By G9ija

The Federal Government said yesterday it has recovered $1 billion, being looted funds, since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration till date.

The Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, affirmed that the recovered assets had been deployed to various sectors of the economy, including poverty alleviation.

The AGF, while revealing that preceding government recorded only 109 convictions before 2015, said the Buhari administration has convicted over 3,000 offenders and recovered about $1b to date.

He expressed government’s concern over sundry cases of budget padding, describing the development as worrisome.

While noting that necessary measures would be explored to address the menace, Malami

announced the council’s approval of the new anti-corruption strategy document to strengthen anti-graft fight in the country.

He said:  “FEC approved validation extension of the National Anti- Corruption program to 2026. A new policy which resulted from cooperation amongst Justice.”

He noted that the anti- corruption initiatives had helped the government to recover about $1billion stolen funds from the public coffers, adding that “the new anti- corruption strategy will strengthen the war against corruption between 2022 and 2026.“

Malami, while responding to question on budget padding, decried the menace allegedly carried out by Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.

Specifically, Malami’s position is coming on the heels of several revelations from the ongoing MDAs budget defence in the National Assembly.

Recall that the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Saddiya Farouk, had blamed the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, for adding N206bn to the humanitarian ministry’s budget.

Farouq, who appeared before the Senate Committee on Special Duties on Monday to defend the 2023 budget, claimed that the ministry requested some projects for the North East Development Commission and the National Social Safety Net Project in the 2022 budget, which were not released, but was surprised to see an inflated amount in the 2023 budget of the ministry.

Elisha Abbo, the APC senator representing Adamawa North senatorial district, had asked the minister about the inflated N206 billion in the budget.

The minister said:  “Yes, we made mention of the projects for 2022 that were not released, and part of it was for the NEDC.”

Malami, while responding to questions on the revelations alleging budget padding, stated that the federal government was studying the details and would do what was necessary to address it.