Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has revealed that 15 billion dollars is unaccounted for in the country’s defence spending.
He made this revelation while speaking at the 5th Annual Christopher Kolade Lecture on Business Integrity in Lagos on Friday, June 30, 2017.
According to him, “In our investigations into Defence spending, we discovered 15 billion dollars unaccounted for, with no guarantee that we will ever be able to recover it.
“You can imagine the damage done by that corrupt act.”
The Acting President was speaking on the lecture subject, “Prevention is Better than Cure Even on the Issue of Corruption”.
He made remarks about the dangerous consequences of corruption in the country and the impact it is having on the country’s prospects.
According to him, “Corruption is the robbery of the wealth of the nation, and thieves exist in every tribe or religion.
“You need to engage forensic consultants and hire other experts; even then, you will only have some hope of recovering some of what has been lost.
“Many countries are reluctant to return proceeds of corruption by introducing legal obstacles of different kinds to ensure that we do not get back the money.
“There is a long list of “What if’” – what if we were able to do something or invest even half of that money in economic or infrastructure projects before it disappeared?
“If some of that money went into boosting our reserves, our exchange rate will not be where it is today; so there lies evidence that corruption is cheaper to prevent than to cure.”
Osinbajo also commented on the government’s efforts to combat corruption, by putting measures in place to prevent it from happening.
He said, “President Muhammadu Buhari issued an order mandating immediate compliance to the Treasury Single Account system to simplify government accounting to provide a clear picture of what is coming in and going out.
“Over 20,000 bank accounts have been closed since the presidential order.
“Another example is the bank verification numbers which modified application to the federal payroll; we have been able to uncover more than 60,000 cases of ghost workers.
“Another important measure is getting all our armed forces personnel on the electronic human resource payroll to prevent scams in the service.”
He continued, “The solution really is to ensure stiffer control to prevent fraud and corruption.
“We will not succeed in preventing corruption to a significant extent unless the acts of corruption are met with appropriate levels of sanctions and deterrence.”
The event was organised by the Integrity Organisation Limited, an anti-corruption, research and advocacy organisation.
On Thursday, Osinbajo signed an executive order offering a nine months grace period to tax payers to regularise their tax status or face criminal prosecution for tax offences.
He said the scheme was specially targeted at taxpayers who had not declared their taxable incomes and assets, as well as those who don’t pay at all, and those who had been underpaying.