EFCC Receives Reports on $400m Stolen Funds in UAE

EFCC Receives Reports on $400m Stolen Funds in UAE

…13 Security Officials Linked to 216 Assets While 586 Assets Belong to Public Officials …$17 Billion Illicit Flow From Nigeria to UK & UAE Annually Between 2004 – 2013 Detailed reports of £400 million stolen funds and assets kept in the United Arab Emirate, (UAE) by corrupt Nigerians, which was handed over to the Economic

…13 Security Officials Linked to 216 Assets While 586 Assets Belong to Public Officials

…$17 Billion Illicit Flow From Nigeria to UK & UAE Annually Between 2004 – 2013

Detailed reports of £400 million stolen funds and assets kept in the United Arab Emirate, (UAE) by corrupt Nigerians, which was handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), revealed that 13 security officials are linked to ownership of 216 out of the 800 stolen assets while 584 assets are traced to public officials.

The reports were handed over to the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, in Abuja by Prof Gbenga Oduntan of Kent Law School, University of Kent, United Kingdom, the lead researcher that conducted the investigation into the discovery of the loot.

Bawa said the reports commissioned by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre), several civil society groups and foreign technical partners, will be investigated.

The landmark investigation has stirred national outrage across the country following its public presentation earlier this week. Speaking during the meeting with Bawa on Thursday, the Chairman, HEDA Resource Centre, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, said his group was determined to expose corrupt people wherever they are, adding that fighting noxious funds looted from Nigeria remains one of the focal points of his group.

In his remark, Bawa who personally accepted the reports, praised the efforts of the civil society groups in assisting anti-graft agencies to fight and subdue corruption.

Not An Easy Task

He said the fight against corruption is not an easy task. “It is not what EFCC can fight alone. We need to do a lot to make it not attractive for people to steal. If we want to stop illicit funds, we need to stop the inflow.”

The EFCC Chairman said the Commission will go after those involved in illicit financial flow in line with his commitment to fight corruption, adding that it is part of the EFCC mandate to retrieve the proceeds of crime across national jurisdiction.

Said Bawa, “We have a lot of bilateral and international relations and agreements that bring us together with our partner law enforcement agencies in countries under consideration. It is one of our duties to ensure the prevention of the property being taken at all and to ensure they are not taken out of the country. They cannot take the funds out of the country without collaborators,” positing that states and institutions should ensure a honest and transparent procurement procedure.

He said the EFCC values collaboration with civil society groups set up to promote public good and counselled NGOs not to allow themselves to be used by criminals seeking the primitive accumulation of wealth.

On the request that bankers should declare their assets, Bawa said the decision was in good fate and in line with section 7 which empowers the EFCC to probe people suspected to be living beyond their means.

He further clarified the position of EFCC to the effect that the Commission is not forcing any banker to declare but rather alert the bankers to the effect that from June 1, 2021, the Commission will, in the course of investigations, demand the assets declaration of bankers in accordance with the Bankers Assets Declaration Act through the Secretary to Government of the Federation Office.

At the meeting were top EFCC officials, leaders of civil society organisations from across the country including among others, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, (CSNAC), Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER), Dr Abdulkareem Tukur and Social and Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP)

$400m Stolen Funds

The Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) corroborated by foreign anti-corruption experts had said during an international conference held in Abuja on Tuesday, that more than half of the $400m stolen funds are linked to only thirteen Nigerian top security officials and some public officials.

“Of the 800 Nigerian stolen illicit assets lodged in UAE, 13 law enforcement officials own 216 of them while 584 of the remaining assets are owned by Nigerian public officials,” HEDA said. The event held in Abuja was on Fixing Financial Flows: A Critical Review of UK and UAE Policies, Laws and Practices in Financial and Non Financial Institutions.

Illicit Flows Fuel Terrorism

Dr Gbenga Oduntan of Kent University, United Kingdom said public officials are milking Nigerians to their bone marrow adding that illicit financial flow continues to fuel unrest, violence and terrorism in Nigeria. They said most of the stolen funds are linked to commercial activities.

In a communique issued at the end of the summit, participants said the UAE and United Kingdom, (UK) represent some of the hosts of illicit financial flow from Nigeria estimated at some $17billion every year between 2004 and 2013.

The communiqué states that, “an estimated 17billion dollars is lost every year to financial flows which hurts vulnerable poor, fuels violence and threat to moral authority of the state.” The participants said, “fighting the transfer of stolen funds abroad cannot be handled by the government alone, it has to be a joint effort in collaboration with civil society, labour and all people-driven institutions.”

Speaking at the summit, the Deputy Country Director, MacArthur foundations, Mr. Dayo Olaide, said while see-through election remain a momentous step towards transparency and good governance, it is disturbing that public enthusiasm towards election is fading.

“The number of voters has continued to decline which raises the prospect of Nigerians becoming strangers in their own country and projecting a gradual decline in public trust in the process that produce elected leaders.”

Olaide recalled that the total number of Nigerians that voted in the by election held recently in South Eastern Nigeria is less than 3 percent of the eligible voters who took part in the election while in the last national elections, voting in the gubernatorial race recorded barely 17 percent of registered voters.

Anti-Corruption Institutions

The Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption, (PACAC) Prof Sadiq Raddah, said the Nigerian authority is concerned about illicit financial flow adding that PACAC has recently set up a committee part of which responsibility is to help anti-corruption institutions recover stolen assets.

The communiqué signed by HEDA Chairman, noted that the United Kingdom and UAE are culprits in the illicit financial flow from Nigeria and have been facing attacks for failing to live up to international obligations in curbing illicit financial flow.

“Politically exposed persons are not just politicians but also their families while enablers of illicit financial flow include dealers in precious minerals, professionals who enhance and sustain illicit financial flows. Nigeria should progressively review her international obligations like the UN Conventions on Corruption which has five focal points which included International cooperation, technical assistance, asset recovery and the Mutual Legal Assistance,” participants said in the communiqué.

The conference was attended by representatives of MacArthur Foundation, United Nations Office of Drug and Crime, (UNODC) Centre for Democracy and Development, (CDD) members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offenses Commission, (ICPC),

Others are the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, (NFIU) and Code of Conduct Bureau, (CCB), Corporate Affairs Commission, (CAC), the Nigerian Police Force, (NPF), Civil Society organisations and the media. The local and international panelists came from the UK, Botswana and Nigeria including Pusetso Moradepi, Kemi Okenyodo and Nick Hildyard.

TI Rating

Latest report by leading global anti corruption body, Transparency International, says Nigeria dropped three places and scored lower in number of points than it did in 2020 which indicates that corruption is perceived to have worsened in the country within the last one year.

The latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI) says Nigeria scored 25/100 which is by one point less than its 26 points in the previous year, adding that the country is now 149 out of 180 countries, a record that is three steps lower than its rank of 146 in 2019.

The Federal Government has however dismissed the Transparency International (TI) on Corruption Perceptions Index in Nigeria.

A statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, maintained that the report does not truly reflect the great strides by the country in its fight against corruption.

Mohammed said that the implementation of the various reforms, especially in the Ease of Doing Business, is expected to yield positive outcomes in the country’s corruption perception and other relevant assessments in the next 12 to 24 months.

Corruption Scores

“This is very improbable given the nature of behaviour of variables, which are normally influenced by a variety of factors (which is the reason they are called ‘variables’). In this case, the corruption scores would have been affected by changes in the size and structure of the public sector over the past 10 years, changes in policies and personnel and systems over the period including, for instance, process automation, etc. There is therefore a need to verify that there is no transposition of figures from year to year due to absence of current data.

“For instance, following the release of the 2019 TI-Corruption Perception Index, the government initiated reforms to improve on Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business indices. This is because we found that up to 40% of the country’s corruption perception survey indices relates to business processes and general public service delivery processes. Government’s swift action has led to major reforms in the processes at our ports and business process points,” he said.

He said that in addition to placing more emphasis on corruption, prevention measures and building of integrity systems, high profile corruption cases are currently under investigation and prosecution.

According to him, the emphasis on preventive mechanisms is in response to various local and international reviews and evaluation that Nigeria has gone through, including those from the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and even from the TI-CPI

COVID-19 Pandemic

“In response to these evaluations, a number of significant policies have been instituted to enhance transparency and accountability, and prevent corruption. Even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of key transparency and accountability policies were developed and are currently being implemented.” he added.

He listed such policies as including the launch by the ICPC, of the National Ethics Policy which addresses integrity issues on all sectors of the polity and is directly linked to a key pillar of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), which is Ethical Reorientation.

This, he said is an efforts by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to energize the Code of Conduct for Public Officers (CCPO) and the launch of the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM), ultimately aimed at sustaining the country’s improvement in the Ease of Doing business.

“While we expect the results from these reforms to speak for us in due course, we are also taking measures to improve our data collection and retrieval on these issues to reduce the current under-reporting of our ongoing corruption reduction measures.”

The Minister further revealed that the Federal Government is interrogating a number of issues and discrepancies that have been observed in the rating process, including some data sources in which Nigeria’s scores have remained flat over the past 10 years, reflecting no improvement, decline or fluctuation.

He added that different assessments by different rating institutions have generated different scores and different rankings across the ranking agencies.

Photo: Abdulrasheed Bawa, EFCC Chairman



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