Bolstered by his recent appearance at the International Criminal Court (ICC) – The Hague where he gave a speech regarding his fight against corruption, President Buhari has brought the fight home to the Public Service.
A statement from the Presidential Panel on the fight against corruption has revealed that public servants are currently under the scrutiny of various anti-graft agencies as well as that of the panel in further perpetuation of the fight against corruption.
The statement revealed that over 400 names of past and present public servants linked to ownership of suspicious property in Maitama district of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja as well as overseas; especially the United Kingdom are currently under investigation.
Special Assistant to the President on Prosecutions and Head of Special Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla revealed this at the official launch of Properti Tracka platform, an initiative of the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) in Abuja.
He reiterated that the Buhari administration was resolute in its fight against corruption and that public officers have to be investigated on how they acquire their wealth.
The special assistant also insisted that there was nothing unconstitutional about the Executive Order 6 signed recently by the President, saying anybody who has not stolen money to acquire assets should not be jittery by the executive order.
He went ahead to reveal that the new law activated in UK, “Unexplained Wealth Order” has strengthened the effort of the Panel to recover stolen assets in the UK; cash as well as landed property.
“Thank God there is a law in UK that has strengthen our hands. The law is known as unexplained wealth order. That law says if you have property that is above 50 thousand pounds, you have to explain where you made the money to acquire that property.
“We have Nigerians who have properties in London, landed property, worth 20 million pounds. One of them I am investigating was a Group General Manager of NNPC who has a piece of property in London worth over 800 thousand pounds,” the personal assistant alleged.
While commending the Executive Director of ANEEJ, Reverend David Ugolor, for partnering with the Federal government in tackling corruption through improving transparency in property ownership, Chief Obono-Obla, opined that the fight against corruption should not be left in the hands of the President alone because everyone has suffered tremendously from corruption.
“I have already 400 names of some past and present public office holders who have property in Maitama district alone in my data that we are investigating and I will make them available to you. All of us have the duty to ask some Nigerians mostly present and past public office holders, some of them with massive estates, let them come and tell us how they make the money” he said.
He went further to challenge Nigerians to ask public servants the source of their wealth when it seems their lifestyle is bigger than their yearly income.
“For instance, if I earn less than N7 million a year, and at the end of my tenure I have property that is more than N200 million or one billion naira, you must find out how I make my money. It cannot be from my legitimate earnings. Most of these people who have properties in Maitama and Asokoro are public servants, earning less than N2 million a year. Where do they get the money? If they cannot explain where they made the money from, it means that is proceed of corruption”
He accused Nigerians of not engaging public officers when they engage in projects known to be well beyond their pay grade. He then recalled how a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Apo, Abuja, recently ordered temporary forfeiture of 86 luxury vehicles, together with four houses and a quarry plant in Abuja, belonging to a civil servant.
He went further to reveal that the seized luxury vehicles belonged to the Director of Finance and Account in the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. He noted that all the 86 exotic vehicles were brand new and that 23 of them were armoured vehicles.
“We first wrote to the Accountant General of the Federation to give us how much this director has earned from 2007 and 2017 and they gave us the figure that the man has earned about N30 million. But this man has 86 vehicles. I am not talking about toy vehicles, we are talking about exotic vehicles and 23 of them were armoured plated X Class Mercedes 200. One of those vehicles is going for about N250 million and we had Jaguar and so on….”
“….So, if he had earned N30 million in those years, where did he get the money to buy those vehicles. It means the money must have come from the treasury of Nigeria.”
He further revealed that the said director had other Properties across the country and abroad and all the assets had been seized.
“There was evidence that he had other properties in Nigeria and abroad. All these assets have been seized from him. That is the only way we can stop public officers from stealing; when you take over their assets and that is why some people are very uncomfortable with the Executive Order issued by Mr President”