President Muhammadu Buhari, who had thought that he had seen the worst of how corrupt practices have in the last few years brought Nigeria to her knees, last week, almost lost his cool when it was brought to his attention that a whopping $16billion.
At the official exchange rate of N196, this comes to N3.136 trillion; while, with the parallel market rate of N315, it comes to a whopping N5.04trillion – of the nation’s crude oil revenue loss could be traced to some sharp practices by some individuals in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.
The quantum of funds in question are revenue that ought to have accrued to Federal Government through oil-lifting deals which are now subject of intensive investigations.
Specifically, one of the arrow heads of the crude oil lifting scam…who has been invited and interrogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, at least twice before, has been granted administrative bail, and “who is alleged to be warehousing a sizable chunk of the money, drew the ire of Mr. President”, an Aso Rock Presidential Villa source disclosed.
According to Vanguard, even visiting South African President, Jacob Zuma, was caught in the cross winds of Buhari’s reinvigorated anti-graft stand, as he said every kobo of the stolen funds must be recovered.
Similarly, information suggests that the United States government is helping in the provision of intelligence on how to trace some of the stolen funds from Nigeria that were secretly moved out.
Benin Republic and South Africa have both become safe havens for Nigeria’s stolen funds.
According to Aso Rock insiders, the funds were “supposed to be proceeds from some of the crude oil sold on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria by these people and for which they were said not to have made the necessary returns to the coffers of the country”.
Continuing, one of the sources said: “You needed to have been there. You needed to have seen Mr. President. He was almost moved to tears at the colossal fraud that had taken place in the country.
“He became dejected because at a time when the nation’s resources had gone down badly, at a time when the foreign reserves are also not as much as would be befitting of a nation with vast potentials, such a huge amount of money can be traced to the illegal activities of some people.
“But Mr. President has ordered that every kobo must be recovered. Whatever it takes, he has made it clear that those funds must be recovered.”
Records of the oil-lifting schedules, timelines of transactions as well as proceeds that were meant to have accrued to government, the source said, “showed that some people just constituted themselves into a parallel government and were just making away with the nation’s resources.”
TRACING STOLEN FUNDS
Powerful forces in the Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency were neck deep in the mindless looting. As part of its bilateral agreement on intelligence sharing and anti-money laundering surveillance, the US government is collaborating with the Buhari administration on how to trace some of the stolen funds.
It was discovered that whereas the Federal Government has relaxed its forex policy, there has been a heavy movement of cash (in dollars) from Benin Republic back into the system in Nigeria.
The simmering diplomatic row between Nigeria and South Africa, sources disclosed, has more to do with the seeming unwillingness of the South African government to repatriate alleged stolen funds that have been traced to that country.
“This was part of what President Zuma came to resolve with Nigeria during his visit last week.”