President Muhammadu Buhari has accused some past ministers and top government officials that served during ex-president Goodluck Jonathan’s led administration of illegal sale and diversion of crude oil proceeds to multiple private accounts abroad.
He made this disclosure while answering questions during an interactive session with Nigerians in the Diaspora at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC, United States of America, which was part of activities that marked his four-day official visit to the country.
President Buhari confirmed he had started receiving some documents, which showed that the former ministers were involved in massive fraud, including oil theft.
“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,” the President said.
He said the government officials also opened as many as five bank accounts abroad for the purpose of laundering the money they made from their thievery.
The President said,
“We are now looking for evidences of shipping some of our crude, their destinations and where and which accounts they were paid and in which country.
“When we get as much as we can get as soon as possible, we will approach those countries to freeze those accounts and go to court, prosecute those people and let the accounts be taken to Nigeria.
“The amount of money is mind-boggling but we have started getting documents. We have started getting documents where some of the senior people in government, former ministers, some of them operated as much as five accounts and were moving about one million barrels per day on their own. We have started getting those documents.
“I assure you that whichever documents we are able to get and subsequently trace the sale of the crude or transfer of money from ministries, departments, Central Bank, we will ask for the cooperation of those countries to return those monies to the Federation Accounts.
“And we will use those documents to arrest those people and prosecute them. This, I promise Nigerians.”
Speaking on the removal of subsidy, The President said that the removal would bring more hardship on Nigerians. He however said he would take a decision based on his experience.
“Who is subsiding who? But people are gleefully talking ‘remove subsidy.’ They want petrol to cost N500 per litre?
“If you are working and subsidy is removed, you can’t control transport, you can’t control market women, the cost of food and the cost of transport.
“If you are earning N20, 000 per day and you are living in Lagos or Ibadan, the cost of transport to work and back, the cost of food. You cannot control the market women because they have to pay what transporters charge them.
“If there is a need for removing subsidy, I will study it. With my experience, I will see what I can do. But I am thinking more than half of Nigerians cannot afford to live without subsidy.
“Where will they get the money to go to work? How will they feed their families? How will they pay rent? If Nigeria were not an oil producing country, all well and good.
“Our refineries are not working. We have a lot of work to do.” The president said.
He also said that many Nigerians had nicknamed him “Baba Go Slow” because of the delay in forming his cabinet, he would prefer to be “slow and steady” in taking decisions.
He said, “Within the past two weeks, I am being asked when I am going to form my cabinet. And in some quarters they are now calling me ‘Baba Go Slow.’
“I am going to go slow and steady. Nigerians should be patient to allow this administration put some sense into governance and deal with corruption.”