In what appeared as self-adulation, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday cautioned his successors not return the loots and assets recovered by his administration from those who looted the nation’s treasury.
He recalled that stolen assets seized from looters during his military regime were returned to them when he was ousted in 1983.
Buhari said it was in order not to see a repeat of this that the present administration has been selling off assets recovered from looters and putting the money in the government coffers to forestall the incidents of the past.
The president was responding to a question on Nigeria’s anti-graft battle during a joint press briefing at the end of Namibian President, Hage Geingob’s visit to the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said: “We are pursuing people who have declared assets. But we find out that they have much more than they have declared. We follow them through their bank accounts to the companies they formed to the contracts they got.
“Sometimes they swear to Almighty God that their structures that cannot develop feet and run away does not belong to them. Then they are confronted with their bank accounts.
“Again, using my experiences when I was arrested and detained, people were given back what they have appropriated. This time around, I said we are going to sell them and put the money into the treasury and I will see whoever comes after that will have the courage to take money from the treasury and give to anybody.”
Buhari also said his administration would soon reorganize the nation’s judiciary to ensure effective fight against corruption in the country.
His administration, he said, plans to dedicate some judges to deal with corruption cases where all those found wanting in their dealings will be prosecuted. The president added: “We are going to dedicate some judges to deal with corruption cases and try to put forward and prosecute all those that investigations proved that they have questions to answer.
“So that is what I’m telling you that we haven’t given up. We are doing our best and we will recover as much as humanly possible.”
Buhari who said the country had received the cooperation of other countries in the war against corruption despite the difficulties involved, added that the government was trying to sell recovered stolen assets and return the money to the treasury.
“So we are willing but it’s very difficult under this multi-party democracy system. We are getting the cooperation of countries. We are trying to sell the assets wherever we found them and bring the money into the Nigerian treasury. This is all I can say at this stage because we are reorganising the judiciary.
“We are going to dedicate some judges to deal with corruption cases and try to put forward and prosecute all those that investigations proved that they have question s to answer. So, that is what I’m telling you that we haven’t given up. We are doing our best and we will recover as much as humanly possible,’’ he said.
In his own briefing, Geingob who thanked the Nigerian government for its support and assistance to Namibia, especially on the deployment of Nigerian volunteers to the country under the Technical Aid Corps, said he was in Nigeria to pay his last respect to the late former Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA), Prof. Adebayo Adedeji, whom he described as his mentor.
Adedeji, who passed on April 25, this year, will be buried on July 7.
Geingob congratulated Buhari on his efforts in the fight against corruption in Nigeria and beyond, lamenting that corruption in Africa had become a menace, pointing out that strong people like Buhari were needed to put the scourge under control.
The Namibian president also said on his part, he had declared war against both poverty and corruption in his country, adding that he was following the footpaths of Buhari.
“He (Buhari) is taking steps that will encourage all of us. I declared war against poverty and corruption. I declared my assets publicly. I therefore emulate my brother here,’’ he added