By Alltimepost.comNigeria’s frontline human and environmental rights group, the Africa Network For Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) has again called for intensified action on global asset recovery and fight against graft.
ANEEJ Executive Director, Rev. David Ugolor in a speech to mark the World Anti-corruption Day yesterday in Benin City, Nigeria, delivered on his behalf by Program Manager, Comrade Bob Majiri-Oghene Etemiku, noted that corruption has been the bane of societal progress and development.
Ugolor stressed the need to continue to apply pressure on countries holding on to Nigeria’s stolen wealth to return them, adding however, that this must be consistent with issues of mutual legal assistance and an extra-territorial application of the law on both divides.
“As we deliberate today on the World Anti-corruption day, let us be mindful that corruption is the cankerworm which has eaten very deep into the fabric of our everyday lives.
“If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us. If we don’t talk about corruption, corruption will silence us. If we don’t walk around telling people about the dangers of corruption, we will be lame forever,” he noted.
Below is full text of the speech:
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen and participants, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you again to this year’s Global Anti-Corruption Day.
For last year’s event, we had an array of distinguished personalities both from the public, private and religious sectors brainstorming and trying to put the issues of corruption into perspective and come up with solutions.
At the end of the day, we succeeded in drawing attention to the fact that corruption is responsible for the high indexes of poor governance at all levels.
One significant event which drew world attention to the negative role which corruption plays in our economy and in the lives of Nigerians is the Global Forum for Asset Recovery which took place in Washington DC from the 2-4 December.
The background to that forum which was organized by the United States and the UK was that in 2016, erstwhile British Prime Minister, David Cameron organized an Anti-Corruption Summit which sought to draw the attention of the world to the debilitating effect of corruption on development.
It is a well-known fact that under the dictatorship of late General Sanni Abacha, over 4billion of Nigerian wealth was stolen and hidden in secret offshore locations across the world.
Some of these wealth were in Switzerland, the UK the US and most of Europe. Analysts have said that these are assets and are capable of being used to finance critical areas of our economy like the roads, education, power and health, if most of the wealth is brought back.
If Nigeria currently has a billion dollars today of raw cash, it can build world class hospitals for children in the 36 states of Nigeria. After that there will be reasonable change left for good roads, electricity and for critical infrastructure.
After the UK Anti-Corruption Summit, Nigeria signed on to the Open Government Partnership, OGP, and went ahead to develop a National Action plan framed along thematic areas of citizen participation, fiscal responsibility, access to information and anti-corruption.
Mostly from the activities of very-serious minded civil society organizations like ANEEJ the attention of the world focused on the anti-corruption and asset recovery efforts of four countries – Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and the Ukraine.
To build the momentum and sustain interest on the need for corruption to die naturally or unnaturally, ANEEJ and SERAP organized a pre-GFAR Consultative forum in Abuja on October 26th 2017 in Abuja.
The theme of that consultative meeting – building an effective framework on asset recovery in Nigeria – helped to shape the tone and tenor of the Washington DC GFAR Summit.
It was also at that meeting that the Honorable Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami announced that Nigeria already recovered the sum of $USD85 million from the Malabu Deal.
There were also indications from that ANEEJ-SERAP meeting in Abuja that Nigeria and Switzerland had already concluded an MoU for the repatriation of $USD321million Abacha Loot to Nigeria. And as a matter of fact, the MoU came into effect in Washington DC at the GFAR meeting.
Part of recommendations which the Global Forum on Asset Recovery in Washington DC came up with include asking Nigeria to ensure swift passage of the Proceeds of Crime Act, effectively resource the new Asset Recovery and Management Unit, create a single national body responsible for delivering the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, and to strengthen the autonomy of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.
We must continue to apply pressure on countries holding on to our stolen wealth to return them. But this must be consistent with issues of mutual legal assistance and an extra-territorial application of the law on both divides.
As we deliberate today on the World Anti-corruption day, let us be mindful that corruption is the cankerworm which has eaten very deep into the fabric of our everyday lives. If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us. If we don’t talk about corruption, corruption will silence us.
If we don’t walk around telling people about the dangers of corruption, we will be lame forever.
I wish us all fruitful deliberations and thank you for listening.