President Muhammadu Buhari has said that some former government officials have started voluntarily returning to the Federal Government’s coffers, part of the public funds they acquired illegally.
President Buhari gave this indication during a question-and-answer session he had with members of the Nigerian community at the Nigerian House on Tuesday in Tehran, Iran.
He, however, said that government was not satisfied with the partial return of the “looted funds” and that his administration has intensified efforts at recovering all public funds now in the private pockets of former government officials and their fronts.
“On corruption, yes, they are still innocent. But, we are collecting documents and some of them have started voluntarily returning something. But we want all.
“When we get those documents then we will formally charge them to court and then we will tell Nigerians to know those, who abused trust when they were entrusted with public funds or when they took it by force for 16 years. So, the day of reckoning is gradually approaching.”
President Buhari explained that those accused of corruption would have been prosecuted by now but for the need to thoroughly investigate them with a view to gathering enough evidence for their eventual trial.
He said that it was easy for him, during his tenure as a military Head of State in 1985, to arrest and put alleged corrupt individuals “in protective custody” for them to prove their innocence.
He, however, said that at the moment, the dictates of the Rule of Law and due process had slowed him down in the prosecution of corruption cases.
The President attributed the epileptic power supply in the country to “power saboteurs who go and blow up installations.”
“I believe if you are in touch back at home you would have been told that already there is some improvement in power.
“We haven’t said anything to them yet. I think they only find it sensible or appropriate for them to try and improve power supply.
“I’m sure you know about the privatisation of the power sector, your old friends NEPA or Power Holding Company of Nigeria have been sold to a number of interest groups.
“But, the fundamental thing about us is that we remain potentially in everything except performance.
“We have a lot of gas, we have a lot of qualified people but again we have a lot of saboteurs who go and blow installations.
“Those, who normally steal Nigerian crude (oil) and those, who blow up installations, whether they called themselves militants or whatever, they are still there.”
He, therefore, pledged to deal with such saboteurs to restore sanity in the power sector and improve service delivery to Nigerians.
According to him, most parts of Nigeria have since begun to witness improved power supply without any direct policy directive on the power sector by his administration.
On security, Buhari reassured Nigerians of government’s resolve to eliminate the Boko Haram insurgency and restore peace in the North Eastern states of the country.
The President also restated government’s determination to address the rot in the country’s educational system, beginning from the primary school level to the tertiary level.
He commended the Nigerian community in Iran for its good conduct, saying that government will continue to encourage more Nigerians to study in that country because of the level of discipline and orderliness there.
In his remarks, the Nigerian Charge de Affairs in Iran, Dr Ali Magashi, attested to the zero crime rate among Nigerians living in Iran.
He, however, said that a few Nigerians based in Afghanistan had been arrested by the Iranian authorities for alleged drug trafficking.