By Our Reporter
The Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN has said most of the illicit funds that leave the shores of African countries are from Nigeria. Osinbajo, who spoke when he declared open the on-going International Conference on Illicit financial flows and Asset Recovery, which started in Abuja on Monday (June 5, 2017) said the development means there is a lot to be done by both our law enforcement agencies as well as Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the country.
The Acting President who said he was happy to declare-open such a very important conference especially given the stance of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to the fight against corruption said the issue of combating corruption must be an all-inclusive approach as Nigeria also need to rally other African countries to realise the effect dirty money has on the development of Africa.
He said, “We must realise that it is our responsibility to trace these monies and make sure the monies are repatriated for the development of Africa. We must make it a national course and convince the rest of Africa and indeed the world to view it in the same light like drug money. We must make the world to feel outraged by these practice, which is hurting the African economy and our collective growth. Africa must insist and fight at every opportunity to end this illicit trend. And my President, General Buhari has kept emphasizing that if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill us. It is when corruption finds a safe havens that it (corruption) would have a strong base to fight back. We know that corruption fights back especially in Nigeria.”
He said it was funny that with all the efforts of the present government to combat corruption, some of the affected financial heavyweights have continued to manipulate a section of the media tagging the genuine fight media trials. Again, Prof. Osinbajo said, “In Nigeria, they call what we are doing it media trials, I don’t know what that means. If you find large sums of money in an air-conditioned room anywhere in the world, it would not make news but here, corruption fights back and say it is media trials that we are doing. It is sad that most of the illicit fund that flow out of Africa comes from Nigeria. That means that we simply have to do more – it means so much money is leaving our shores. That is work for our security agencies and we cannot win this fight by allowing financial institutions to have free run.”
At the event too, Prof. Itse Sagay SAN, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption; Prof. Akere Muna, Chairman International Anti-Corruption Conference Council, Hon. Ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs, Justice Abubakar Malami and Mr. Geoffrey Jideofor Kwusike Onyeama respectively also lamented the need for a collaboration from the foreign countries where the stolen funds are hidden for the repatriation of the funds to be successful. Justice Minister said, “The commitment to prosecute public corrupt officials is intense. We have that the engagement of foreign countries where these assets are hidden would be intensified.”
Onyeama particularly said, “We (Nigeria) need to increase international cooperation. We must tighten sources and destination-countries in line with United Nations recommendation; International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank recommendation. To prevent and counter corruption we need identification, freezing and seizure of illicit assets and that requires collective action. We must eliminate safe-havens for fraudulent illicit financial flows, which is seriously straining Africa and 2030 agenda for sustainable development. We seek to have restitution in funds that have been stashed away in foreign countries. We experience delays in the reparation and we need to give it urgent attention.”