The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has said that the National Assembly will not continue to look on as confusion trails the recovery of looted funds and assets, adding that federal lawmakers are poised to unravel the mystery behind the process.
Dogara dropped this hint Tuesday, in his opening remark at a one-day public hearing by the House Joint Committee on Public Accounts and Finance on ‘the need to ascertain the status of recovered public assets from 1999 to date’.
He said, “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.”
The Speaker explained that it was for this reason that the House of Representatives resolved to mandate the Joint Committee to investigate the issue in the “interest of accountability and transparency.”
He added that the investigation had become necessary in order to ascertain how resources are being appropriated, and that the intervention was in line with the duties of the National Assembly as stated in the 1999 Constitution.
In his words, “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 Nigerian Constitution, 1999 as amended.”
Dogara said the total value of recovered funds and assets is estimated at $2 trillion and the House has also mandated its Committee on Financial Crimes to investigate whether any crime has been committed in the course of the management and disbursement of funds recovered by the Federal Government in the last 12 years.
He further urged the committee to handle the matter with utmost seriousness as it is capable of eroding the credibility of the present administration.
Responding, the Chairman, Joint House Committee on Public Accounts and Finance, Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers) said the purpose of the public hearing was to ensure that there are clear rules on how recovered funds and assets should be utilised and ensure strict accountability and disbursement in line with extant laws and national priorities.
He noted that recent statements by the Federal Government on recovered loots appear conflicting and contradictory, hence the need by the joint Committee to unravel the knotty issues.
“We need to find out and declare to all Nigerians who recovered what, total sum recovered, where it is kept, what has been spent, and how it was spent, including mobile, immobile and liquid assets,” Chinda assured.