… As Nigeria Advocates Simplification of Procedures for Assets Recovery and Return
Matthew Ogune, Abuja
From the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Abdulrasheed Bawa came a revelation that the introduction of measures to mitigate revenue leakage such as the whistleblower policy has led to the recovery of $43million.
EFCC Spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren quoted his Chairman to have disclosed this while presenting Nigeria’s statement at the ongoing United Nations General Assembly Special Session on corruption in New York, United States of America.
His words: “Aside making the fight against corruption a key policy of the administration, the government developed a National Anti- Corruption Strategy as a framework for preventive and law enforcement engagement and introduced measures to mitigate revenue leakage, including a whistleblower policy which led to the recovery of $43million.”
Bawa called for the simplification of evidentiary requirements and other mutual legal assistance procedures to enhance international cooperation and facilitate timely recovery and return of stolen assets.
He said “Measures must be introduced to mitigate the continuous flow of illicit funds from least developed to developed countries”, that “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 Centres”.
Addressing a Special Session , Bawa said Nigeria acknowledges the very beneficial use of “settlements” or “non-trial resolutions” to ensure the disgorgement of illicit gains from corrupt acts.
He called on Jurisdictions negotiating settlements to, “inform affected jurisdictions that a negotiation toward a settlement is taking place, and proactively share information on concluded settlements”.
The EFCC chair underlined the threats which corruption poses to the world.
“Corruption across national borders has huge negative impacts on the stability, peace, and economic prospects of millions, particularly in developing countries.
“Corruption remains one of the most pervasive and daunting challenges facing humanity. It deprives national Governments of resources needed for sustainable development and facilitates illicit financial flows (IFFs) from developing economies to developed Countries thus, weakening states’ ability to deliver developmental expectations targeted at women and youths.
“Nigeria, like many other countries, has suffered from the damaging effects of corruption. The Country has lost billions of dollars to foreign tax havens, stolen and expatriated by corrupt leaders and their foreign accomplices including multinational companies”.
He, however, noted that Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari had been upfront in its commitment to fighting corruption.
“Public corruption is being exposed by the day and several Politically Exposed Persons have been and are being prosecuted and divested of their illicit assets.
“We have been engaging with International Law Enforcement Agencies around the world and some of the collaboration has led to the recovery and repatriation of stolen funds including the recentreturn of the 4.2million Pounds by the UK Government that was stolen from Nigeria by a former Governor.
“Procurement processes have been strengthened and activities of the Gate Keepers are being monitored through the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering to serve as deterrence to the stealing of public funds.
“Policies have been introduced to mitigate revenue leakages including the development of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS).
“The NACS is developed with 5 identified cardinal pillars on prevention, public engagement, ethical re-orientation, enforcement and sanctions and recovery and management of stolen assets/proceeds of crime.
“The strategy is aimed at providing a national road map in the fight against corruption,” he said.
He also highlighted Nigeria’s efforts in strengthening the legislative framework for anti-corruption in the country, including the launch of the 2021 Legislative Anti-Corruption Agenda (LACS 2021) which seeks to provide a clear road map for a reform based legislative intervention to prevent and combat corruption and financial crimes in Nigeria.
He went on: “Some of the bills before the Parliament include the Witness Protection Bill, Proceeds of Crime (POCA), Bill and Public Interest Disclosure and Complaints Commission Bill,” he added.
He noted that Nigeria looks forward to the “full implementation of all the commitments expressed in the Political Declaration, particularly on Asset Recovery and return, to support development financing as well as the implementation of the agenda 2030 for sustainable development.”
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