The Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that all looted funds recovered by his administration are accounted for.
The NDBMG is a civil society group in the oil-rich Niger Delta region and has been involved in programmes to engender resource accountability in the region.
In a statement Sunday by its Executive Director, George-Hill Anthony, the Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group faulted the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, for saying “looted funds would be returned to where they were stolen from”.
The group expressed the belief that the minister must have been misquoted on the matter but added that Nigerians would be thoroughly embarrassed if indeed the statement was attributed to her.
“For the records, budgetary or fiscal application is a process. Such a process must follow an interlocking fiscal template from conceptualization, tabulation, surgeries for the envelopes, passage, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, impact assessment, among others”, Mr. Anthony said.
Funds looted from the public treasury were not just taken out from various bank accounts of the government but had followed a process, the group said.
“Somewhat, measures for such process, include, a public procurement mechanism, where funds were processed for procurement purposes, and thereafter were either misapplied, not applied, partly applied or mercilessly looted from government covers.
“Therefore, any fund so looted, cannot go back to where it was looted from without a process. Already, the budget circles for any particular year in question, which the funds were looted from, have closed”.
The group’s executive director further argued that some of the capital procurement that may have been used to loot such monies may have been for envelopes far beyond a single fiscal year.
He, therefore, mooted the idea of returning the looted funds back into the budgetary system and then using it to address the needs of the country or fund some of the projects for which they were originally meant for.
For instance, Anthony argued that the funds be included in the budgets of the agencies from which they were looted and used in carrying out projects they were meant for.
He said, “These monies said to be refunded cannot out rightly go back to where they were stolen.
“It would further interest Nigerians to know that, some projects that funds may have been padded or looted from, may either have been poorly executed or abandoned”.
While reminding Nigerians about how the Sani Abacha loot was misapplied, the Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group insisted that every recovered loot must be channeled into the federal and states budgets before they are used.