Updated: February 26, 2021
The Nigerian Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, confirmed on Sunday that billions of naira the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had claimed to have recovered since 2015 cannot be traced or verified by the Ministry of Finance.
Why it matters: President Buhari came to power in 2015 blasting the previous administration, and vowing to crush Boko Haram and fight corruption tooth and nail. He boasted that corruption needed to be killed before it kills Nigeria. But the admission in a statement today by the Minister of Finance has put his whole claims into jeopardy.
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Background: On February 9, 2018, Mrs. Adeosun sent a letter to the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, complaining that the billions of naira he had claimed to have recovered from Nigerian mega thieves were nowhere in the records of the Ministry. She said the figures being bandied by Mr. Magu in the media could not be verified by her ministry.
“The use of recovery figures in media reports by the EFCC do not reconcile with the records of the Ministry,” Mrs. Adeosun wrote. It was supposed to be an internal letter among government agencies. But it was leaked to the media.
As anger began to rise and a panoply of questions were being asked, the Minister admitted on Sunday that she was the author of the letter, but rejected claims that any conclusion should be reached. She said there was no ulterior motive behind her letter.
“The attention of the Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has been drawn to media reports misrepresenting her innocuous letter to the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, on cash recoveries by the Federal Government,” her office wrote in a statement to Today News Africa on Sunday.
“The Minister wishes to state explicitly that the letter dated 9th February, 2018, was a standard letter aimed at improving controls over the recovered funds.
“There is no ulterior motive behind the letter as alleged in some media reports but to enable the reconciliation and harmonisation of the figures on recovered funds by the Government,” the statement added.
About an hour later, an updated statement by the Ministry added EFCC had already provided the information asked and reconciliation of figures was ongoing.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the EFCC has subsequently provided the requested information and reconciliation is ongoing”.
The admission that the money reportedly recovered for three years could not be found has triggered criticisms that the whole fight against corruption in Nigeria by the President Buhari administration was all about propaganda and no real substance.