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35 Govs, 5 Buhari Staff, 16 Lawmakers, 15 Ministers, 14 Security Leaders, Others Traced To 800 Dubai Properties Worth $400Million

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… As Nigerian Politicians Spends £30Million Annually On UK Education

By Matthew Ogune, Abuja

Over 800 properties worth 400million dollars in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been traced to Nigerian Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs).

This was disclosed yesterday in Abuja by Matthew Page an associate fellow, Chatham House while delivering a paper titled Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in Real Estate and Education Sector: Implications for Investigators at a 2-Day Capacity Building for Investigators on Investigating IFFs organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

Disclosing that 35 state governor’s have acquired a total of 69 properties, Page noted that five Presidency staff members were controlling 13 properties, while 16 lawmakers are in possession of 45 properties.

According to the findings, 15 Ministers have 25 properties, 158 suspected PEP proxy are in control of 226 properties, 14 security sector leaders 71, 50 PEP- linked business persons 91, 13 Known Nigerian law enforcement agency suspects 216, 16 head of department and agency 25, 11 NNPC officials 19, Judge 1.

Page who blamed lack of transparency, huge financial flows and inadequate international safeguard for the development further disclosed that Nigerian politicians are spending over $30million annually on UK education, which he said was beyond their annual earnings.

He urged investigators to compare thess payments to their known assets and incomes, examine third party payments, request forex data, review media for PEP schooling and probe MDAs that provides scholarships.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, ICPC chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye stated that the capacity building programme would help investigators to track illicit financial flows, money laundering and other areas the government is losing revenue and recover such funds.

“The loss of revenue is a major challenge to developing countries, particularly Nigeria. The meeting is therefore designed to build the capacity of our investigators to enable them trace the areas in which the government is losing money, look for the likely places people hide money, stop the illicit financial flows, and recover the funds.

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“We are already working with the FIRS and getting a lot of tax evaders and defaulters into the nation’s tax net. One of the takeaways from here is the kind of question an investigator needs to ask in tracking IFFs and money laundering,” Owasanoye explained.

He stressed the need to widen the revenue base, improve tax collection, combat tax evasion and illicit financial flows as well as asset recovery to improve the country’s finances.

The Chairman of Inter-Agency Committee on Stopping IFFs from Nigeria, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu, assured that the committee was working assiduously to curb the menace from the country.

“We know the challenge and negative impact of IFFs in Nigeria and Africa. The Federal Government established the committee towards promoting financial transparency and accountability and in line with the recommendations of the findings of a high level Africa Union Panel on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) led by the former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, include coordinating and tracking progress in stemming illicit financial flows from Nigeria.

“The Committee is establishing cooperation amongst relevant agencies in order to substantially reduce and eventually eliminate illicit financial flows from Nigeria, make recommendations to the Federal Government on required improvements in legislation, rules and processes for the purposes of tackling illicit financial flows from Nigeria amongst others.”

He advised African countries to build the capacity of their investigators in tracking illicit financial flows in order to curb annual loss of revenue.

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