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FG Has Been Borrowing From Recovered Loot – Finance Minister

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The Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed has revealed that the government has been borrowing from recovered loots to fund the budget. The minister revealed this while appearing before the House of Representatives committee investigating recovered loots on Thursday. The minister, who appeared alongside the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, among other revelations, said that the federal government borrowed from recovered loot to fund its operations, and that the unusual circumstances the country found herself had made it difficult to pay back the loan. Ms. Ahmed, however, said that the government was hoping to pay back in the 2022 budget. The chairman of the committee, Adeogun Adejoro, said that it was imperative for the committee to know the amount of recovered loot and where it was being kept. Ms. Ahmed noted she had no idea of the number of accounts being used to keep the recovered loot. Adding that N50 billion was provided from recovered loot to fund the 2020 budget, adding that there were two types of recovery accounts- interim forfeiture and final forfeiture accounts.

She, however, said that the minister had a record of what had been recovered and the amount that had come into the account.

The minister said that in the case of interim forfeiture, the investigation had not been concluded, adding that such money could not be touched by the federal government.

She added that until investigations were concluded, the money could not be utilised.

The lawmakers condemned the withdrawals from the accounts without the funds being transferred to the consolidated account.

A member of the committee, Wole Oke said the government withdrew N19 billion from the EFCC recovery account and transferred it to the African Development Bank (AfDB) with evidence of budgetary allocation.

Oke stated further that the government also borrowed N20 billion to fund the budget of the Ministry of Defence.

“From the EFCC Account, you took N19 billion. You took a whole N19 billion from the EFCC account and paid an international organization. N19 whole billion is not remitted here. I am sure the accountant-general is familiar with this money. On what basis did you withdraw or transfer the money?”

Adejoro queried the Accountant General for N150 million, which according to him is missing.

Mr. Idris, however, said that accounts of all agencies responsible for recovered loots were linked with the Treasury Single Accounts (TSA). He added that no single agency of government could lay claim to owning the recovered loot because it belonged to the federation account and also because they were recovered loots.

He also added that some of the recovered loots were utilised for budget implementation.

Meanwhile, the committee resolved to summon Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, to give an explanation of the status of the accounts.

The committee adjourned till Friday.