President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed the resolve of his administration to win the fight against corruption, stressing that there was no alternative to it as it remained critical and essential to ensuring the development of critical sectors in the country, and ensuring the drastic reduction of poverty in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole. “As Africans, we have no choice but to break the back of corruption,” he said.
Buhari, who is the African Union, AU, Anti-Corruption Champion, made the assertion at the High-Level Side-Event organized by the African Union Development Agency and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, AUDA-NEPAD, in collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which held on September 25, 2019 in New York, United States, on the margins of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, UNGA 74.
Speaking on the theme, “Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flow and strengthen good practices on assets recovery and return to foster sustainable development”, Buhari expressed great concerns that such massive and illegal loss of assets, resulted in dearth of natural resources, which are enormous in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole.
“That is why our government has made it a war we intend to win, and we will give all it takes to ensure that there is no hiding place for purveyors of corrupt practices who are truly enemies of the people,” he said.
Citing the Tax Justice Network and the International Monetary Fund, he revealed that an estimated $200 billion was being lost yearly by developing countries, due to multinational enterprises not paying taxes in the countries where they made the profit from.
“These flows deplete Africa’s internally generated revenues, foreign exchange earnings, reduce tax revenues, drain natural resources, facilitate corruption and stunt private sector development,” he said, and called for effective international cooperation between African countries and the international community to ensure that illicit financial flows out of the continent was stemmed.
According to Ibrahim Magu, acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the illicit flow of funds, remained a major threat to global peace, requiring urgent measures to nip it in the bud.
“The developing countries of the world are the most hit by its implications as funds that could be used for development are illegally ferried offshore,” he said.
Quoting from a recent report of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, and Trust Africa, he revealed that Nigeria loses between $15 billion and $18 billion annually to illicit financial flows.
He noted that traditional sources of IFFs have now emerged including illegal mining, kidnapping, terrorism, militancy, smuggling, crude oil theft, cybercrime and other forms of organized crimes, with the attendant effects of non achievement of sustainable development goals in the country.
Making reference to the recent judgement in favour of the Process and Industrial Development Limited, P&ID, he said, “The recent one is the international conspiracy to defraud Nigeria of over $9.6billion, which is about one-third of our budget by people who are completely fraudulent”.
According to him, investigations by the EFCC revealed, “There is no legality whatsoever, and we [the Nigerian government] should not even negotiate with them.”
He used the opportunity to call for “unconditional repatriation” of Africa’s stolen wealth and urged all law enforcement agencies around the world to collaborate and have an understanding to ensure that illicit financial flows are stopped.
The High-Level event, also had in attendance President Sahle-Work Zewede of Ethiopia; President Edgar Lungu of Zambia; President of the UNGA, Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande; Vice President of the African Union, Quartey Kwesi; Princess Gloria Akobundu, Chief Executive Officer, AUDA-NEPAD Nigeria; along with dignitaries from the European Union, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Namibia, Norway, South Africa, and Nigeria.