of such funds, the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday.
They will be made to return the monies and then face trials.
Professor Osinbajo said accounting for the funds had become imperative in view of the determination of the administration to bring persons accused of corruption to justice.
According to him, funds appropriated to build roads, railway lines, power plants, and to equip the military, that have been stolen or diverted into private pockets, must be retrieved and the culprits brought to justice.
“We believe that the looting of public resources that took place in the past few years has to be accounted for.
“Many have said that the process is slow, and that is true. Corruption has fought back with tremendous resources and our system of administration of justice has been quite slow.
“But the good news for justice is that our law does not recognize a time bar for the prosecution of corruption and other crimes, and we will not relent in our efforts to apprehend and bring corruption suspects to justice,” Osinbajo said.
Ensuring that those put in charge of prosecution are well equipped is another aspect of the process of recovering stolen assets that must be highly considered.
The Acting President said the government was re-equipping the prosecution teams, and that part of the expected judicial reforms was to dedicate some specific courts to the trial of corruption cases.
This, he believes, will make the trial process faster.
According to him, the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government is also putting in place safeguards and deterrents in the process.
“We have expanded the coverage of the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
“We have introduced more efficient accounting and budgeting systems across the Federal Government. We have also launched an extremely successful Whistleblower Policy.
“The Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance has succeeded in plugging leakages amounting to billions of naira, over the last two years.
“We have ended expensive and much-abused fertilizer and petrol subsidy regimes.
“We have taken very seriously our promise to save and invest for the future, even against the backdrop of our revenue challenges.
“We have in the last two years added 500 million dollars to our Sovereign Wealth Fund and 87 million dollars to the Excess Crude Account.
“This is the very opposite of the situation before now, when rising oil prices failed to translate to rising levels of savings and investment,” Professor Osinbajo stressed.
At the moment, some persons that were part of the administration that handed over to the APC in 2015 are facing charges bordering on corruption and misappropriation of public funds.
The most prominent of the cases is that of retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki who is being tried for alleged $2.1 billion arms money diversion.
Colonel Dasuki arrested in November of 2015 has denied the charges in a trial that is still ongoing.