A source in the Government said on Wednesday: “We have not seen it, it has not landed in our account. May be they have started the process, but we have not seen it,” he said.
He was reacting to reports in a online newspaper, TheNewsGuru.com, that the state government had refuted reports that the £4.2m looted by former Governor James Ibori from the United Kingdom has been returned to the state coffers.
TheNewsGuru.com, TNG reports that Idris had on Tuesday said the funds had been transferred to the Delta State Government when he appeared before the House of Representatives’ Ad hoc Committee on Assessment and Status of All Recovered Loots Movable and Immovable Assets from 2002 to 2020 by Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for Effective Efficient Management and Utilisation.
The Accountant-General told the Committee such funds looted from the treasury of a state are always returned to the state when repatriated.
“It was paid to Delta State,” he said when asked where the money was diverted to. “So such recoveries go specifically to those states. Honourable Chairman, any recovery arising from the looted funds from a particular state goes to the state. The state governors will not even allow this to fly.”
He added, “Some recoveries are for some state governments, specific state governments. I know there was a time recovery was made on behalf of Plateau State, there was one for Bayelsa, there is one for Delta,” he said when asked where the money was diverted to.
“You know they will not. They will take the Federal Government to court for holding their money. So we don’t joke or play with that, we pay them their money,” the AG told the House Committee on Tuesday.
‘Delta yet to receive a dime from FG’
However, in a swift reaction, the Delta State Government when contacted said neither the repatriated £4.2m looted funds nor the monthly allocation (May FAAC) had been received from federal government.
Sources close to the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led Delta State Government confided in TNG that the state has neither received the funds nor communicated to of the readiness of the federal government to do so.
“We have been bombarded with calls since the Accountant General made that unsubstantiated claims of the transfer of the funds to the Delta State Government. You are aware of the stand of the Attorney General of the Federation some few days back that the state won’t have a share of the money with FG despite efforts by the governor. Where the new development is coming from is still unknown to us. As I speak with you, we are yet to receive the monthly allocation. There is nothing to hide. Once the funds are transferred to us, Deltans and indeed the entire nation would be adequately informed and carried along on the expenditures, a top Delta State official told TNG on Wednesday morning.
AGF Malami rules out sharing repatriated funds with Delta State
TNG reports that Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had last week during a monitored interview on Channels Television ruled out the possibility of sharing the funds with the Delta State Government.
TNG reports that the Delta State Government and Niger Delta groups have earlier requested that the funds must on repatriation from the United Kingdom be transferred back to the state where it was pilfered from.
“I have spoken with the attorney-general of the federation. My attorney-general went to have a meeting with him. I think that we are working and we are likely to come on the same page. We have written a formal letter of protest to Mr President.
“We have made two suggestions; return the money directly to us or apply it directly to projects that we feel are of importance and are in Delta State so that Deltans can directly benefit from the repatriated funds and I don’t think anybody can fault that line (of thinking)”, Governor Okowa said in an interview in a recent interview on Channels TV.
However, the AGF said Nigeria would not deviate from the agreement reached with the United Kingdom government concerning the disbursement of the fund.
Malami while responding to questions on a monitored Channels Television programme last week said the government would expend the funds on projects. He listed the projects the money would be spent on according to the agreement reached.
The minister said, “The way international diplomatic processes operate with particular regard to the recovery of looted asset is more or less about engagement among the nations of interest.”
Okowa must use funds judiciously for benefits of all Deltans – APC
Meanwhile the Delta Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to make judicious use of the funds.
The party’s State Publicity Secretary (Caretaker), Mr Sylvester Imonina, made the call in a statement on Tuesday in Asaba.
He commended the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on ‘Assessment and Status of all Recovered loots; Movable and Immovable Assets from 2002 to 2020,’ for effective and efficient management of the situation.
He said “The Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, told members of the committee and Nigerians that the recovered 4.2 million pounds allegedly siphoned by former Delta Gov. Chief James Ibori, has been paid into the state government account.
“This step is commendable. Indeed, we of the Delta APC want to appreciate the President Muhammadu Buhari for making sure that what was looted from Delta was brought back to the state for its development.
“We are indeed grateful to Mr President for the fatherly disposition used in handling the circumstances and issues surrounding the recovery and the return of same to the state.
“Compared to some states in Nigeria of today which receive less amount of monies from the federation account, there is no gainsaying the fact that the spirit of rapacity still exists in some government officials in Delta.
“For the sake of our dear state, we call on the State Governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, not to allow this economic lifeline (monies) to go the way of the past.
” The people of the state want to see positive changes in their lives,” he said.
Imonina urged the governor to be transparent in handling the recovered money and other monies accruing to the state.
“As a matter of fact, we urge the governor to tie this money to specific projects in the state.
“This will in no small measure bring joy to the people whenever they see the projects this money is used for,” he said.
He, however, said the people still feared that the returned money would likely be re-looted by those in government.
“To allay this fear, PDP led-government should be patriotic in its acts of governance.
“The APC noted that in view of the happenings in the state, the yearnings of people should not be brushed aside.
“On the other hand, the party calls on all citizens to be at alert and ask questions with follow-up actions on how what belongs to the state is expended by the Okowa led-government,” he said.
▪︎ Main report by The News Guru