$5bn stolen from Nigeria frozen in foreign countries – TI

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Transparency International (TI) says an estimated $5 billion stolen from Nigeria is frozen in accounts in foreign countries.

This was disclosed on Monday in Abuja during a media workshop organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), local chapter of TI in Nigeria.

Vaclav Prusa, CISLAC policy advisor, said Nigeria is responsible for the highest illicit financial flow in Africa, adding that the estimated amount lost annually in Nigeria is between $18 to $25 billion.

Prusa added that should the $5 billion be returned to Nigeria, it will cover 20 percent of the country’s 2021 budget for three months.

“In the case of Nigeria, it is estimated that $5 billion stolen assets are frozen. What does this mean? It means this is money sitting somewhere in Switzerland or somewhere waiting for reparation,” Prusa said.

“It means even though some money have been repatriated from New Jersey, Switzerland back to Nigeria, there is a lot of money still out there. I think it’s important to rely on the media to push for these assets.”

Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, executive director of CISLAC, said lack of transparency with regards to recovered funds in the country creates room for re-looting and mismanagement.

“Currently, various institutions like the EFCC, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Code of Conduct Bureau, Nigeria Customs Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Nigeria police, and other agencies recover assets without synergy,” Rafsanjani said.

“This lack of transparency in respect of recovered assets in Nigeria creates room for re-looting and mismanagement. The much-awaited Proceeds of Crime management Bill has not yet been signed into law, supposedly because of the power struggle within agencies about economically and politically lucrative mandate to confiscate and manage stolen assets.

“CISLAC plans to work with the media to uncover national and international cases of stolen corrupt assets with links to politically exposed persons. These assets need to be recovered, better utilised for a post COVID-19 economic recovery.”

On March 9, the United Kingdom had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the federal government to return £4.2 million loot recovered from James Ibori, former governor of Delta, and his associates.

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