The chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) Professor Itsey Sagay said Thursday that the country has made unprecedented progress in the fight against corruption.
Sagay said this while fielding questions from State House correspondents after a close-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
“In the area of recoveries, I don’t need to tell anybody, it is unprecedented in the annals of this country that we could be recovering so much assets illegally acquired mainly by public servants but not only by public servants,” he said.
He said proceeds of the anti-corruption fight are already being ploughed into the country’s treasury where it is used to make life better for citizens.
“The more remarkable aspect of it is that this recovered loot is being ploughed into the national budget every year and used for the Social Investment Programme. So when you hear about feeding of over 12 million school children; as when I checked last, having nutritious meal every day, you hear of poor families being supported to survive and stand on their feet or over 500,000 young people who are being trained in all sorts of skills and paid N30,000 a month by the government and the interest free loans given to small scale businesses all over the country.
“It’s all part of this money, not a kobo of it is left, everything is ploughed back and I think the country should know that, it’s very unprecedented, this never happened before in the history of this country, everything is ploughed back.
“Then we have succeeded in improving the quality of prosecution by giving the anti-prosecution agencies a lot of capacity building, train them in the manner cases should be prosecuted and how charges should be drawn. Judges up to the Supreme Court have also benefitted from this programme.
“In the era of corruption, you will be surprised if you think back that nobody talks about fuel subsidy corruption anymore. Previously we were losing almost N400 billion every year on fake fuel subsidy payments but now, it is zero. So generally, the tone of the country has improved. The country has gained tremendously, corruption has gone down,” he said.
He warned those engaging in corrupt practices to have a re-think as modalities have been put in place to detect and prosecute them.
“There is still corruption but it has gone down and anybody who indulges particularly an officer of a state who engages in it knows the risk he is taking. We have the TSA, we have the bank verification number, all those things have made an incredible change in our level of anti-corruption.
“Now you cannot hide money in the banks anymore and agencies cannot hide money in various banks accounts which they spend without the knowledge of the government.
Everything is in one place, everything is transparent, thanks to this government,” he said.
Asked how much the committee has so far recovered, he said: “I think the Minister of Information is best placed to say how much but I can say roughly internally is almost about N1 trillion because you see that in 2017, N500 billion was spent on this Social Investment Programme and in 2018 the same amount for the program.
“So, it must be roughly about N1 trillion although we also have monies that were recovered from abroad being ploughed back into the same system.”