Assets and funds worth more than $400m stolen from Nigeria have been traced to the United Arab Emirate, (UAE), according to a leading anti-corruption group on Tuesday.
The Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) corroborated by foreign anti-corruption experts said during an international conference held in Abuja that more than half of the $400m stolen funds are linked to only thirteen Nigerian top security 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 at the Sheraton Hotel in Abuja was on Fixing Financial Flows: A critical Review of UK and UAE policies, laws and Practices in Financial and Non Financial Institutions.
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), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offenses Commission, (ICPC), 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 UK, Botswana and Nigeria including Pusetso Moradepi, Kemi Okenyodo and Nick Hildyard. 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.