Leke Baiyewu and Matthew Ochei
26 May 2021
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THE Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris, on Tuesday, said the £4.2m looted by a former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, which the Federal Government recently repatriated from the United Kingdom, had been returned to the state.
Idris made this known in Abuja on Tuesday when he appeared before the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on Assessment and Status of All Recovered Loots Movable and Immovable Assets from 2002 to 2020 by Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for Effective Efficient Management and Utilisation.
This is contrary to the earlier position of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who recently stated that the state could not benefit from the recovered loot.
Malami had stated that Delta was not captured in the agreements signed with the British Government, which was a precondition for the release of the money.
The minister had stressed that Nigeria would execute other projects with the fund other than the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge, which had been listed in the agreement.
Incidentally, Malami also appeared before the committee together with the accountant-general
Shortly after the minister left the venue, Idris, however, stated that such funds looted from the treasury of a state are always returned to the state, adding that states could sue the Federal Government to recover such funds.
The Chairman of the committee, Adejoro Adeogun, had asked about the Ibori loot after the lawmakers had grilled Idris for about 35 minutes.
Adeogun said, “Recovered loot; is it recovery for only the Federal Government or the federation?”
Idris replied, “…Depending on the nature of recovery. I think there is the need, really, to have an in-depth understanding of this. Some recoveries are for state governments – specific state governments. I know there was a time recovery was made on behalf of Plateau State; there was one for Bayelsa…different states…even Delta. Such recoveries go specifically to those states.”
The chairman said, “Let us give an example. There is something trending; recovery of the Ibori loot.
The accountant-general said, “It was paid to the state; Delta? Yes, Delta State. It was paid to Delta State.
Adeogun asked, “But that is contrary to the information that it was to be used for specific projects.”
Idris said, “No. Honourable chairman, honorable committee, any recovery that is arising from looted funds from a particular state goes to the state. The state governors will not even allow this (takeover by FG) to fly. So, we don’t joke; we don’t play with that. We pay them their money.”
Meanwhile, the Delta State Government said it had yet to receive the £4.2m recovered fund from the Federal Government as announced by the Accountant General of the Federation.
Though several calls put across to the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Olise Ifeajika, were not answered as of the time of filling this report, one of the aides to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said the state had yet to confirm the receipt of the money.
He said, “We have not confirmed the receipt yet; if it comes, definitely, we will let the world know.”