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The Federal Government yesterday
said it was compiling an asset tracing team that will work with reputable
international bodies to trace and recover public assets in private hands.

This is even as government
disclosed that a retired permanent secretary went home with the government’s 40
Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and other vehicles.

Minister of Information and
Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated this in a statement issued in Lagos,
yesterday, said the fight against corruption was actually being guided by a
well-articulated strategy contrary to the misconception in some quarters.

The minister told urban express news online that  the identity of the retired permanent secretary will
remain hidden for now so as not to jeopardise the level of investigations.

Mohammed said the Code of Conduct
Bureau (CCB) will, from next year, commence electronic asset declaration to
facilitate compliance, including the search and retrieval of data on the assets
of public officers, as part of its comprehensive anti-corruption strategy.

He noted that government was not
just obsessed about prosecution alone, but was also taking preventive measures
to make corruption unattractive.

Mohammed itemised some milestones
of the administration’s anti-corruption strategy to include the recovery of 40
brand new SUVs and other vehicles from an unnamed former permanent secretary,
who single-handedly appropriated the vehicles to himself, strict enforcement of
the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and the constant fishing out of ghost workers
in the public service, among others.

“In this regard, government will
also escalate the use of non-conviction-based asset recovery methods to boost
revenue and diminish corruption and the perception that crime pays or criminals
can keep their loot. The Federal Government is getting Nigerians in diaspora
and international civil society organisations involved in the campaign for the
return of looted assets,’’ the minister stated.

Other measures already perfected to
strengthen the anti-corruption fight, Mohammed said, were the establishment of
the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Presidential
Committee on Asset Recovery and the Asset Tracing Committee; the setting up of
an Asset Register as well as the Whistleblower policy.

Besides, he said PACAC was working
with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MADs), especially the National
Bureau of Statistics (NBS), to improve data collection on corruption indicators
generally.

The minister stated that it was on
the recommendation of PACAC that a centralised management of recovered looted
assets was put in place, through the Central Asset Management Committee under
the leadership of Minister of Finance as legal custodian of government assets.

He emphasised that the move has
reduced the opportunity for re-looting of recovered assets as was prevalent
under the previous regime, explaining that the “EFCC, ICPC and all asset
recovery law enforcement agencies are mandatorily required to furnish the
Minister of Finance with full details of recovered asset whether cash or
otherwise.”

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