What Nigeria must do to stop looting of public funds – Global Forum

Bag of money
Bag containing money used to illustrate the story.

Nigeria has been advised to make laws that makes it difficult for public fund to be looted and siphoned abroad.

The call was made by participants at the inaugural Global Forum on Asset Recovery, GFAR, in Washington DC earlier in December. The forum, organised with support from the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), a joint initiative of the World Bank and UN Office of Drugs and Crime, focused on the recovery of assets stolen from Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Ukraine.

Participants at the forum are of the view that in order to counter illicit financial flow, Nigeria, as well as other African countries faced with looting of public fund by government officials and politicians should create public registers of beneficial ownership of companies to dissuade looters from using anonymous shell companies to transfer and hide illicit wealth.

The countries were advised to, as a matter of urgency, set up public registers of beneficial ownership information so that anonymous shell companies cannot be easily used to transfer and hide illicit wealth.

Similarly, countries such as the United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland, which are some of the preferred location where stolen wealth are hidden, were advised to take steps to enhance the transparency of financial flow and ownership of properties in their jurisdictions.

Several billions of dollars have been stolen from Nigeria by corrupt politicians and other officials since the country’s independence in 1960. Switzerland alone has returned over $723 million to the country in 10 years.

At the end of the forum, the Nigeria government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Switzerland and the World Bank to return an additional $321 million of recovered assets.

Other decisions reached by the forum include the recognition of the multi-stakeholder nature of asset recovery and the promotion dialogue, trust and collaboration between civil society, media, law enforcement and other government bodies.

The focus countries should also commit to strengthening efforts to prevent corruption before it starts. In the regard, countries were advised to implement “codes of conduct, ethics training, whistle-blower protections, and integrity in public institutions, and urge other countries to do so.”

The forum, however, admitted that the absence of data on asset recovery was an impediment to recovering stolen funds. Participating countries were therefore asked to commit to providing public, comprehensive data including the number of cases they have, the number of assets frozen, sanctions taken against financial facilitators, and the length of time taken to respond to requests for assistance.


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  • princegab

    In as much as I appreciate the efforts of GFAR, it is laughable the amounts returned in ten years, no one is talking about impunity and the fact that we don’t need additional laws. It is funny to ask Saraki’s NASS or the presidency to make laws against themselves. Our situation is sympathetic, bad leadership. We need someone to save us from ourselves.

    • Annabelle

      Nigeria needs a Jerry Rawlings of Ghana!

  • Mentus

    You are asking the very people who fought to get into the polical system in order to exploit it to change it to their disadvantage. It will never happen, not in Nigeria. Thanks however.

  • thusspokez

    Nigeria has been advised to make laws that makes it difficult for public fund to be looted and siphoned abroad.

    This advocates of more anti-corruption laws might well be lawyers because only lawyers and legislators are naive enough or arrogant to believe that introducing new law is the solution to all problems. And if the law doesn’t work, they would advocate for yet more laws and again and again.

    Besides, GFAR doesn’t seem to realise that tribalism stands in the way of the fight against corruption in Nigeria. Most, if not all, Nigerians would complain about corruption until their tribesperson is arrested by the Nigerian law enforcement agencies for corruption, at which point the complain would change to ‘whatabout’, discrimination, and marginalisation.

  • Bassey Frank

    What an empty exercise. When you have a leader who looks the other way when looting is going on under his watch, what has law got to do in this case? Was there no law when Babachir Lawal looted IDP funds? What happened to him? Where is he? Was there no law when Abdulrasheed Maina was recalled home, re-instated in civil service and promoted under the watch of a man whose second name is Corruption Fire Fighter?

  • Annabelle

    Nigeria’s corruption is a terminal cancer, slowly eating and wasting away it’s body, waiting for the ultimate death!

  • Curtx Maccido

    Agree with MOU with US, UK and Switzerland to repatriate looted fund, monitor use of ‘shell’ companies and ensure spending and bank transactions of public officers (including legislatures and judicial officers), then share database of information regarding these managers of public funds. Nigeria need to add building of more prisons to put away these crooks as many of them will still steal no matter the amount of contols and monitoring!

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    The Federal Government, minister of information Lai Mohammed, supposed to embark on a national re-orientation programs which should be publicized and broadcast by NTA and Nigerian-newspapers in our national media outlets continuously for a long period in order to eliminate endemic corruption crimes in Nigeria.