The Human and Environmental Development Agenda has said that assets and funds worth more than $400m stolen from Nigeria were stashed in the United Arab Emirates.
The leading anti-graft group explained that out of the 800 assets uncovered by investigators, 216 assets were linked to 13 top security officials, while the remaining 584 have been traced to public officials.
Speaking at a conference on ‘Fixing Financial Flows: A critical review of UK and UAE policies, laws and practices in Financial and Non-financial Institutions,’ held at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja on Tuesday, the Chairman of HEDA, Olanrewaju Suraju, said the illicit financial outflows from Nigeria have continued to hurt the vulnerable poor, fuel violence and constitute threats to moral authority of the Nigerian state.
“Of the 800 Nigerian stolen illicit assets lodged in UAE, 13 security officials own 216 of them while 584 of the remaining assets are owned by Nigerian public officials,” he noted.
Suraju said that the UAE and the United Kingdom have been facing attacks for failing to live up to international obligations in curbing illicit financial flow, mainly perpetrated by politically exposed persons.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the summit, participants said the UAE and UK represent some of the hosts of illicit financial flow from Nigeria estimated at $17billion every year.
The statement signed by Suraju 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,’’ the participants said.
They also said the campaign for the repatriation of stolen funds abroad cannot be handled by the government alone, insisting that 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, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, Dayo Olaide said while transparent elections remained a momentous step towards probity and good governance, it is disturbing that public enthusiasm towards election was fading.
The Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption, Prof Sadiq Raddah, said the government was concerned about illicit financial flow, adding that PACAC has set up a committee whose responsibility, among others, was to help anti-corruption institutions recover stolen assets.
The conference was attended by representatives of MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, United Nations Office of Drug and Crime, Centre for Democracy and Development, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, Code of Conduct Bureau, Corporate Affairs Commission, the Nigeria Police Force and civil society groups.