Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), were absent at a public hearing on the status of recovered public funds and assets from 1999 to 2016 organised by the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Public Accounts and Finance, yesterday.
Also absent at the investigative hearing were the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), the Department of State Services (DSS), the Nigerian Customs Service, among other government agencies.
Chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts, Kingsley Chinda, expressed surprise that no government agency honoured its summons.
The lawmaker explained that the investigation was not a witch-hunt, said the agencies will be re-invited to appear before the committee by next Tuesday.
Chinda noted that “we made a publication in the newspapers and invited the Ministries, Departments and Agencies by way of letters.
“And, unfortunately, not one government ministry, agency or department is here. We invited the AGF, ICPC, EFCC, DSS, customs and several other agencies; about 18 MDAs. By next Tuesday, when we will resume sitting, we shall re-invite them.”
While declaring the public hearing open, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, said the House will leave no stone unturned in its quest to ascertain the whereabout of the funds and assets recovered by the government in the period under review.
Dogara, who was represented by the Deputy Chief Whip, Pally Iriase, stated that all along, there have been confusion about the status of funds and assets recovered from some citizens and corporate bodies from 1999 to 2016.
The speaker stated that the total value of recovered funds and assets within the period under review is estimated at $2 trillion,
He noted that the House has mandated its Committee on Financial Crimes to investigate whether any crimes have been committed in the course of the management and disbursement of funds recovered by government.
“It is common knowledge that there are a lot of conflicting reports and claims from various agencies of government concerning the status of the funds and assets recovered from some citizens and corporate entities by law enforcement agencies.
“As a parliament, we cannot fold our arms and allow the confusion trailing the whereabouts of the recovered funds and assets to continue.
“We believe that, as a parliament, we owe the people of Nigeria the duty to ascertain the resources available to government and how they are being appropriated in their interest.
“This is in line with the exercise of our constitutional powers in sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.”