More than half of the stolen funds from Nigeria are linked to the country’s top security officials, a leading anti-corruption group, Human and Environmental Development Agency, has said.
According to HEDA, the illicit financial flow has been calculated to be worth more than $400 million and are largely reserved in the United Arab Emirate (UAE) and United Kingdom (UK).
Recently, HEDA hosted an international conference in Abuja to examine the UK and UAE’s policies, laws and practices in financial and non-financial institutions, especially how they affect the economy of Africa’s largest nation.
A communique signed by HEDA Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, at the end of the conference stated that “of the 800 Nigerian stolen illicit assets lodged in UAE, 13 law enforcement officials own 216 of them while 584 of the remaining assets are owned by Nigerian public officials”.
Experts present at the conference also submitted that some of the illicit financial flow estimated to be $17 billion between 2004 and 2013 were stored in the United Kingdom and UAE. Therefore, they called for the collaboration of the government and civil society in order to recover the stolen funds abroad.
“An estimated 17 billion dollars is lost every year to financial flows, which hurts the vulnerable poor, fuels violence and threatens moral authority of the state,” the experts said.
“Fighting the transfer of stolen funds abroad cannot be handled by the government alone; it has to be a joint effort in collaboration with civil society, labour and all people-driven institutions.”
‘The statement added: “Politically-exposed persons are not just politicians but also their families, while enablers of illicit financial flow include dealers in precious minerals, professionals who enhance and sustain illicit financial flows. Nigeria should progressively review her international obligations like the UN Conventions on Corruption which has five focal points which include International cooperation, technical assistance, asset recovery and the Mutual Legal Assistance.”
Dayo Olaide, the Deputy Country Director of MacArthur Foundation, pointed out that political apathy is capable of weakening the demand for good governance from public officials.
“The number of voters has continued to decline, which raises the prospect of Nigerians becoming strangers in their own country and projecting a gradual decline in public trust in the process that produces elected leaders,” he said.
In response to the concerns raised, Prof Sadiq Raddah, the Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption (PACAC), said the Nigerian authorities are concerned about illicit financial flow, adding that PACAC has recently set up a committee with the responsibility, among others, to help anti-corruption institutions recover stolen assets.
In attendance were representatives of MacArthur Foundation, United Nations Office of Drug and Crime, (UNODC) Centre for Democracy and Development, (CDD) members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offenses Commission, (ICPC), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, (NFIU) and Code of Conduct Bureau, (CCB), Corporate Affairs Commission, (CAC), the Nigerian Police Force, (NPF), Civil Society organisations and the media.
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