$90bn Illicit financial flows via Nigeria

The recent revelation by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to the effect that the bulk of an estimated USD90 billion leaving Africa through illicit financial flow annually comes from Nigeria is mind boggling. This unfortunate scenario is, no doubt, a drawback to the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s war against corruption, which has recorded huge successes since 2015 when the government came into being.   

The Chairman of ICPC, Bolaji Owansanoye, made the disclosure in Makurdi during the commemoration of “The African Union Anti-Corruption Day,” themed “The opportunity cost of corruption and the value of asset recovery.”

Represented by the Benue ICPC Commissioner, Mr. Adebayo Obaniyi, he said the commission was at the moment tracking all constituency projects from 2015 till date across the country. This is even as the commission alleged that a lawmaker from Benue state diverted constituency projects for personal use. 

He said the commission discovered so many issues in the cost of their tracking of constituency projects in the state. Owasanoye said a Benue federal lawmaker diverted a constituency community borehole project to building his personal house.

The commission, he further stated, also discovered a situation in Benue South Senatorial District where a constituency road project was completed on paper but not executed. Owansanoye said negative impact of corruption on the continent’s economic development were very obvious. 
“It is even sad that the bulk of an estimated USD90 billion that leaves Africa through illicit financial flow annually might have come from Nigeria. The continent as a whole, certainly receives less than that amount in development assistance from countries of Europe and America yearly.
“Since proceeds of crime end in assets, stashed mostly abroad, it is good that Nigeria adopts the strategy of asset recovery and return to the source as one of the cardinal points of her national anti-corruption strategy.”

The ICPC boss further said the commission would also ensure the effective utilisation of budgetary allocations to social welfare and human development.
Earlier, chairman of the occasion and former ICPC Commissioner, Mr. Geoffrey Anumve, said the commission needed to carry out intensive education on endemic corruption. Anumve said Nigeria was regarded by other nationals as the most corrupt country in the world.
“Corruption has eaten deep into our system, right from the roads, motor parks, markets, schools, among others. In our universities today, there is serious corruption actively ongoing, we have the issues of sex and money for marks which are all corruption,” Anumve said

Similarly, Africa loses over $50 billion to illegally acquired assets annually, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has said.

The Ilorin zonal head of the agency, Mr. Ishiaku Sharu, said this in Ilorin recently during a walk to mark the 3rd African Union Anti-Corruption Day rally with the theme: “Towards a common African position on asset recovery”.

Speaking during the rally, Sharu said there was the need to strengthen international cooperation among anti-corruption agencies in Africa for the purpose of developing a common position framework on assets recovery and return.

“The continent is losing over $50 billion yearly due to illegally acquired assets located all over the world and the process of tracing, freezing, management and eventual repatriation of assets is a long process, hence the need for the involvement of relevant instruments through international cooperation to repatriate stolen assets back to Africa,” he said.

He said the aim of the walk was to bring together all relevant anti-corruption stakeholders (domestic and international) to reflect on the challenges of assets recovery in Africa and solicit contributions and support towards developing a framework for an Africa’s common position on asset recovery, as well as to create awareness and engage the citizens in asset recovery efforts. 

Sharu also said the aim of President Buhari’s administration in the fight against corruption in Nigeria had brought significant recovery of looted assets acquired through mismanagement of public finds.

Also in his remarks, Kwara state Director of National Orientation Agency, Segun Adeyemi, said the presence of EFCC in the state was making impact with securing of conviction of some internet fraudsters. He therefore called on the society to guide against corruption. 

The walk which commenced from EFCC office took participants through the Ahmadu Bello way, Challenge, Post Office, Offa Road, Tanke Junction and ended at the EFCC office. 

Shaku therefore appealed to all the stakeholders “to join hands with the commission to ensure recovery of our common patrimony carted away by the looters, most importantly with the recent whistle blowing policy of the federal government.” 

While we commend the efforts of the anti-graft agencies for tracking illicit funds, particularly the controversial constituency funds collected by legislators at both the federal and state levels, it is expedient to advise against witch-hunt or malicious whistleblowers who may want to take a pound of flesh from their political opponents.

 We also call for close collaboration with anti-corruption agencies in other countries in order to effectively check illicit financial flows from Nigeria, which has been having tinting the country’s image among the comity of nations.

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