Nigeria’s Assets and funds valued at over $400million stolen from Nigeria are starched away in the United Arab Emirate, (UAE) by crooks, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA) Resource Centre said on Tuesday.
The HEDA Resource Centre, which collaborated with some foreign anti-corruption experts disclosed during an international conference held in Abuja that the stolen funds were linked to only 13 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 conference on Fixing Financial Flows: A critical Review of UK and UAE policies, laws and Practices in Financial and non-Financial Institutions, was attended by representatives of civil society groups dedicated to anti-corruption crusade in the country.
They included 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 organizations and the media.
The local and international panelists from UK, Botswana and Nigeria included Pusetso Moradepi, Kemi Okenyodo and Nick Hildyard.
Gbenga Oduntan of Kent University, United Kingdom said public officials were milking Nigerians to their bone marrow, adding that illicit financial flows have continue to fuel unrest, violence and terrorism in Nigeria.
Most of the stolen funds, they said, were 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.
‘An estimated $17billion is lost every year to financial flows, which hurts vulnerable poor, fuels violence and threat to moral authority of the state,’ the communique said.
The participants said ‘fighting the transfer of stolen funds abroad cannot be handled by the government alone, but as a joint effort in collaboration with civil society, labour and all people-driven institutions.’
The Deputy Country Director, MacArthur Foundations, Dayo Olaide, said while see-through election remains a momentous step towards transparency and good governance, it is disturbing that public enthusiasm towards election was 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 said.
Olaide recalled that the total number of Nigerians that voted in the last election held recently in South Eastern Nigeria was 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.’
The Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption, (PACAC) Sadiq Raddah said the Nigerian authority was concerned about illicit financial flows, 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 Olanrewaju Suraju noted that the United Kingdom and UAE were 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, including International cooperation, technical assistance, asset recovery and the Mutual Legal Assistance,” participants said in the communiqué.