The Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said on Monday that around $15 billion was stolen from Nigeria’s public purse, under the past government through fraudulent arms procurement deals.
Nigeria is facing one of its worst economic crisis’ amid an ongoing global oil slump. The fall in crude prices has eroded the country’s foreign reserves, since oil sales make up around 70 percent of its national income, with the central bank adopting a fixed exchange rate to protect further crippling of its reserves, which stood at $27 billion in April.
Osinbajo, who was speaking at a university in the southwestern city of Ibadan, said the $15 billion figure, which he alleged had been stolen "is more than half of the current foreign reserves of the country."
The total amount stolen amid corruption related to the provision of security equipment to the military and amounted to around 15 billion US dollars.
"It is important to send a message that no public officer can steal the resources of this country and expect to escape," he said.
Nigerian authorities probed former military chiefs and companies accused of involvement in an alleged arms procurement fraud during the tenure of Buhari’s predecessor Goodluck Jonathan. However, they have pleaded not guilty.
Despite Nigeria being Africa’s largest oil producer and exporter, decades of endemic corruption has enriched a small elite, but left many citizens mired in poverty.
In January, the information minister Lai Mohammed said that 55 people, who were government ministers, state governors, officials, bankers and businessmen stole 1.34 trillion naira ($6.8 billion) over a seven-year period.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who won last year's election has vowed to crackdown on corruption. He said the theft of "mind boggling" sums of oil money meant state coffers were virtually empty in Africa's biggest economy when he took office last May.