Nigeria: Government to recover money from defaulting contractors

The Chairman, Presidential investigative panel on asset recovery, Mr. Okoi Obono Obla

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The Nigerian government has vowed to recover money from contractors who refuse to execute contracts awarded to them.

The Chairman, Presidential investigative panel on asset recovery, Mr. Okoi Obono Obla who disclosed this in an interview with Voice of Nigeria, added that contractors who fail to execute projects within the time frame are guilty of fraud.

“Our terms of reference also extends to recovery of government properties, assets: assets could be building, cash or intangible, so we will go after those contractors and get back our money, because if you are doing a road contract for the past fourteen years or ten years you have not executed that contract that means you do not have the capacity to execute that contract or you are not willing to even if you have the capacity and that amount to 419, obtaining by force presence and it also amounts to corrupt enrichment” he said

He stressed that the recovery of public property Act of 1983 empowers the panel to prosecute public and private individuals who engage in corrupt practices.

Mr. Obla, added that the law which set up the panel is all encompassing and when enforced would put Nigeria at par with other developed countries of the world in fighting corruption and discouraging accumulation of ill-gotten wealth.

“ This law is all embracing, this law is comprehensive, this law is all encompassing, if you look at this law you would know that if this law had been used today Nigeria would have been as rich as Malaysia or even China” he said

“For the first time those in the private sectors we will beam our search light on those in the private sector so nobody should think that corruption is only perpetrated by public servants” he added

The Chairman of the panel, Mr. Obono Obla who doubles as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on prosecution says the panel will bridge the gap created by related agencies of government in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

He said Nigerian government is not in any way duplicating institutions for the fight against corruption as a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Corruption which encourages member nations to make provisions for the unique tool in the fight against corruption.

“Under the United Nations Convention against Corruption, it encourages governments to set up parallel structures, we will fill the gap maybe the EFCC or ICPC has not done so we fill the gap, I don’t think there is going to be duplication at the end of the day if even there is going to be duplication it doesn’t really matter the most important thing is doing the job and having result” he stressed.

Mr, Oblo explained that President Buhari’s administration is not engaging in media trials, those involved in corrupt practices are only accusing the government of witch hunting to distract the fight against the menace.

“The media have the right to know what we are doing as a government institution and we will inform them. If we arrest or recover assets from public servant we will inform them. I don’t think that amount to a media trial. The agents and promoters of corruption they throw in so many things to distract this fight against corruption. The right to information is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Nigerian constitution and a lot of international convention,” he explained.

The Chairman of the panel, stressed that the fight against corruption needs reassessment and the President Buhari led administration is taking all measures to achieve success in the fight against the menace of corruption.

He also pledged to help clean the stable by carrying out its duties with integrity in accordance with the law, help recover money for the government to build infrastructure and alleviate poverty.

– Elizabeth Christopher, Abuja I VON