‘Some of the people that we recovered money from have even returned to Nigeria contested elections’
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) Atiku Abubakar has explained how his committee recovered $2.8bn stolen fund from corrupt public officials during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, in which he served as vice-president.
Atiku, who stated this during an interactive session organised by the Arewa Joint Committee held at the Arewa House, Kaduna, said no government had been able to achieve such a feat in the fight against corruption.
He said some corrupt officials still came back to the country to contest elections and became political office holders.
He said, “The issue of corruption is multi-dimensional. When we came into office we had evidence from the investigative bodies of the list of people who stole money and where the money had been kept. So I went to Mr President and I said if we say we are going to prosecute all these people, we will spend the next 10 years until we leave office, we will not be able to jail them, we will not get the money.
“So, he said, ‘what do you propose?’Then I proposed we set up a panel, to call each and everyone of them confidentially. Then he set up a panel, he made me the chairman, made the attorney general a member.
“We started calling them one by one, and say we have evidence you have stolen money and this is where the money is, return the money and we give you two or five per cent and within a few months we collected $2.8bn.
“Since then no government has been able to recover stolen money and some of the people that recovered money have even returned to Nigeria contested elections, they were in the National Assembly, they are governors and so on and so forth.
“This is one way you can deal with corruption. Another way you can deal with corruption is to make sure that the loopholes that allow public officers to be corrupt are blocked; the loopholes that are in our systems should not allow public officers to steal money. You cannot sit down as head of state and you don’t know what your ministers are doing, what your directors are doing, you don’t know what anybody is doing, it’s not possible. Anyway, not with Atiku, maybe with somebody else,” he said.
The former vice-president also lamented the current socioeconomic challenges bedeviling the North.
He said he had the magic wand to surmount the challenges.
He said, “I am committed to articulating and implementing transformation and development agenda of a united, secure and prosperous country.
“Nigeria has never been overwhelmed by insecurity in all parts of the country. Sadly, we have reached a point where the functions of the state have been usurped by separatists, bandits insurgents and terrorists.”