The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has vowed on Tuesday, in the United States that his administration would trace the accounts of individuals who stashed away ill-gotten oil money, freeze and recover the loot and prosecute the culprits.
He said some of the former ministers were selling about one million barrels of stolen crude per day.
Reacting to questions from members of Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) in the United States and Canada at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC on the third day of his visit, the President lamented that “Corruption in Nigeria has virtually developed into a culture where honest people are abused.”
According to him, “250,000 barrels per day of Nigerian crude are being stolen and people sell and put the money into individual accounts,” adding that the United States and other developed countries “are helping us to trace such accounts now. We will ask that such accounts be frozen and prosecute the persons. The amount involved is mind-boggling. Some former ministers were selling about one million barrels per day. I assure you that we will trace and repatriate such money and use the documents to prosecute them. A lot of damage has been done to the integrity of Nigeria with individuals and institutions already compromised.”
Citing the example of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), President Buhari said unlike what obtained during his tenure as Federal Commissioner for Petroleum under military regime when the NNPC had only two traceable accounts before paying oil proceeds into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), “now everybody is doing anyhow.”
The President, who expressed skepticism on the existence of oil subsidy, said if subsidy was removed, transport, housing and food prices would go out of control and the average worker would suffer untold hardship.
While agreeing that the “economy is in an extremely bad shape,” following 16 years of bad government by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which ran down the oil refineries and had the “treasury in their pockets,” he said the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration would fulfill its three-pronged campaign manifesto of providing security, turning around the economy with a major focus on youth employment and fighting corruption.