Senator Iroegbu and Godsgift Onyedinefu
The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, on Thursday disclosed that the amount of money leaving Africa, especially Nigeria through Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) is now estimated at $90 billion and is still growing.
“Indeed a report on the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, chaired by former South Africa’s president Thabo Mbeki in 2015 put the amount of money leaving Africa through illicit flows at a staggering sum of $50 billion annually: President Muhammadu Buhari added that ‘this is more than three times the US Overseas Development Assistance to Africa’. Sadly, the flow is now estimated at $90 billion, and is still growing”, he said.
The ICPC boss recalled that a report on the high level panel on illicit financial flows from Africa, Chaired by Former South African President, Mr. Thambo Mbeki in 2015 put the amount of money leaving Africa at a staggering sum of $50 billion annually.
Owasanoye, who was represented by a Commissioner in ICPC, Mr. Obiora Igwedibia, disclosed this at the 2019 African Union (AU) Anti-Corruption Day in Abuja with the theme: ‘Towards a Common African Position on Asset Recovery’.
He lamented that despite several treaties signed by African countries, aimed at combating corruption, it still remains a major threat and hindrance to African States, preventing them from establishing true democratic institutions and sustainable socio-economic development.
He noted that all stolen assets, if recovered will transform African states, boost the fight against corruption and overall economic prosperity.
According to him, “recovery of identified stolen wealth would be transformational for our continent, because millions of Africans suffering denial of basic social services and lack of basic infrastructure will receive succour”.
In the same vein, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, regretted that corruption has continued unabated in Africa while the vulnurable, down trodden, less privileged and the marginalized, have continued to bear the brunt of stolen, diverted or mismanaged funds meant for public public use.
Osinbajo who was represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dayo Apata, however stated that assets recovered by the federal government so far particularly the $321m Abacha loot form Switzerland in December 2017 has been for the benefit of Nigerians through the federal government Social Investment Programmes (SIPs).
He reiterated that all Memeber states of the African must take a common stand in asset recovery and ensure proper management of all recovered funds.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committe against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, on his part stressed that recovery of stolen assets remains the most effective way to tackle corruption in the country and Africa in general.
Sagay however, regretted that a major problem that Nigeria has experienced with regards to the recovery of assets is the extreme difficulty of persuading foreign countries to whose territory such looted funds has been transferred to return the funds to the Victim State.
He said, “Nigeria particularly has experienced this with regard to Abacha loots which are still located in various countries all over the World. The latest -example are the funds identified as Abacha’s loot funds in the Island of New Jersey, which is determined to keep large proportion of the looted funds before returning the balance to Nigeria.
Sagay therefore urged African States to come together to establish a common procedure for demanding the return of such funds from foreign countries.
He said a standard procedure once established will create a more conducive mindset in the receiving Countries for the return of looted funds in their custody.