President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday said his administration had taken efforts to recover looted Nigerian resources a step further by searching for the banks keeping the proceeds of stolen oil.
Buhari said his government had started identifying banks, financial institutions and countries in which payments for stolen Nigerian crude oil had been made.
A statement by President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as saying this while granting audience to some United States Congressmen at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Adesina said the President acknowledged the support and cooperation his administration was receiving from the international community in gathering required intelligence for tracing and recovering of stolen national resources.
Buhari reportedly told the US congressmen led by Rep. Darrel Issa, “We are getting cooperation from the international community, including information on ships that take crude oil from Nigeria and change direction, or pour their contents into other ships mid-stream.
“Some monies were paid to individual accounts. We are identifying the financial institutions and countries that are involved.
“I have been assured that when we get all our documents together, the United States and other countries will treat our case with sympathy.’’
He also told them that his administration would welcome more regular meetings of the Nigeria-United States Bi-National Commission, noting that the commission could serve as a more useful platform for the promotion of bilateral trade and economic relations as well as joint cooperation in the war against terrorism.
Issa assured Buhari that the US would support Nigeria against Boko Haram by providing training, intelligence and military platforms.
Buhari’s latest revelation on the steps being taken by his administration to recover the country’s resources in the hands of corrupt citizens and oil thieves came on the heels of recent report that the President was handed a list of Nigerian oil thieves during his recent visit to the US.
“I can tell you that the President already has the list of names of the people engaging in the stealing of Nigeria’s oil,” someone in the entourage of Buhari to the US trip had confided in The PUNCH last week.
The source had said that Buhari was taken aback when he saw the names on the list and that the list given to the President by the US might compel him to probe the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
A Presidency source had also confirmed that Buhari had such a list but that “the President has been keeping the list to himself.”
The source, who spoke to The PUNCH about the list in the President’s possession, said the US gave Buhari two separate lists – one listing the names of top government officials who have been stealing the country’s oil, using their high offices to perpetrate the stealing; and the other containing the names of illegal oil bunkerers.
The President had also said last week that some ministers in the cabinet of Jonathan were stealing as much as 250,000 barrels of Nigeria’s crude daily.
Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, who was also on the President’s team to the US, said last week that a former minister stole as much as $6bn.
Apart from oil thieves, the Buhari administration has also reportedly zeroed in on corrupt public servants, with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission’s operatives already marking assets of some corrupt ‘super rich’ civil servants for possible confiscation.
The ICPC is said to have been set to approach the court this week for an order to effect seizure of choice properties said to have been acquired through ill-gotten wealth by corrupt civil servants.
Many of such assets, including buildings and state-of-the-art automobiles, were said to have been discovered in the Federal Capital Territory and other locations across the country.
Source: The Punch