2017 Budget: FG Targets N565bn From Recovered Loot, MTN Fine

The Federal Government hopes to raise a total of N565bn from recovered loot and fines to be paid by MTN Nigeria to fund the 2017 budget.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, explained on Monday in Abuja during the public presentation of the 2017 budget breakdown that the disruptions to oil production and falling crude prices had made it impossible for the government to meet majority of its revenue projections.

The event was attended by the ministers of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole; Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh; Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; and Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, among others.

Providing useful insights into how the looted funds would be recovered and used, the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, said that N288.6bn out of the N565bn would come from recovered looted funds.

He said, “With respect to the looted funds for the revenue profile in the 2017 budget, it is a total of N288.6bn. This includes N97.6bn, which is the naira equivalent of $320m expected from the Swiss (government), which is part of what was recovered from the Abacha loot.

“It also includes N72bn that has already been received in cash from cases of recoveries and the balance of N90bn is from other expected recoveries, which are at an advanced stage and we feel comfortable and confident that they will come through in 2017 and have to be reflected in the budget.”

The Nigerian Communications Commission had in October 2015 fined MTN N1.04tn for selling over five million unregistered SIM cards.

The fine was later reduced to N330bn, out of which MTN has paid N50bn to the government. The balance of N280bn will be paid in six tranches over a period of three years.

The persistent attacks on oil installations by militants in the Niger Delta and the harsh operating climate resulting in low tax receipts from companies, according to Udoma, dealt a huge blow on the government’s revenue in the first nine months of this year.

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Yoruba/ Egun Clash: Two Bodies Recovered As Lagos Demolishes Structures

Two bodies of the residents of Otodo Gbami community, Eti-Osa Local Government, who drowned on Wednesday, were recovered, yesterday from the lagoon by a search and rescue team constituted by the community.

It was gathered that the residents had been searching for the victims since Wednesday and could only recover two of the bodies yesterday. One of the bodies was identified as Whefa Agonhu, a female while the other was a male.

Abdulrahman Sehnu, said that the bodies of the victims were recovered by a search and rescue team constituted by the community. He noted that the search was still on to recover others who also drowned in the river behind the community.

While the residents were still counting their loss, the Lagos State Government stormed the community, to demolish illegal structures within the community, displacing more residents.

Justice and Empowerment Initiatives, JEI, a non governmental organisation, NGO, disclosed that 800 structures have been either burnt or demolished, rendering some 30,000 residents homeless. Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO had on Wednesday said the state Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development will move in to demolish the remaining shanties and clear the rubble caused by the inferno.

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What We Do With Recovered Looted Funds– EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, says all looted funds recovered by it are paid into the consolidated revenue account of the Federal Government.

The commission made this known on its Twitter handle, @officialefcc in response to a question from one of its followers.

In a tweet to the commission through the handle @asantoo11a, the follower had asked; “When are we sharing our recovered looted money’’.

“Recovered funds are paid into the consolidated revenue account of the Federal Government,’’ it tweeted in reply.

Some Nigerians have raised questions about where crime proceeds recovered by the commission are kept.

The EFCC also said there was no hiding place for looters, including those who travel abroad to evade the arm of the law.

“Our network of partners includes the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and other international law enforcement agencies.

“Perpetrators cannot hide forever. Send a petition,” it said in response to an enquiry by one Biyi Soremekun.

Using the handle @adebiyie200, Soremekun asked what would happen in a situation where an individual travels out of the country after perpetrating fraud.

“What happens in a situation where someone defrauds you through issuance of dud cheques or falsification of land documents and leaves the country before you realise it”?

The commission advised victims and members of the general public to forward their petitions through its offices nearest to them, adding that they could do so anonymously.

Credit: NAN

Recovered Loot Inadequate To Revive Economy– Minister

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has explained that the looted fund recovered so far by government is far cry from what the country needs to revive the economy.

The minister said this on Friday when he appeared on a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.

According to him, the amount of money recovered is always being made public. “What we have recovered and if my record is right is about N78 billion, and 3 million dollars.

“We have been able to block various accounts in which about 9 billion dollar is found but those are not money available to us because we are still in court over them.

“The government spends N165 billion every month to pay federal civil servants, even what has been so far recovered will not even pay 50 per cent of the salaries in a month.’’

Mohammed assured Nigerians that every penny recovered will be judiciously spent and nobody could re-loot what had been recovered under the administration.

The minister further explained that Nigerians should understand that what had been recovered was so little compared to what the people needed on a continuous basis.

On budget release, he recalled that the Federal Ministry of Finance released N400 billion for capital projects, mostly on roads, railway, and power.

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Kuje Riot: NPS Plans Forensic Test On Recovered Handsets

The Nigerian Prisons Service would subject handsets and SIM cards that were recovered from the Kuje Prison inmates including a Boko Haram prisoner to forensic analysis.

It was learnt that the analysis would allow the authorities to determine who the inmates had been communicating with while in custody.

The service had seized about 25 cell phones from the inmates on Monday resulting in a riot, which led to the lockdown of the facility.

The officers fired gunshots and tear gas to subdue the unruly inmates.

The NPS’ Public Relations Officer, Francis Enobore, said that the seized handsets would be subjected to analysis after which a full investigation would commence to determine how the handsets found their way into the prison cells.

Enobore explained that cell searching operation was normal, adding that the prison authorities usually carried out periodic and routine searches of cells, workshops and other places the inmates could hide weapons or prohibited substances.

He said, “The seized objects will be subjected to analysis after which a report would be collated and necessary investigation initiated; that is the tradition. Indicted officers will also be sanctioned.

“The analysis of the phones will help us to know who the inmates have been talking with; this will give you a good lead on the investigation. When you hear cases of riots or jailbreaks, it is usually carried out through unauthorised communication. That is why the CG has made it very clear that he will not tolerate trafficking of banned materials in the prisons.

“Our existence as the prisons service rests on our ability to maintain tight security in the prisons and the CG is bent on ensuring that any trafficking of articles will not be tolerated.”

Enobore added that any officer indicted for bringing the prohibited materials into the prison yard would be sanctioned.

“Am not denying that some unscrupulous members of staff may be involved, but there are so many means through which unauthorised articles go into the prisons — from relatives, lawyers and even our members of staff.

“If you don’t have people compromising standards, where will the inmates have access to these banned articles?” he said.

The spokesman observed that it was normal for the inmates to resist the search because they were always looking out for things that could aid their escape from custody.

“From time to time, we carry out searches and remove these things; there is nothing unusual in finding all these things (banned materials). You are keeping people against their wishes, and it is natural for them to want to look for things they could use to escape incarceration,” he stated.

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Second Black Box Recovered From EgyptAir Crash Site

Search teams on Friday recovered the second flight recorder of an EgyptAir plane from the bottom of the Mediterranean that could prove vital in establishing the cause of the unexplained crash.

Flight MS804 from Paris to Cairo disappeared from radar screens in the eastern Mediterranean last month with 66 people on board, and a vast search operation has since scoured swathes of sea off Egypt’s northern coast.

Egyptian investigators said search teams managed to recover the Airbus A320’s flight data recorder — which gathers information about the speed, altitude and direction of the plane — a day after they retrieved its cockpit voice recorder.

The data recorder, which experts termed “the most important part” of the probe, was found in several pieces, according to investigators.

It was not immediately clear how much of its data would be useable, but Cairo’s civil aviation authority said on Thursday that salvage experts had managed to retrieve the voice recorder’s crucial memory unit despite extensive damage to the black box.

The voice recorder was due to be transferred from the port city of Alexandria to Cairo, where Egyptian investigators supported by French experts and representatives of manufacturer Airbus will analyse its contents.

France’s BEA air safety agency said Friday it had dispatched an expert to Cairo to assist the probe.

The cockpit voice recorder keeps track of up to two hours of conversation and other sounds in the pilots’ cabin, but also ambient noise within the aircraft.

“Depending on what we can get from this black box, it could allow us to know exactly what happened,” according to aeronautics expert Jean Serrat.

An Egyptian aviation ministry source, who declined to be named, said that if the voice data was heavily damaged, it could be sent abroad for further analysis.

Investigators have repeatedly said it is too soon to determine what caused the disaster, but a terror attack has not been ruled out.

Credit: Guardian

Why Buhari Did Not Release Details Of Stolen Asset Recovered From Corrupt Officials– Lai Mohammed

President Muhammadu Buhari did not release details of looted asset, recovered from corrupt persons, due to “legal reasons”, an official has said.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this on Sunday evening, hours after Mr. Buhari’s Democracy Day broadcast.

“Yes, he initially said so (that he’ll give specific details about recovered loot), but he was advised against doing so for legal reasons,” the Cable Newspapers quoted Mr. Mohammed as saying during an interview on Channels Television.

Mr. Buhari had on May 14 in London promised to provide specific details of stolen asset by former public officials.

“So far, what has come out, what has been recovered in whatever currency from each ministries, departments and individuals, I intend on the 29th to speak on this because all Nigerians are getting from the mass media because of the number of people arrested either by the EFCC, DSS. But we want to make a comprehensive report on the 29th,” Mr. Buhari had said.

But during his nation-wide address on Sunday morning, the President failed to make the details public. Instead, he said, the Information Ministry would soon release relevant details.

The development immediately drew the ire of Nigerians, who became outraged that their leader has once again failed to live up to his words.

But Mr. Mohammed said his principal has the right to reverse himself.

“Of course, he has a right to reverse himself on that,” he said.

Mr. Mohammed, however, said the administration will publish some details of recovered loot, but a far cry from what the president initially promised.

“We will get the list but not today; before the end of the week. But I must say not with the names,” he said.

But the claims that legal consequences prevented the president from announcing the names appear to be in sharp contrast with what the president did in January when he released the names of former military officials, private individuals and companies.

On January 15, Mr. Buhari published up to 41 names of former services chiefs, firms and individuals said to be responsible for over $2B arms procurement fund that was unaccounted for.

Credit: PremiumTimes

Why Buhari Is Yet To Disclose Recovered Loots- Aide

The presidency has said monies recovered from corrupt government officials and their accomplices cannot be made public now because they are to be used as evidence against the looters during prosecution.

Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Media to the President, Malam Garba Shehu, who disclosed this to journalists in Abuja at the weekend said the recovered funds, which he noted was running into billions of naira, have been kept in a special account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Shehu said the delay in making public what has been recovered was engendered by the need to ensure that those who stole public funds are made to face the wrath of the law.

His words: “On the issue of how much has been returned, let me state that the money so far retrieved is money to be used as evidence in court, and this is in line with the position of President Muhammadu Buhari who said two things; we will recover and we will prosecute. So as it is now, you don’t go and bring out all these millions returned. I am aware that there is an account in the CBN where some of these funds are being kept, but they are evidences for a judge to see, they are not for public display. I think that is the challenge we have at the moment.”

Assuring Nigerians yearning for employment opportunities that the good times are around the corner with the passage of the budget, Shehu said Buhari-led administration was living up to its campaign promises to Nigerians.

He disclosed that Vice President Yemi Osibajo would soon begin a town hall meeting which would accord him the opportunity to educate Nigerians on the policies of the current administration. “I want to congratulate Nigerians for supporting the administration and especially, during the period most people consider to be a difficult one. A lot of people had expected jobs by way of key appointments in boards, ministries and the parastatals and so on, that have been held back by the fact that the president has promised a major restructuring of the executive arm of the government, including the reduction of ministries from 42 to about 24. That will not go without concomitant challenges on the existing parastatals and agencies of government, which obviously have to be modified to fit into the existing ministerial structure.

“Also, I congratulate Nigerians on the achievements the President has recorded fighting Boko Haram terrorism. The military has said its technical victory. I think that as citizens of this country, we must be able to say something and defend that, this is well beyond technical victory; no city in the country is under curfew now, all military roadblocks have been removed except when they are necessitated by a crime situation and people are freely moving, and normal life is been restored to the Northeast geo- political zone.”

Credit: Guardian

Weapons, Ammunitions Recovered From Shi’ite Handed Over To Police– Army

The Headquarters of1 Division Nigerian Army has said that all the weapons and. Ammunition recovered from the Shi’ite group has been handed over to the police.

The army however said it’s attention has been drown to the publication particularly on the photograph that was displayed during the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division press briefing with members of the media in Kaduna on Wednesday 6 January 2016, and wish to correct the mistake in the captioning.

According to the army through a press statement issued by the deputy director Army Public relations, Colonel Usman Abdul, it stated that, “We wish to state categorically that all the ammunitions/weapons and other dangerous weapons displayed were recovered from armed bandits, criminals and cattle rustlers that have been terrorizing innocent civil populace within the North West Zone and not from the members of the Shiite sect as reported.

“The issue of the clash between the Nigerian Army troops and members of the Shiite sect was not the main issue of the briefing but was only mentioned to reiterate the position of the Nigerian Army on the matter. All sort of weapons recovered specifically from the Shiite sect have been handed over the Police authority few days after the incident.”

Credit: Leadership

Military Has Recovered Almost All Territories In Northeast– Brig. Gen. Rogers

The Chief of Civil/Military Affairs, Army HQ, Brig. Gen. Nicholas Rogers says territories held by the insurgents have been liberated as people are returning back to their communities gradually.

He added that the military has taken almost all the territories in the Northeast,“what is left are some villages between the boundaries of Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon particularly along the Lake Chad region”

The Brig. Gen. said that stability and calm have returned in Maiduguri, Damaturu, Gwoza, Bama, Baga, Monguno amongst other towns.

He also stated that some buildings like schools, churches that were burnt down are been rebuilt by the military, but noted that there are some challenges along the line.

In continuous fight against the insurgents and protecting the towns that have been liberated, the Brig. Gen revealed that other security agencies are yet to resume which is preventing the military from carrying out their full operations.

The Brig. Gen. also disclosed that several meetings have been held and is still ongoing to discuss the challenges in the system but noted that the responses are coming in slow.

Credit: ChannelsTV

What We Did With Recovered Abacha Loot- Okonjo-Iweala

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has “received several documents from the World Bank totalling over 700 pages on information on the spending of recovered assets stolen by the late General Abacha, with some of the documents suggesting that Abacha loot was spent on roads, electricity, education, health and water.”

This information was disclosed by SERAP executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, in a statement dated November 29, 2015.

The organisation said that “In the meantime our preliminary review of some of the documents and the letter from Mr Rachid Benmessaoud have revealed certain facts which raise more questions about what exactly happened to Abacha loot: First, that Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Minister of Finance in a letter dated 9 January 2005 explained to the Bank that around $500m (N65bn) of Abacha loot received from Switzerland was programmed into and spent in the 2004 and 2005 budgets on roads, electricity, education, water and health across all 6 geo-political zones of Nigeria.”

“Second, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala explained to the Bank that N18.60bn was spent on roads; N10.83bn spent on health; N7bn spent on education; N6.20bn spent on water; and N21.70bn spent on electricity. She also said that part of the funds were spent on new and ongoing investment projects. Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala said that relevant federal ministries have the full details on the spending of repatriated Abacha loot. The Bank noted that there was no funds monitoring and tracking mechanism in place to trace the spending of Abacha loot,” the organisation also disclosed.

“Third, Mr Rachid Benmessaoud confirmed that the World Bank played a monitoring role in a return of assets by Switzerland but that the Bank is not currently involved in the monitoring of spending of Abacha loot that have been returned to Nigeria in recent years. He said that the Bank would be prepared to set up a mechanism to monitor the use of Abacha loot if the Nigerian government requests the Bank’s assistance in this respect.”

“Given Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala’s involvement in the spending of Abacha loot, SERAP calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently probe the role of the Ministry of Finance and relevant federal ministries at the time in the spending of Abacha loot particularly given the strong allegations of mismanagement that characterised the use of the funds,” the organisation said.

Credit: PremiumTimes

70 Vehicles, N600m Generators, ACs Recovered From Yuguda- Bauchi Gov.

Bauchi State governor Mohammed Abubakar has said that the state government through its Recovery Committee has so far recovered over 70 vehicles, N600million generators and a number of air conditioners from the officials of the immediate past administration of former Governor Isa Yuguda.

Abubakar stated this during an official opening of register by the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) to collect signatures in support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war in Abuja.

The governor explained that immediately after his assumption of office, he started to toe the line of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft war by setting up a recovery committee, which was saddled with the responsibility of recovering all illegally-acquired vehicles and lands by the immediate past government functionaries.

He said, “I’m happy to be the first governor to register support for President Muhammadu Bahari’s anti-corruption war initiated by National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN). I believe the anti-corruption drive would also be factored along good governance, fighting corruption and security of lives and property.”

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El-Rufai Vows To Continue Demolition Until All Illegal Plots Are Recovered

The Kaduna State governor, Ahmed El-Rufai has vowed to continue the demolition of structures that ille­gally encroach on pub­lic places like schools, hospitals among others until the plots are recov­ered.

He said this to State House correspondents in an interview on Thurs­day night after meeting with Vice president Yemi Osinbajo.

He said that besides working to restore aes­thetics in the state, his administration intends to develop a new layout for Kaduna residents.

Explaining his reason for demolition, El-Rufai said, “We found on taking over that large portions of land meant for schools, hospitals, libraries and other public buildings have been encroached upon, carved out and sold to very important people thus, depriving the organ­isations the opportunity for future expansion.

“Our population is growing and we need to build more classrooms and hostels”.

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