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FG laments budget padding, recovers $1bn looted funds

The Federal Government on Wednesday said it recovered about $1bn in looted funds since the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) started in 2015.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, revealed this to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by Buhari.

While revealing that the Federal Government recorded 109 convictions before 2015, Malami said the present regime had convicted over 3,000 offenders.

He recalled that over $300m was recovered from Switzerland in 2017.

The money, he said, was eventually deployed in the reduction of poverty through social investment programmes such as NPower and Trader Money, among others.

Malami also announced that the council had approved a new anti-corruption strategy document to reinforce anti-graft operations nationwide.

The justice minister expressed disappointment at budget padding, a practice he described as worrisome.

This follows revelations from the ongoing budget defence of the various ministries, departments and agencies at the National Assembly.

The PUNCH reported that the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, had blamed the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, for adding N206bn to the humanitarian ministry’s budget.

Similarly, the Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd), also told the Senate that the finance minister had inserted N11bn into his 2023 budget.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, also pointed fingers at the finance minister for budget padding.

Responding to queries on the issue, Malami said the FG was studying the revelations and would explore available measures to deal with them.

He noted, “Whichever way one looks at it, budget padding is bad. If you budget N5bn for roads and N3bn of that fund is diverted, it means the government has lost that money and it will take longer to complete the project. The government is concerned and will do what is necessary to address the issue.”

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