Recovery Of Stolen Assets: Osinbajo Calls For Legal Reform, Collective Action
The Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has called for legal reform,mutual legal assistance,collective action and global approach in the recovery of stolen assets.
Professor Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the opening ceremony of the 8th Annual General Meeting and Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa,also stressed the need for the G8 and G20 countries to initial action to end corporate secrecy.
The Vice President who called on the international community to apply the highest possible standards of transparency at all stages urged governments of African states to be proactive and give necessary legal support for anti-corruption agencies.
“It is only through collective action that we can stay ahead of the criminal elements who rob our countries and our citizens of their present and their future.”
“We must also work hard to build cooperation and mutual understanding. We must insist that recovered stolen assets be returned to countries of origin, without any preconditions in line with article 51 UNCAC”.
According to Osinbajo nations all over the globe should agree to apply the highest possible standards of transparency at all stages. He called on governments of African states to more actively provide money, moral and legal support for anti-corruption agencies.
“We must provide adequate resources to investigate, to adequately improve operatives, to protect their families and to protect whistleblowers,” he said.
“Fighting corruption is futile, if proceeds of corruption finds safe haven. Regrettably, the procedures to obtain mutual legal assistance to seize, confiscate, to repatriate proceeds of corruption are often so complex.
“Corruption is a global challenge and it requires global collaboration to tackle it. We need to break down the walls and collaborate. African countries must come together to address this issue.”
The Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland, said there was a global tsunami of corruption therefore the need for the heads of anti-corruption to lead the fight against corruption .
“Globally, we are facing a tsunami of corruption. In 2015, UNODC estimated that the amount of money laundered globally each year is 2 to 5 per cent of global domestic product or between 800 billion and USD 200 trillion,” said Secretary-General Scotland. “It is estimated that corruption costs the African continent over USD 148 billion per
“You, the heads of anti-corruption agencies, will be seeking to meet this challenge. You are leading the fight against this Tsunami. You are the early warning mechanisms, the rapid responders, mobilisers, you put in place necessary, critical measures that enable us to build back better.”she said.
“I would like to share a few of the inspiring stories on how you on the continent are beginning to win the battle against corruption,” continued the Secretary-General. “Botswana’s Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime is currently investigating 26 suspects who are accused of money laundering and fraud to the tune over 300 million pula, which is equivalent to USD 85 million.
The Asset Recovery Unit of Uganda’s Inspectorate of Government is currently investigating three cases to the value of USD 5 million dollars. In Mauritius, the Asset Recovery Investigation Division is pursuing criminal proceedings in a case that is valued at about half a billion dollars.
“South Africa’s Special Investigations Unit which, between 2015 and now, has recovered assets or prevented fraud equivalent to 13 billion rand which is just over USD 1 billion dollars. Here in Nigeria, over USD 3 billion dollars of ill-gotten gains have been recovered.”she added.
In a welcome remark, the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu said the meeting would enable the heads of anti-corruption agencies shared ideas on how to tackle corruption,
Ibrahim Magu, said that the anti-corruption fight as the cardinal point of the present’s administration was not accidental.
“I say unrestrained and unqualified advisedly, but really, President Buhari gives us the anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria, unrestrained support, qualified only by his insistence that the anti-corruption war be carried out under the strict, unyielding guidance of law,” he said.
Also speaking a former president of Nigeria,Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd), called on public servants to be honest and transparent as well as ensure they avoid tampering with public funds.
Gen. Gowon urged public servants to be honest and transparent, stressing that they should be constantly checked, to ensure they do not tamper with public funds.
: “In my time, we believed everything belonged to the country and so we never touched anything.
“We must try to make sure that our leaders are checked to make sure they don’t touch the nation’s coffers. Let the leaders be honest with themselves”.
On his own part, Prof. Wole Soyinka said, “Until we make sure some of our leaders pass through the jail doors of the new EFCC headquarters, the fight against corruption will not be won”.
The conference, which will run till May 18, 2018 has as its theme: “Partnering towards Assets Recovery and Return”.
The theme for the 8th Commonwealth Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa is ‘Partnering towards assets recovery and its return’. The summit, which takes place between the 14 and 18 May.