Home Economy EFCC recovers N152bn, £1.18m, $386.2m, 5.369573 Bitcoins in 2021 as FG names terrorist financiers

EFCC recovers N152bn, £1.18m, $386.2m, 5.369573 Bitcoins in 2021 as FG names terrorist financiers

by Business News Report

Federal Government has said that the use of Biometric Verification Number BVN has aided the removal of 54,000 fake payroll entries and that the Treasury Single Account  TSA, has consolidated 17,000 bank accounts   in CBN saving N4 billion monthly. According to Minister of Information Lai Mohammed in 2021 alone, the EFCC recovered a total monetary amount of N152,088,698,751.64; £1,182,519.75, 50 Emirati Dirham, 1,723,310 Saudi Riyal, 1,900 South African Rand; US$386,220,202.85; 156,246.76 Euros; 1,400 Canadian Dollars; 5.36957319 Bitcoin and 0.09012 Ethereum. He also said during the same period, the organisation returned fraudulently-obtained funds totalling US$103,722,102.83, 3,000 Pound Sterling; 7,695 Singapore Dollar and 1,091 Euros to 11 countries of victims who came into the country. 

Similarly, the minister said that ICPC had played a pivotal role in bringing about structural changes in the operations of the government, especially regarding improvements in MDAs budget utilisation, better value for money, improved project completion, service delivery and higher level of anti-corruption awareness. He said: “Between 2019 and 2021, ICPC traced 2,000 projects worth over N300 billion. During the same period, 326 contractors of abandoned projects across the six geo-political zones were forced by the Commission to return to site to complete projects worth N32.183 billion. Also, the ICPC’s Assets Tracing, Recovery and Management (ATRM) project led to the recovery of cash totalling N34.346 billion and US$1.62 million between 2019 and 2021.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who spoke at a news conference in Abuja, disclosed that no fewer than 45 suspects of terrorism financing would soon be put on trial and seizure of assets. The minister said that out of the 553 persons identified as sponsors of terrorism, in the 2020-2021 report by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), 96 are direct financiers of terrorism, 424 are associates/supporters of the financiers, 123 are companies while 33 are bureaux de change. Twenty six others, according to the minister are identified as bandits and kidnappers by the NFIU. At the same time, the minister disclosed that Nigeria had shared intelligence on Boko Haram, ISWAP and kidnapping with no fewer than 19 countries but did not say the rationale behind the move. Mohammed said that from the NFIU analysis, tax evasion and tax avoidance linked to corruption, the country lost a whooping sum of N7.6 trillion in value added tax and withholding tax. He said the NFIU had also sent 1,165 intelligence reports on cases of corruption, money laundering and other serious offences to 27 domestic agencies for investigation, prosecution and asset recovery. On terrorism financing, NFIU had intelligence exchanges on Boko Haram, ISWAP, banditry, kidnapping and others with 19 countries.

Among the major milestones in corruption fight listed by Mohammed are: the adoption of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), Petroleum Industry Act, Financial Autonomy for State Legislature and Judiciary (2020), Whistle-blower Policy, Assets Recovery, Justice and Law reforms, Nigeria’s membership of the Open Government Partnership as well as the various instruments at the disposal of the Federal Government to track, trace and stop the flow of illicit funds used in financing terrorist activities within Nigeria, among others. Mohammed said that the implementation of the TSA system in more than 90 per cent of all Federal MDAs has resulted in the consolidation of more than 17,000 bank accounts previously spread across Deposit Money Banks in the country, and monthly savings of an average of N4 billion in bank charges. He said that the use of Bank Verification Number, BVN, to verify the Federal Government’s payroll on the IPPIS platform has so far led to the detection of 54,000 fraudulent payroll entries while the government has also deployed the same facility to verify beneficiaries and vendors in the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the N-Power Programme and the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP), among others.

He also boasted that the whistle-blower policy of the administration had
helped in the cleansing of IPPIS, led to compliance on TSA and enhanced the Procurement Act 2007, revealing that as at 2020, a total sum of N700 billion has been recovered through the policy. The minister also showcased the success story of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, pointing out that in 2021 alone, the EFCC secured a total of 2,220 convictions, which represents a 127 percent increase in the number of convictions (976) recorded in 2020, and a far cry from the 195 convictions secured in 2016, the 189 in 2017, the 312 convictions in 2018, and the 1,280 recorded in 2019. He explained that the 2021 figure of 2,220 convictions represents a 98.49 per cent success rate, with only 34 cases (representing 1.51 per cent) discharged.

“Also, the Commission’s System Study and Review of personnel and capital votes of MDAs resulted in savings of N261 billion to the government between 2019 and 2021. ICPC has also secured 66 convictions from the 243 cases it filed in court during the same three-year period”. The minister also spoke on the executive orders signed by President Muhammadu Buhari  in May 2020 that unequivocally granted financial autonomy to State Houses of Assembly, State Judiciaries as well as the Local Governments, as the third tier of government, which mandated the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct, from source, funds due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation of states that fail to comply, but blamed the lack of financial autonomy for the local government for the insecurity that affects many council areas in the rural areas of  the country. He said, “The financial suffocation of LGs is a major enabler of insecurity and terrorism in the Nigerian countryside. Most of Nigeria’s 774 LGAs exist in rural areas where effective local governance is an existential issue. To underscore their responsibility to the people, President Buhari recently reminded the LG Chairmen of their burden of accounting for every kobo allocated to their Councils, should they fold their arms and allow the sharing to continue by the state governors.

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