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Nigeria: President Buhari says treasury 'virtually empty'

President Muhammadu Buhari said previous administrations had stolen billions of dollars.

By
Fred Lambert

ABUJA, Nigeria, June 23 (UPI) -- Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said his country's treasury was "virtually empty" because previous administrations had stolen billions of dollars.

"The days of impunity and lack of accountability are over," the BBC quoted Buhari as saying. "The next three months may be hard, but billions of dollars can be recovered, and we will do our best."

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The comment came as Buhari talked to state governors about the inability to pay government workers for months on end.

Nigeria's debt is about $60 billion, according to the country's vice president, though the finance minister reportedly disputed that figure.

The African nation is also embroiled in an Islamic insurgency. Two female suicide bombers killed at least 20 people Monday when they blew up at a crowded fish market in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. Authorities suspect it was the work of Boko Haram, a terrorist group that has since 2009 waged war seeking an Islamic government in Nigeria.

The United States last week pledged $5 million to help fund a multinational coalition -- including forces from Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin -- in its fight against the extremist group.

Buhari requested more international help against Boko Haram when he attended the G7 summit in Germany earlier this month.

The 72-year-old president won in March elections against incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, promising to fight hard against corruption and the Sunni terrorist group. Victories by his All Progressives Congress ended 16 years of rule by Jonathan's Peoples Democratic Party.

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