The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami said yesterday that over $700 million in cash stolen from Nigeria in the last four years has been returned to the country.
The United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), the Bailiwick of Jersey, Switzerland, and Ireland, he said, had returned the stolen funds.
The minister also stated that African countries lose over $148 billion per year due to corruption, with part of the loss attributed to Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).
Malami made the remarks at the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC) International Conference on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and Asset Recovery in Abuja.
Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, Senior Special Adviser to the President on Justice Sector Reforms, represented him.
“In the last four years, Nigeria has recovered and ensured the return of over $700 million from the United States, the United Kingdom, the Bailiwick of Jersey, Switzerland, and Ireland through constructive and collaborative efforts with other countries,” the minister said.
We are continuing to work with our foreign partners and other countries to recover all Nigerian assets that have been identified.”
He stated that the government was working to ensure that the assets recovered were used to benefit all Nigerians by investing in social development and infrastructure.
Malami, on the other hand, expressed concern about how IFFs have spread across Africa and are rising at a rate of 20.2 percent per year due to a lack of national and regional ability to stem the tide.
He said that the smuggling of large sums of money out of Africa has led to underdevelopment and instability across the continent.
“Undoubtedly, the effect of such illegal flows of funds means a shortage of health and education facilities, low development, high poverty, and lack of infrastructure in many African countries,” he added.
“There is no doubt that international and regional cooperation is critical in achieving this goal since no single country can do it,” he said, emphasizing the importance of a multilateral approach. As a consequence, we must work together. The February 2021 report of the Financial and Accountability, Transparency, and Integrity (FACTI) Panel confirms this.
“Following the panel’s recommendations in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a global and regional challenge.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, who was accompanied by Permanent Secretary Ambassador Gabriel Aduda, said the ministry was working hard to see that stolen funds and properties are returned to Nigeria
IFFs, according to Onyeama, are to blame for many of the country’s social ills and underdevelopment.
“Illicit Financial Flows deny developing countries valuable resources that belong to them; resources that should have been invested on their development priorities,” he said, emphasizing that the Federal Government was not folding its weapons.
“It lowers tax revenues, frustrates development efforts, undermines established authorities, and jeopardizes the stability and long-term development of all affected countries.
“IFFs also provide a financial network that facilitates terrorist attacks, fuels violence, and contributes to internal displacement and refugee conditions, diverts funds away from public objectives, and obstructs the government’s efforts to mobilize domestic capital.
Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman of the ICPC, stated that IFFs have a tremendous impact on developing countries in Africa.
He stated that combating the threat, which falls under the Commission’s jurisdiction, has become critical in order to shore up the Federal Government’s declining revenue.
“Estimates of the quantum of IFFs lost globally differ, but it is widely accepted that developing countries bear a large share of the loss,” the ICPC chief said. African countries are disproportionately impacted by IFF losses, which deprive the continent of critical development resources.”