Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, on Saturday expressed the fears that both the Federal Government and Nigerians would not benefit from the funds recovered from public treasury looters if the monies are not being disbursed to cushion the effects of the current hardship.
Falana was reacting to the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, who said on Friday that the amount of loot so far recovered by the government was not enough to revive the economy, which is currently in a recession.
The minister, who spoke at the News Agency of Nigeria Forum in Abuja, said the N78bn and $3m (N945m) so far recovered were not even sufficient to pay half of the Federal Government workers’ salaries in a month.
He had said, “What we have recovered and if my record is right, is about N78bn and $3m. We’ve blocked other accounts with about $9bn, but the money is not available to us because we are still in court.
“The government spends N165bn monthly on Federal civil servants. So what we have so far recovered cannot even pay 50 per cent of the salaries in a month. What has been recovered is so little compared to what we need on a continuous basis.”
Falana urged the government not to “lock up” the funds.
He said, “The Federal Government of Nigeria has disclosed the amount recovered so far. The information minister said it is not enough to fix the economy. Agreed, but the government should not lock up the fund.
“Let the Federal Government set up a public spirited group like PTF to manage the recovered loot.”
The activist added that nothing should stop the government from spending the loot already recovered.
He said, “It will solve some problems. You can’t just keep it in the bank. For how long are you keeping it?”