The Buhari administration has reached out to the U.S. government to step up its assistance in ensuring that corrupt officials don’t get a safe haven abroad for their loot, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said.
Mr. Osinbajo, who made the call on Monday during the visit of a U.S. Congressional Delegation to the Presidential Villa, said both countries were working on a prompt repatriation of the funds.
“We have reached out to the U.S. government with respect with helping with repatriation of proceeds of crime and proceeds of corruption,” he said.
The vice president, who was appreciative of the support given by the U.S. so far, said the Buhari administration regarded “corruption is an existential threat’’ that must be dealt with at its root.
“We have worked quite closely with the U.S. government on repatriation of funds, we have seen some results,” he said, adding that the federal government is hoping for more improvement in the process.
“We think that this is very important because what tends to happen with corrupt public officials is that if they are able to find a safe haven for the proceeds of their criminality, not only are they encouraged as individuals but there is the general feeling that if I am able to get the proceeds out of the country I might just get away with it,’’ the vice president said.
According to him, “this is one of the reasons why we have taken several actions to ensure that we are able to deal with it because some of the major dislocations in the economy are on account of the problems that we have seen with corruption.’’
He said the Buhari presidency’s strategy, which is one of “the most effective ways of fighting corruption is ensuring that these proceeds are unsafe and for people to know that they would be found out and they would be punished for it and we would seize whatever profit they had gain.”
Mr. Osinbajo also spoke on the need to rescue the remaining Chibok girls still in the custody of the Boko Haram. The over 100 girls are part of the more than 200 kidnapped by the terror group in 2014 from their secondary school in Chibok, Borno State.
The vice president indicated the government’s intention to continue to negotiate for the release of the girls, like it did for the release of others freed by the terror group.
The release of the Chibok girls “is a front burner issue for us all the time, there is no question of not continuing to negotiate and looking for the girls,” he said.
He expressed gratitude to God for the hope that the girls are still alive and would be released, noting that “negotiations were continuing and government would keep looking for the opportunity to bring them back.”
Mr. Osinbajo thanked the U.S. government for its recent decision to sell Super Tucano aircrafts to Nigeria to aid its fight against insurgency in the North-east.
A U.S. Senator, Christopher Coons, who led the delegation said the visit was to reaffirm the relationship between Nigeria and the United States, noting that the U.S. has “an enduring enthusiasm and partnership with Nigeria.’’
Other members of the Congressional delegation include, Senator Gary Peters, Senator Jeff Merkley, Senator Michael Bennet, Representative Lisa Rochester, Representative Terri Sewell, Representative Charlie Dent, Representative Barbara Lee and Representative Frederica Wilson. They were accompanied by the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington.
Also in attendance were the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffery Onyeama, Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babgana Monguno, and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.