The Nigerian government has appealed to the international community for better cooperation in the fight against corruption, and timely return of illicit assets to the affected nations.
This was part of the major highlights of Nigeria’s statement delivered by Abdulrasheed Bawa, the chair of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), at the 32nd Special Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) in New York, United States, on Thursday.
Nigeria is a member of the UN General Assembly along with 192 other nations.
The UN General Assembly meeting with the theme, ‘Challenges and measures to prevent and combat corruption and strengthen international cooperation’ held between June 2 and 4.
Mr Bawa spoke at a session of the meeting on Thursday. His statement was made available to journalists by the EFCC’s press and media unit on Friday.
Return of stolen assets, illicit financial flows
A nation among those that have lost most funds through illicit outflow in the world, Nigeria demanded the timely return of illicit assets to countries from which they were stolen.
It also appealed for measures “to mitigate the continuous flow of illicit funds from least developed to developed countries”.
It urged governments around the world to ensure implementation of effective anti-money laundering measures by International Financial Centres.
It also called on nations to commit to transparency and accountability in public expenditure.
“Now more than ever, governments at all levels must rise to their responsibility and continue to commit to transparency and accountability in public expenditure. Measures must be introduced to mitigate the continuous flow of illicit funds from least developed to developed countries,” Mr Bawa told the body on Thursday (June 3).
He added, “State Parties must continue to commit to the timely return of illicit assets and ensure implementation of effective anti-money laundering measures by International Financial Centers.
“Nigeria further highlights the very beneficial use of ‘settlements’ or ‘non-trial resolutions’ to ensure the disgorgement of illicit gains from corrupt acts. It calls on jurisdictions negotiating settlements to, in a timely manner, inform affected jurisdictions that a negotiation toward a settlement is taking place, and proactively share information on concluded settlements.”
Mutual legal assistance, cooperation
He called for simplification of “evidentiary requirements” and other mutual legal assistance procedures to achieve “timely recovery and return of assets”.
“Nigeria further calls for the simplification of evidentiary requirements and other mutual legal assistance procedures to seize, confiscate and repatriate proceeds of corruption, as appropriate, to enhance international cooperation for timely recovery and return of assets,” Mr Bawa said.
He also called on nations to “fully cooperate” on previous resolutions on settlements of the UNGASS Political Declaration.
He asked for “a multifaceted approach” in addressing illicit financial flows as recommended by the High Level Panel Report on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda (FACTI Panel).
Mr Bawa noted that the report provides paths to financial integrity for sustainable development, strongly showing how to redirect the resources lost from illicit flows to finance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the SDGs.
Mind-boggling illicit outflows
Nigeria is a victim of mind-boggling illicit outflows of assets.
Its former kleptomaniac Head of State, the late Sani Abacha, and his family members are believed to have stolen as much as $5 billion from the government’s treasury during his five years in office.
More than 20 years after his death, Nigeria is still battling to repatriate the stolen funds stashed in foreign bank accounts around the world. So far, illicit funds linked to the family has been recovered from Ireland, the United States, Switzerland, the Rhodes of Island and New Jersey.
According to a 2020 study by Brookings, a U.S. based nonprofit research organisation, between 1980 and 2018, sub-Saharan Africa exported over $1 trillion of illicit financial flows, with the top four emitters of illicit flows are: South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Nigeria— which emits over 50 per cent of the 38 years of total illicit financial flows.
The nation accounts for 20 per cent (about $10 billion) of the estimated $50 billion that Africa was losing to Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), according to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in March this year.
It has pervasive public corruption which continues to negatively impact its yearly ranking by the Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index.
Nigeria dropped in the latest CPI ranking released by TI in January.
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