Pandora papers: Investigate persons involved, CISLAC, TI task Buhari

The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)/Transparency International Nigeria has urged President Buhari and the entire Nigerian government to take steps in investigating every person implicated in the Pandora papers.

Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani while briefing newsmen  on “The urgent need to investigate Pandora papers revelations” in Abuja on Monday said Pandora papers is one of the biggest ever corruption leaks led by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and over 600 journalists from 117 countries, including Journalists from Nigeria’s Premium Times.  

He said since its release on October 3, 2021, Nigerians have read in awe details of financial transactions and practices of politicians and influential individuals that exploit and, in some cases, violate and undermine extant financial guidelines and policies and threaten our corporate existence and collective wellbeing. 

He said the Pandora Papers confirm therefore the continuing weaknesses in the Nigerian financial systems and regulatory deficiencies that have been at the root of the annual loss of $18billion to illicit financial flows out of Nigeria, according to the latest estimate.

He said the Pandora papers release is coming when Nigeria is reeling under the deleterious impact of the COVID-19 and the debt pileup that has continued to stoke serious concerns across political divides and among Nigerians and its development partners. 

“Therefore, it is a meaningful opportunity for the Buhari administration to act decisively against corruption, aggressive tax planning, and other financial practices of politically exposed persons and their advisors and companies that threaten our country’s economic stability and corporate existence. 

“The coalition of CISLAC, Transparency International in Nigeria, and the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism urgently calls on President Buhari, the Honorable of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, and all anti-corruption agencies to immediately commence actions to investigate all the people and companies indicted in the stories and revelations of dirty financial deals so far published by the Premium Times Center for Investigative Journalism. 

“We encourage the Federal government to strengthen the Code of Conduct Bureau by digitizing the assets declaration processes, documentation and verification, and the prosecution of violators. 

“As of now, the asset declaration administration in Nigeria is dysfunctional and a major enabler for corruption. The federal government must equally work with the National Assembly to remove all the obstacles to public access to asset declarations of every eligible public officers.

“The Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 provides for the setting up of a Beneficial Ownership (BO) register. We call on the government to fully implement this so that beneficial owners of companies in Nigeria can be identified.

“ This will prevent the diversion of public funds through procurement corruption in the first place. The Nigerian government must “live the talk” by ensuring the beneficial ownership data is publicly accessible and must show leadership by acting on them. So far, the lack of action on financial data leaks proves the opposite.

“On its part, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)needs to ensure that financial institutions fully carry out Know Your Customer (KYC), Customer Due Diligence (CDD) as well as Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) as required by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Inter-Governmental Action Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), and other international financial compliance guidelines. 

“Effective compliance with these guidelines and measures will curb the current abuse and indiscretion among politically exposed persons and their collaborators,” he said .