…says FG plans to recover N5trn in evaded taxes
Johnchuks Onuanyim, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has recovered over N1 trillion stolen funds since 2015, stated the All Progressives Congress (APC) Legacy Group.
The group, which is a voluntary think-tank of the ruling party, also said under the Project Lighthouse of the present administration, it has identified debts in excess of N5 trillion, owed the Federal Government by individuals and corporate entities.
In a statement signed by the former APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman, APC Caretaker Committee member, Barr. Ismail Ahmed and Tolu Ogunlesi, they reiterated the present administration’s commitment to recover looted funds.
Explaining the steps taken by the present administration to recover loot funds, the group said: “In addition to looted and hidden funds, the Buhari Administration is also focused on ensuring that taxes and other debts owed the Federal Government are recovered in full. To this end the Federal Ministry of Finance launched the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) in 2017, and the Voluntary Offshore Asset Regularization Scheme (VOARS) in 2018. VAIDS was followed by the launch of Project Lighthouse in 2018, by the Federal Ministry of Finance, as a data-mining initiative that aggregates tax, income and asset data from individuals and companies, enabling the Government to have a full picture of levels of tax compliance. So far Project Lighthouse has identified debts in excess of N5 trillion, owed the Federal Government by individuals and corporate entities, with recoveries ongoing.”
Further, the group said: “Under President Buhari’s watch the Federal Government has prioritized the recovery and return of stolen assets belonging to the Nigerian people. One of the first things the President did upon assumption of office was the establishment of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), which has helped to expand technical capacity within Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies, as well as within the judiciary. One outcome of this is the significant increase in the use of Non-Conviction Based Asset Forfeiture Mechanisms (Interim and Final Forfeitures) by the country’s anti-corruption agencies.
“High-profile recoveries include the following: $322 million Abacha Loot from the Government of Switzerland; $311 million Abacha Loot from the Bailiwick of Jersey; $100 million recovered by the EFCC for the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), from a company operating in the oil and gas sector; 4.2 million pounds sterling of Ibori Loot from the UK Government; 53 billion Naira for the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), from a real estate developer; $43 million security funds from an apartment in Ikoyi; and 189 billion naira in ‘restrained’ funds from inflated personnel budgets, following ICPC’s scrutiny of practices, systems and procedures of MDAs’ personnel cost from 2019 to 2020. Billions of naira in pension funds have been recovered from local and foreign Insurance Companies who have been holding on to assets of the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).
“lCPC’s audit of Constituency Projects covering 2015 to 2018 helped recover 2 billion naira of diverted funds and assets, and also forced about 300 contractors to return to site to complete abandoned or poorly-executed projects. In August 2021 the ICPC commenced the third Phase of this Constituency and Executive Projects Tracking Exercise. In 2019 alone, ICPC also recovered 32 billion naira worth of land, buildings and vehicles. In 2021, the EFCC and ICPC have continued their recovery efforts, with billions of naira in cash assets already recovered, either through Interim or Final Forfeiture Orders.
“Since the President assumed office in 2015, close to a trillion naira worth of stolen funds and assets have been recovered in all. All final forfeitures are being deployed for use in the Government’s special Infrastructure and Social Investment Programmes, or put into the annual Budget. The most recent Abacha and Ibori Loots were transferred to the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), for transparent management under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).”
The APC group also applauded federal government for blocking financial leakage in government.
Extolling this the group said: “Other technology-enabled initiatives that are yielding results in terms of plugging the leakage of government revenues include the automation of the issuance and management of Import Duty Exemption Certificates, the ongoing rollout of a national vehicle registry (which will help bring an end to the evasion of vehicle duties), and the Customs Single Window project. The successful rollout of the Automated Payment System for the Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge Rail Line is another step in this direction.”
They submitted that President Buhari will continue to ensure that government monies and revenues are safeguarded and put to the most efficient and transparent use for the benefit of the Nigerian people. APC is working to rebuild Nigeria after years of neglect and destruction. President Buhari is laying a solid and sustainable foundation for Nigeria’s greatness!