REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE AUDIT COMMITTEE ON THE RECOVERY AND MANAGEMENT OF STOLEN ASSETS WITHIN AND OUTSIDE NIGERIA HELD AT THE STATE HOUSE, ABUJA, ON WEDNESDAY 22ND NOVEMBER 2017
Protocols: Members of the committee may recall that pursuant to the resolve of this administration since its inception to pursue a strong and effective anti-corruption regime, and in view of the multiple cases of mis-managed and misappropriated national assets identified by this administration upon our assumption of office, the Federal Government embarked on tracing and recovery of all such stolen assets within and outside Nigeria using all legal and diplomatic resources at our disposal.
2. The gains of our initiatives over the past two and a half years have been very obvious to all Nigerians. This is clear from the level of investigation, prosecution and forfeitures involving both public and private sector officials in the country. The message has therefore been passed loud and clear that never again as a nation are we going to allow the wanton diversion and embezzlement of public funds to private pockets.
3. Nigerians will further recall that pursuant to requisite directives, recovered assets are progressively being returned to designated accounts by the anti-graft agencies and other agencies of Government involved with the process.
4. In the course of implementing this exercise and given the number of agencies who are concurrently pursuing specialized initiatives and making recoveries for Government, it has become obvious that fundamental gaps still exist in ensuring that the recovered assets are accounted for, and managed in an accurate, transparent and logical manner.
5. It was in realization of this and due to our determination to ensure that in pursuing the anti-graft war, we do not create new room for dishonorable conduct by any individual or agency that I directed, earlier in the year, that all agencies should send in detailed reports of all their recovered assets as at March, 2017.
6. The decision to inaugurate this Audit Committee on the Recovery and Management of Stolen Assets within and Outside Nigeria today is therefore the next step in ensuring that all returns filed by the various agencies are accurate and consistent with actual recoveries made.
7. The Committee, in essence, is therefore expected to judiciously undertake an audit of all recovery accounts established by government agencies from the date of opening such accounts up to 10th April, 2017. The details of the Committee’s functions are as set out in your Terms of Reference.
8. I congratulate all Members of the Committee on your appointment which is another opportunity for you all to serve your country. I therefore urge you to perform your duties diligently in the best interests of Nigeria.
9. I hereby direct and request all relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Banks, and Companies to give the Committee full cooperation as your assignment is crucial not only to the harvesting of needed resources for our national development but also in setting out a fresh template of public accountability.
10. Where it becomes necessary, the Committee will of course rely on existing laws to compel the production of information and will also have the benefit of necessary interventions by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in obtaining such information through legal processes, where so required. 11. The Committee is hereby given a time frame of four weeks to finish this assignment and submit its Report to my office. I look forward to receiving your report and recommendations in due course and I wish you the best of luck in this assignment.